Save and Strengthen our Rent Regulation Laws

Why is rent-regulation so important?

Most New Yorkers would never be able to afford the market rents in their own neighborhoods. This is particularly true for lower-income tenants who live in areas that are experiencing gentrification. Many neighborhoods that used to be affordable to people of modest means have seen rents skyrocket, and the only reason why most long-time tenants are able to stay in the communities where they set roots is because of our rent-regulation laws. These laws protect the affordability of rental housing to over 2.5 million New Yorkers – more than all other affordable housing programs combined. Unlike every other affordable housing program, rent-regulation costs almost nothing, as it requries no government subsidies. The laws keep rent increases under control in privately-owned buildings and prevent landlords from imposing outrageous rent-hikes or evicting tenants without cause. 

More about rent-stabilization:

The majority of New York City’s housing stock is rental – in some neighborhoods, nearly all of it. Moreover, the high value of land in the metropolitan region puts home-ownership out of reach for the majority of New York City residents. Rent-regulation provides stability to individuals, families, and entire communities, and is the primary reason why New York City remains a diverse, vibrant place that low- and moderate-income people can afford to continue living in.

The key protections of rent stabilization and rent control laws are:

  • The right to continue living in your apartment while paying modest rent increases. By contrast, in unregulated apartments landlords can raise rates as high as they want whenever they want, no matter how long a tenant has lived in the apartment.
  • Protection against eviction without cause. Landlords cannot evict or end the tenancy of a rent-regulated tenant unless they can demonstrate good cause, such as that the tenant failed to pay the rent, was a nuisance, or violated the lease. By contrast, a landlord can move to evict an unregulated tenant at the end of his/her lease without any reason, no matter how long the tenant has lived there.
  • The right to good services and repairs, with recourse if they are not provided. Rent regulated tenants are able to assert their legal rights to repairs and adequate services without fear of retaliation, since tenants have the right by law to renew their leases. By contrast, in many cases when unregulated tenants complain about poor services or conditions, their landlords retaliate by refusing to renew their leases. Unregulated tenants are forced to choose between living in dilapidated housing and facing displacement. 

Position papers:

Met Council on Housing is a founding member of the Real Rent Reform Campaign, a coalition of housing and community groups, faith-based organizations, and unions, from across New York, that have unified to push for a package reforms to our rent regulation system. The majority of the reforms would restore the rent regulation system to the way it was for many decades, before the system was dismantled by the legislature in the 1990s.

State Legislative Priorities/ Prioridades Legislativas

Rent regulated housing is the primary source of housing for low income New Yorkers. However, the pressure to deregulate apartments has led to the de-stabilization of diverse neighborhoods. Tenants struggle with rising rents that have outpaced cost of living increases in income and the windfall landlords receive in deregulated units has led to harassment and fraud. The Real Rent Reform Campaign and the Alliance for Tenant Power is organizing to preserve and strengthen the rent regulation system legislatively to maintain diverse and livable communities.

Repeal vacancy deregulation:

S04474 (Stewart-Cousins)/A1865-a (Rosenthal)
This bill would repeal vacancy deregulation, the process by which, upon vacancy, landlords can remove apartments from rent regulation when rents rise over $2,500. Upon vacancy decontrol, a process that has deregulated over 300,000 apartments, rents can rise indefinitely, and tenants lose eviction protections. The bill also re-regulates most of the apartments that were deregulated in the last 15 years.

Protect tenants with “preferential rents”:

S2828 (Krueger)/ A3809 (Wright)
This bill would close a loophole in the rent laws that currently impacts hundreds of thousands of “preferential rent” tenants. Preferential rents occur when a landlord offers a rent stabilized apartment for less than the legal regulated rent, which is often higher than the market will bear due to vacancy bonuses, IAIs, MCIs and RGB rent increases. As of now, when leases are renewed landlords can raise rents all the way up to the legal regulated rent, which can be hundreds of dollars higher than the preferential rate. This bill would require that preferential lease renewals be offered based on the lower rate, and only allows landlords to jump up to the legal regulated rent upon vacancy.

Make MCIs temporary surcharges:

S4423 (Krueger)/ A6054 (Kavanagh/O’Donnell)
This bill would turn Major Capital Improvement rent increases into temporary surcharges, rather than permanent additions to the rent. When a building-wide improvement is paid off, the surcharge would disappear. MCI rent increases would not be compounded into the monthly rent for the purposes of determining annual or biennial rent increases. The bill would also standardize the cap on MCI payments at 6% of total rent. Today rent controlled tenants can be charged up to 15% of their rent per MCI, while rent stabilized tenants have a 6% cap.

Eliminate the “vacancy bonus”:

S00951 (Serrano)/ A5567 (Kavanagh)
This bill would eliminate the statutory vacancy bonus, an automatic rent increase of up to 20% that landlords can use to raise rents every time the apartment turns over.

Reform the Individual Apartment Improvement rent increase system:

S3285 (Squadron)/A06069(Mosley)
It has become apparent that the imposition of unwarranted and fraudulent rent increases based on alleged “improvements” in vacant apartments is the greatest single factor driving the rapid inflation of rents and the single greatest threat to the affordability that the Rent Laws were enacted to preserve. Currently weak regulation makes it possible for unscrupulous landlords to unlawfully deregulate tens of thousands of rent stabilized units, and inflate rents in stabilized apartments to a level beyond the reach of many working families. The IAI system must be reformed.

End Fraudulent Fees:

S3583 (Espaillat)/ A1795 (Dinowitz) This bill would prohibit surcharges for tenant installed appliances, such as air conditioners or washing machines, where the tenant pays for electric utility services.

Rent control relief:

A398 (Rosenthal)

This bill would end the annual 7.5% rent increases and bring the increases for rent controlled tenants in line with typical rent stabilized adjustments through replacing the 7.5% rent increase with a rolling average of the past five years’ New York City RGB rent adjustments for one year leases on class A apartments. This bill would also eliminate the fuel and labor pass-alongs for rent controlled tenants, since fuel and labor costs are already factored into the RGB’s annual deliberations for rent adjustments.

Repeal deregulation of Rent Regulated apartments

It has become apparent that the possibility of deregulation of apartments puts current tenants at risk for harassment and fraudulent deregulation. Thus rent regulated apartments should stay rent regulated no matter the rent charged or the income of the families living in the apartment.

End Source of Income Discrimination:

S151-A (Squadron)/ A6764 (Crespo)
This bill would end source of income discrimination, making it illegal for landlords to deny tenancy to people who pay their rent using Section 8 vouchers or any other forms of rental assistance.

Mitchell Lama reform bill:

A344 (Rosenthal)
This bill would authorize the local legislative bodies to declare a housing emergency and extend the protections of rent regulations to building that were formerly Mitchell-lama rentals or HUD subsidized housing and were privatized. Additionally this bill authorized local legislative bodies to declare a housing emergency and extend the protections of rent regulations to current Mitchell-Lamas rentals or HUD subsidized housing developments that privatize in the future.