With 48 days to go until rent regulations covering nearly a million apartments in New York City expire, more Democrats in the state Assembly are attaching themselves to a bill that would roll back high-rent vacancy decontrol.
Since City Limits first reported on the roster of co-sponsors of bill A.1865 on Friday, two more legislators—Nily Rozic of Queens and Michael Blake of the Bronx—have added their name to a list of 41 co-sponsors or multi-sponsors. Manhattan’s Linda Rosenthal is the chief sponsor of the bill.
Rent stabilization restricts apartments to annual rent increases set by the city’s Rent Guidelines Board, whose members are appointed by the mayor. It also provides other protection to tenants.
Vacancy decontrol is a mechanism in state law that allows apartments to exit the rent stabilization system once their monthly rent crosses the $2,500 threshold. It is the reason why some 133,000 apartments have disappeared from the rent stabilization system in the past two decades. When the state legislature last wrestled with rent regulations in 2011, the threshold was raised from $2,000 to $2,500.
Landlords argue that vacancy decontrol is an appropriate way to bring apartments that can no longer be considered “affordable” into the free market.
Rosenthal’s bill would end the provision. More boldly, it would re-regulate many apartments that left rent stabilization because of vacancy decontrol. Tenant PAC says the measure would recapture 98 percent of the units lost to the mechanism. It is part of an effort by rent-regulation supporters to push the Assembly into an aggressive negotiating stance against the Republican-controlled—and traditionally more landlord friendly—state Senate before the June 15 deadline.
While vacancy decontrol is the top policy target for tenant groups, it is hardly the only issue on the table as the state legislature winds toward mid-June and a battery of deadlines for key housing laws. Within rent regulation, there are also the issues of preferential rents and major capital improvements. Beyond that are the debates about the 421-a, J-51 and condo and coop tax breaks.