Senator Adriano Espaillat editorial, 5/4/2011


Expiring Rent Regulation Spells Disaster for New Yorkers

Big corporations have benefited from record profits, while New York’s working class has struggled to recover from the aptly named “Great Recession.” All the while, low-income and middle-class families have been battered by brutal budget cuts on the federal and statewide level. We have seen deep cuts to education and health care, while billions in tax breaks have been given away to the wealthiest among us.

With working families struggling to hang on, allowing rent regulations to expire this June will spell disaster for New York’s tenants and squeeze millions out of their homes.

That’s why tenant advocates and I have worked so hard to pursue the renewal and strengthening of rent laws that stabilize over a million apartment units in New York City. My legislation (S. 2783-A) will extend rent regulations, preventing a housing crisis the likes of which our city has not seen in decades.

In addition to extending rent laws that would otherwise expire on June 15, my legislation will end various loopholes used to raise rents on vulnerable tenants. Chief among these loopholes is vacancy decontrol, which has resulted in New York losing approximately 300,000 units of affordable housing.

The legislation will also reform “MCI” and “IAI” practices, often used by landlords to hike rents on the premise of “improvements” made to apartment units. My legislation will result in tenants no longer having to pay for improvements long after costs have been recovered, saving tenants thousands of dollars. It will also repeal the “Urstadt Law,” taking away power from upstate lawmakers to regulate New York City rent regulations.

As things stand, Republicans in the Senate have used parliamentary maneuvers and inside baseball to block my legislation—endorsed by every major pro-tenant group—from even coming up for a vote. Unlike the last time our rent laws were renewed, however, we have a strong Democratic governor in Andrew Cuomo, who is working with me and other tenant advocates to address New Yorkers’ housing needs.

I am fully aware of the giant bull’s eye on my back courtesy of powerful landlord groups that want me to water down my legislation and keep rent-raising loopholes in the books, or better yet drop rent regulations all together.

But some things are worth fighting for. Given everything New York’s working families have been through, keeping them in their homes is certainly one of them.