March 17, 2011
By Neal Tepel
A report released by the Assembly, verified rent stabilized housing’s critical role in protecting millions of working New Yorkers. The document, The New Housing Emergency, revealed that more than 10,000 rent regulated apartments are lost each year because of loopholes in the rent laws set to expire on June 15th. More than 340,000 rental properties affordable to low income people were lost between 2000 and 2007 in the five boroughs.
“If we do not act quickly to extend our rent laws millions of working New Yorkers could lose their homes,” said NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. “We must close the loopholes identified in this report that cost our neighborhoods thousands of affordable homes each year,” continued Silver. Assemblyman Vito Lopez, Chairman of the Assembly Housing Committee added that “I am pleased to join Speaker Silver and my Assembly colleagues to advocate for the expansion of the Rent Regulation Laws.
The report finds that:
There are roughly 1,021,000 rent regulated households in New York City, representing the largest source of housing for middle and low income New Yorkers. The median income for rent regulated tenants in New York City is $38,000. In 2009, landlords reported that 13,500 apartments were removed from rent protections through vacancy decontrol and other loopholes in the rent laws. Those losses have made it harder for families to find available rent stabilized apartments. Current law allows landlords to permanently remove vacant apartments from rent stabilization by simply making improvements and repairs, which occur with little oversight and regulation.
In releasing the report, Silver and members of the Assembly Majority vowed to pass legislation that would extend rent regulations and add new protections to help reverse the significant losses of affordable housing spelled out in the report. The Assembly has introduced A.2674-A, that would repeal vacancy decontrol saving thousands of affordable apartments every year. It would also reduce allowable rent increases, cap the amount that can be collected for a major capital improvement, cut in half the percentage increase a landlord can raise rents after a vacancy and permit New York City to strengthen rent protections.