The initial trenches of the looming rent regulation of renewal battle are just about dug.
At press time, GOP leaders in the State in the State Senate were expected to release at least two bills outlining their attack on protections for the richest and poorest New York City tenants. The plan is expected to come in response to a bill introduced by a response by assembly Democrats in late February, which called for the permanent extension of rent control and rent stabilization laws are due to expire on June 15.
One Republican bill, expected to be introduced this month, would force tenants to make a deposit on unpaid rent before they could proceed with housing court cases against their landlords. A second measure, expected to come later, will reportedly extend decontrol, proposing the elimination of rent regulations for tenants with incomes over $250,000 a year living in apartments are denied rent cap protections.
The already-released Democratic Party bill, produced by Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the Brooklinite who chairs the Assembly’s housing committee, would give tenants permanent title to their rent-regulated apartments without the need for lease renewals. It also seeks to limit rent hikes when landlords perform major repairs. The bill, co-sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, is expected, is expected to pass the Assembly , but has virtually no chance of gaining Senate approval.
GOP sources tell City Limits that Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno still plans to propose a measure that will call for elimination of all rent regulation. But Lopez predicts Senate Republicans will push primarily for the luxury decontrol plan and the rent deposit bill.
The Assembly housing chief says he opposes the rent deposit measure but adds that some fellow Democrats are increasingly open to the idea. He is researching a plan to address landlord complaints that tenants drag out court cases to avoid paying rent. “What we need to do is increase the number of housing court judges, appoint like 50 new housing court judges so that most cases could be resolved in a month,” Lopez says. “We need to come up with a plan that eliminates the need for rent deposits.”
“If they are not talking bout deposit of rent, our ears are open,” says Billy Easton of the New York State Tenants and Neighbors Coalition, one the largest pro-tenant groups.