It Won’t End Well

Eric Kober

The agreement, announced June 11, between New York State Assembly and Senate leaders on “the strongest tenant protections in history” and subsequently enacted into law, will prevent many tenants’ rents from rising as much as they did in the past. However, legislative leaders, having made this their sole priority, seem oblivious to other issues that will store up difficulties for the future and prove costly.

Removing most of the mechanisms by which regulated rents were permitted to rise at rates closer to market rents, the pending new law would essentially undo the changes that former governor George Pataki, a Republican, enacted during a period (1995–2007) when his party controlled the state senate and Democrat Sheldon Silver was assembly speaker. The leaders agreed on a series of changes to rent regulation, labeled “reforms” by supporters and a disaster by those who favor the present legislation.

Rent regulation in New York State is governed by the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974, which, up to now, applied in New York City and could be adopted by any city, town, or village in Nassau, Westchester, or Rockland Counties. It generally caps rents in buildings completed before January 1, 1974, with six or more units. The Rent Guidelines Board establishes permitted rent increases upon lease renewal.

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