May 7, 2015
By Neal Tepel
New York, NY – To stem the loss of affordable apartments to deregulation — more than 35,000 affordable apartments have left rent regulation since 2011 — Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for stronger rent laws.
As it now stands, enormous pressure is being put on working families and pushing longtime tenants out of fast-gentrifying neighborhoods. But the mayor is calling for a slate of new reforms to protect rent-stabilized apartments, including ending vacancy decontrol, eliminating the vacancy bonus and making improvement surcharges temporary.
“This is a vital priority for New York City,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Our working families and our neighborhoods are depending on stronger rent laws. Rent is the number one expense for New Yorkers. Unless we change the status quo, tens of thousands of hardworking families will be pushed out of their homes. This has to be a city for everyone. It cannot just be a city of luxury apartments out of everyday New Yorkers’ reach.”
New York City’s rent-stabilized apartments provide affordable homes for more than 1.4 million low-income tenants, and more than 700,000 moderate- and middle-income New Yorkers. This vital housing reservoir is fast drying up, however, as a hot real estate market puts more and more pressure on rents. The administration warns that if nothing is done to strengthen rent laws before they expire on June 15, tens of thousands more apartments will be converted to market rents in the years ahead, and entire neighborhoods could be rendered unaffordable.
According to the city, proposed rent regulation reforms work together as a two-pronged strategy that stem the loss of units through the elimination of vacancy decontrol. The reforms also help to keep the rents of those units affordable by ending the vacancy allowance and making the individual apartment improvement and major capital improvement increases temporary and not a permanent addition to tenants’ rent.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie calls preserving and strengthening New York’s rent laws one of the majority’s “top priorities” in Albany this year.
“We need to keep rents affordable and make sure that people are able to remain in their homes free of harassment so that our neighborhoods can grow and thrive,” Heastie said in a statement. “These are the same principles that Mayor de Blasio is fighting for, and I am pleased to work with him in our effort to make New York’s rent laws as strong as possible.”