ATTEMPT TO ROLL BACK LUXURY DECONTROL FAILS IN CITY COUNCIL

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The attempt to force the New York City Council to roll back its 1994 law that eliminated rent protections for some luxury apartments failed on Friday. Tenant advocates and most of Manhattan’s council delegation had hoped to convince City Council Speaker Peter Vallone to cancel legal provisions that deregulate apartments with rents over $2,000 as they become vacant. They also sought to get rid of laws exempting tenants who earn more than $250,000 a year from rent stabilization rules.

Instead, the council’s housing committee on Friday okayed a measure calling for the straight extension of existing rent regulations–without the decontrol rollback proposed by Manhattan Democrats Stanley Michels and Virginia Fields.

“We believe in luxury decontrol and most of the members believe in luxury decontrol,” said Mike Clendenin, Vallone’s spokesman. “Peter has to look at what the whole membership wants–and Stanley does not represent the whole membership.”

Still, the committee approved on a 5 to 2 vote a measure preventing landlords from jacking rents to above $2,000 after tenants have vacated apartments. Michels, Fields and the 15 other members who voted against the luxury decontrol rollback in 1994 still could introduce their plan as an amendment to the Vallone bill when the whole council meets on March 25.

Whatever happens at City Hall, the council’s actions on rent regulations are mostly symbolic. The state legislature alone has final say whether rent regulations will be extended after they expire in June.