Tuesday, June 16, 2015

GOP's State Senate bill grants landlords' desires


MEMORANDUM IN OPPOSITION 

June 15, 2015 

S5953 Rules Committee  (See Capital NY article.)

If ever there were any doubt that the Senate Republicans are owned, lock, stock and barrel by the New York City real estate lobby, this bill would silence any doubters. The bill is the landlords’ dream legislation.  [This bill has been rejected by Governor Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Heastie.]

The bill would renew the expiring state rent and coop/condo conversion laws for a period of eight years, to the year 2023, while leaving in place the loopholes that allow landlords to remove apartments from regulation – whether legally or illegally – upon vacancy, and all the loopholes that enable landlords to jack up rent-regulated rents to unaffordable levels, forcing tenants to give up their homes and delivering another vacancy to their landlords.

The bill would place the Tenant Protection Unit at the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal in statute, while imposing pro-landlord restrictions on the TPU.

The bill would create a universal registry for all rent-controlled and rent-stabilized apartments in New York State, to identify not only all tenants but all residents of these apartments, and implement universal means testing and income certification for all these households. This proposal is straight out of George Orwell, and represents a dangerous intrusion on privacy and civil rights.

The bill would increase fines for landlord harassment of tenants. This is basically meaningless, as it is virtually impossible to prove harassment and current fines are rarely imposed. The best way to stop landlord harassment would be to repeal Vacancy Decontrol, and thus end the incentive for harassment.

Finally, the bill would impose additional restrictions on subletting – virtually impossible in any case for most tenants under current law and market conditions – and impose penalties on tenants who sublet their apartments without permission from DHCR.

This is bad legislation that would make the housing crisis in New York City and the downstate suburbs far worse. The Real Rent Reform Campaign urges all fair-minded Senators to strongly oppose this giveaway to the landlord lobby.