Real Rent Reform Campaign - 2012 Legislative Platform

The Metropolitan Council on Housing is a founding member of the Real Rent Reform coalition (R3). Real Rent Reform is now comprised of over 150 organizations including unions, faith based groups, service providers, and housing and community organizations across New York, who have come together to aggressively push a package of legislation to preserve our rent protection programs and subsidized housing. The current legislative platform of the Real Rent Reform coalition is presented below:

Real Rent Reform Campaign
LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM FOR 2012

The New York State Legislature must enact a number of reforms to undo years of giveaways to the New York City real estate lobby that have exacerbated the housingcrisis in the city and suburban counties. The June 2011 law that extended the rent and eviction and coop/condo conversion laws to June 2015 made minor improvements to the rent laws that are far from sufficient to stop the eviction of tenants and the accelerating loss of affordable rental housing in the downstate region. The following bills represent the absolute minimum of necessary reform.

 

Full Repeal of Vacancy Decontrol

S1193 (Andrea Stewart-Cousins, et al.)/A2430 (Linda Rosenthal et al.)

Repeals vacancy decontrol, which has already cost New York City and the suburban counties of Nassau, Westchester and Rockland Counties an estimated 300,000 apartments that have been removed from rent and eviction protections and are no longer affordable. The bill also re-regulates most of the apartments that were deregulated in the last 15 years.

Adequate protections for former Mitchell-Lama & Section 8 Tenants

S1010 (Andrea Stewart-Cousins, et al.)/A2499 (Linda Rosenthal et al.)

Provides for rent stabilization coverage for all Mitchell-Lama and project-based Section 8 buildings that leave or have left government supervision, regardless of when constructed or first occupied. The bill further prohibits landlords from seeking rent increases for “unique orpeculiar circumstances.” This is the only bill with rent protections for post-1973 buildings that have already left government supervision and did not then become rent regulated.

Reform Major Capital Improvement Rent Increase System

S523 (Liz Krueger, et al.)/A2459 (Daniel O’Donnell, et al.)

Makes rent increases for building-wide Major Capital Improvements temporary surcharges, so that once tenants have paid them off, the rent increase disappears. The MCI must be listed as a separate surcharge on the rent bill, rather than being compounded with the base rent.

Reform Preferential Rent Loophole

S448 (Liz Krueger, et al.)/A1364 (Hakeem Jeffries, et al.)

Closes one of the worst loopholes in current law, a loophole that allows a landlord of a rent-stabilized unit to rent to a new tenant at a “preferential” rent lower than the legal rent, then later offer the tenant a renewal lease based on the legal rent, hitting tenants with huge rent increases, sometimes several hundred dollars a month, thus forcing them to vacate. The owner then imposes another 20 percent statutory vacancy bonus and engages in this scam all over again with a new tenant, while steadily moving the legal rent closer to the $2,500 per month threshold for vacancy decontrol. A465 allows the landlord to revert to the higher legal rent only upon vacancy, but requires that the lease be renewed based on the lower preferential rent.

Reform Owner Use Evictions Loophole

S581 (Daniel Squadron, et al.)/A3033 (Vito Lopez et al.)

Closes another inexcusable loophole in NYC rent stabilization: landlords can recover “one or more” apartments for use by the landlord or a family member. Landlords have used this mechanism to empty entire buildings. This bill limits recovery to one apartment, and requires the landlord to demonstrate “immediate and compelling necessity” as in NYC rent controland suburban rent laws.

Reduce the Statutory Vacancy Bonus

S2341 (José M. Serrano)/A2593 (Vito Lopez et al.)

Reduces statutory vacancy bonus from minimum of 20 percent for a two-year vacancy leaseto a minimum of 10 percent.

Reform the NYC and Suburban Rent Boards

S741 (Daniel Squadron et al.)/A6394 (Kavanagh)

Reforms the four rent guidelines boards in NYC and the three suburban counties (a system originally designed by the real estate industry itself) to level the playing field and give tenants at least a chance of fair rent adjustments. Among the most important changes is a requirement for New York City Council approval of appointments by the mayor.


Rent relief for New Yorkers Living with HIV/AIDS

S4098 (Thomas Duane, et al.)/A6275 (Deborah Glick et al.)

Provides that persons living with clinical/symptomatic HIV or AIDS, and who receive shelter assistance or emergency shelter allowance, shall no longer have to pay more than 30 percent of household monthly unearned and/or earned income towards rent and utilities. This bill passed both houses in 2010 but was vetoed by Governor David Paterson due to opposition by the administration of Mayor Bloomberg.

Protections for rent controlled tenants

Suspends the Maximum Base Rent system that requires rent controlled tenants in NYC to pay 7.5 rent increases annually; also ends the fuel and labor pass-alongs. Places rent controlled apartments in NYC under the Rent Guidelines Board and rent controlled apartments in Nassauand Westchester Counties under the county rent boards for purposes of rent adjustments.

 

Restore Full Home Rule to New York City

S443 (Liz Krueger, et al.)/A2993 (Vito Lopez et al.)

Repeals the so-called Urstadt Law of 1971, named for Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s housing commissioner Charles J. Urstadt, and by doing so restores full home rule powers overrent and eviction laws to the New York City Council and Mayor.