Wednesday, February 25, 2015

NYC Mayor strongly supports repeal of vacancy decontrol

To tackle the affordable housing crisis, the City and State must work cooperatively.  Even though I know the discussion of the future of rent regulation will occur post-budget, I must emphasize now the importance of renewing and strengthening rental protections that expire this year.

"If they are not renewed and strengthened, many thousands of apartments will become unaffordable.  And many thousands of people will lose their homes.

"I also want to state clearly my belief that we must end vacancy decontrol.  It is a major contributing factor in the loss of rent-protected units in the City.

Click on "read more" for the full text of the rent law part of his speech.

Rest of the Mayor's testimony on housing in NYC:

We will be returning to these important issues, but in this budget we must address a specific aspect of saving affordable housing – protecting tenants from landlord harassment.

According to a report by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board, from 1994-2012, 250,000 rent stabilized units exited regulation.  That represents more than half a million people – the size of many entire cities.  Many thousands of these are people who were driven out of their homes by landlord harassment.

In fact, during the three-year period from 2010 to 2012, when 30,000 units exited regulation, the State received nearly 19,000 complaints from tenants charging landlord misconduct in the City’s rent regulated units.

And last year, the City received over 61,000 calls to 3-1-1 from New Yorkers seeking direct tenant protection services – a 16% increase from the previous year.  This is just a small snapshot of the total incidents of harassment – incidents ranging from failure to provide basic maintenance, to lack of heat or hot water, to severe rodent infestation.  But it paints a dire picture of the depth of the crisis our tenant community is facing.

The State has a duty to protect tenants.  As I said in my State of the City address:  

Albany has responsibility for enforcing our rent laws, but too often that doesn’t happen.  We need Albany to step up and enforce the laws aggressively.

The State is not currently meeting its obligation.  In December, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli issued a report that found serious failures by the State’s Office of Rent Administration.

Comptroller DiNapoli said: “Our latest audit found delays in resolving tenant complaints that are simply unacceptable.  No one should have to wait for a year or more to learn if their landlord is gouging them on rent or to get needed services restored.”

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