Albany Fight Gets in Gear

CHIP, along with REBNY, RSA, and SPONY, this week launched a TV and print ad campaign to fight proposed changes to the rent laws that would reduce housing quality and tenant choice. We’ve also increased our direct lobbying efforts, as Executive Director Jay Martin explained in this article Thursday.

It now seems clear that rent regulation will not be taken up in the State Budget negotiations, as Governor Cuomo originally proposed, and negotiations on the details are just beginning.

Tenants in illegal basement apartments in one and two family homes responded to new laws allowing owners to legalize the units by complaining that if the units were legal the rents could go up and that legal tenants can be brought to court for non-payment.

Ten Democratic congressmen from New York urged the State to adopt a new $400 million rent subsidy program to prevent homelessness. State officials were cool to the proposal by Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, concerned that it would actually result in higher rents generally.

Meanwhile, two Democratic presidential candidates, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, have each introduced legislation to provide direct tax credits to rent-burdened tenants.

The State Division of Homes and Community Renewal has redesigned its website, so all your old bookmarks are no good.

New York City Councilman Richie Torres and the Housing Rights Initiative are grabbing headlines for going after the Kushner companies for what they consider violations of Certificate of Occupancy requirements, and the what the Department of Buildings calls common “paperwork lapses” that don’t threaten tenant safety.

Rent regulation fever continues to sweep across oceans and up rivers. Spain has just adopted rules limiting rent increases to the rate of inflation and requiring lease terms of at least five years. Barcelona is fining banks millions of dollars for keeping foreclosed buildings vacant while trying to sell them. And the City of Hudson, NY voted to ask the State Legislature to extend the Emergency Tenant Protection Act statewide despite a local Census-reported housing vacancy rate of 17%.

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