Universal Rent Control

Universal Rent Control

We believe that housing is a human right; that all people should live without the fear of eviction; and that strengthening renters’ rights is critical to strong neighborhoods, educational and health outcomes, and economic stability for all New Yorkers.

Over the course of the 20th century, New Yorkers across the state have benefited from various forms of rent control, which protects tenants’ from unjust evictions and arbitrary rent increases. Now, however, that system has been eroded so much that it only applies to tenants in 8 counties, and has been weakened with loopholes that encourage tenant harassment and allow sudden and permanent rent hikes. Since 1994, we have lost nearly 300,000 units of affordable, rent stabilized housing. 5 million New Yorkers have no renter protections whatsoever—simply because of where or what kind of housing they live in.

Every tenant in New York, no matter where they live, deserves the same basic protections.


In 2019, New York State’s renter protection framework -- commonly known as rent stabilization -- will expire, giving tenants a moment of leverage to strengthen and expand their rights. The State has the opportunity to both undo anti-tenant provisions that incentivize the loss of rent regulated housing, and extend our rent stabilization framework to cover all of New York’s tenants.


Our Housing Justice for All campaign is fighting for a legislative agenda that would stabilize neighborhoods and eliminate the control that corporate landlords have over housing in New York State. Our priorities would:  

Expand renters’ rights across New York State, and return renters’ rights to hundreds of thousands of households.

Remove geographic restrictions in the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA): Under ETPA, commonly known as rent stabilization, tenants have the right to a renewal lease and landlords are limited in how they can raise the rents. Local elected officials, facing housing emergencies in their communities, have the right to “opt-in” to ETPA, triggering basic renter protections for communities facing rising housing costs and displacement. However, ETPA only applies to 8 downstate counties. This arbitrary distinction is preventing tenants in Kingston, or Rochester, from getting access to the basic protections that tenants in New York City face. We are fighting to remove all geographic restrictions in the Emergency Tenant Protection Act.  

Pass “good cause” eviction protections: Good cause eviction legislation, a common sense renter protection that exists in New Jersey, would give every tenant the right to a renewal lease at a minimal rent increase based on local market conditions. Unlike rent stabilization, which only applies to buildings with 6 or more units in NYC and the surrounding counties, good cause eviction protection would apply all renters -- regardless of where, or in what type of housing they live in. Good cause eviction protections should also be extended to cover lot rents in manufactured home communities, which are increasingly owned by corporate real estate players.

End vacancy decontrol: Vacancy decontrol allows landlords to permanently deregulate apartments once the rent reaches $2,733 a month and the current occupant leaves the unit. This loophole has led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of stable homes, and will lead to the eventual phasing out of all renter protections -- a windfall for landlords and a catastrophic loss for tenants. Our current legislative plan calls for repealing vacancy decontrol and re-regulating units that have been lost to this egregious loophole.

Stop sudden and permanent rent hikes that displace tenants from their homes:

Eliminate preferential rent: A preferential rent is a discounted rent that tenants pay when the legally registered rent exceeds the rent a landlord can charge in the market. But this discounted rent can be quickly snatched away once local market conditions change, leading to sudden and permanent rent hikes. These rent hikes, often hundreds of dollars, accelerate gentrification by forcing tenants to give up their homes and move. Preferential rents should last for the duration of the tenancy. This means that all rent increases should be based on the amount that a tenant pays when they move into their apartment.

Eliminate major capital improvements: Under our current system landlords that upgrade building systems are able to pass the cost of those repairs onto tenants forever. However, many of these building systems repairs are necessary after years and years of neglect, and landlords often overstate the cost and extent of renovations. We would ban landlords from passing the costs of maintaining and upgrading their investments onto tenants.

Eliminate the corporate takeover of housing, and give tenants’ power over where they live:

Stop rewarding tenant harassment: Under rent stabilization, landlords receive a 20% “vacancy bonus” on the “legally registered rent” every time an apartment becomes vacant. This bonus gives landlords a big incentive to harass and evict long-term tenants from the place they’ve called home for years. When an apartment is vacant, landlords can increase rent even more through unnecessary and often fraudulent “individual apartment improvements.” These cause rents to skyrocket and eventually take them out of regulation all together. We would end the vacancy bonus and permanent rent hikes for individual apartment improvements.

Right of first refusal: As more and more predatory equity companies buy-up manufactured housing communities across the state, state law should give the residents the right to purchase when the parks go on the market.

Tenants’ right to take legal action: When tenants don’t pay their rent, landlords are quick to take them to court for eviction proceedings. But when landlords aren’t making repairs, tenants don’t have the same options. This would give tenants the ability to easily take landlords to court for bad conditions and neglect





Past rent law fights