New York Legislature Reaches Agreement on Rent Control Regulations

After expiring on June 15th and receiving a temporary, 5-day extension to allow legislators to go home for Fathers’ Day weekend, the New York legislature finally agreed to a four-year extension of rent control regulations.

The agreement was a compromise. The Democrats had wanted to eliminate the law that would allow vacant apartments to come out of rent control, but, instead of elimination, the threshold at which vacant apartments can be deregulated was increased from $2,500 per month to $2,700 per month. Further increases in the “vacancy decontrol” threshold will be subject to the Rent Guidelines Board’s authority to increase regulated rents. The legislation, which affects more than two million New Yorkers, also affects some apartments in the suburbs and leaves undisturbed the requirements of tenant verification and certification that a unit is a tenant’s primary residence.

The New York Times quotes Bronx Democrat and Assembly speaker Carl E. Heastie as saying the agreement would “slow the loss of affordable housing in the city of New York” and Governor Cuomo as characterizing the agreement as “a major step forward in terms of tenant protection.”

Tenant’s advocates disagree with the Governor and Assembly speaker’s assessment. According to Reuters, The Alliance for Tenant Power called the agreement a giveaway to landlords that would lead to as many as 100,000 rent-controlled apartments being lost over the next four years. And The New York Times quotes Michael McKee, treasurer of the Tenants Political Action Committee, as calling it “an absolutely lousy deal” and saying the extension would have only a negligible effect on apartment deregulation.

Tax abatement for developers and cap on property taxes also extended

In addition to extending the vacancy decontrol law, the legislature also reached an agreement regarding a housing program known as 421-a. The program, which offers tax incentives to developers for building affordable, multi-family rental housing, had expired earlier in June but will now receive a six-month extension provided that industry and labor successfully negotiate a new prevailing-wage requirement for construction workers.

With respect to the cap on annual increases in property taxes, the legislature agreed to an extension while also approving a $1.3 billion property tax rebate program aimed at upstate and suburban homeowners.

Speak to a New York City real estate attorney

If you have questions about real estate, including zoning, land use and rent regulations, contact the New York City real estate practice of Rosenberg & Estis, P.C., to schedule a consultation.