Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Assembly Introduces Omnibus Rent Bill - Good but needs more

The State Assembly's plan is to pass this bill on May 19, 2015. 

The Assembly Democrats introduced an omnibus bill renewing the state rent and coop laws and making numerous changes to both the state and NYC rent laws. The changes are pro-tenant, although some of the changes are not adequate.

A7526 is sponsored by Assembly Housing Committee chairman Keith Wright (D-Manhattan) and co-sponsored by numerous other Democratic Assembly Members. (See list at end of this memo.)

A7526 extends state rent control and the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974 for four years, to June 15, 2019. It also extends the NYC and three-county coop conversion laws to the same sunset.

2019 is the worst possible sunset year in terms of leverage. 2019 is after the next two legislative elections, and after the next gubernatorial election. Our friends in the Assembly are for some reason choosing to put tenants at a political disadvantage. This is unacceptable. Tenants should insist on a two-year extender, to 2017.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Activate blog: Thousands of Tenants Rally

Check out the Activate blog run by Met Council on Housing. 
 It's got great photos of the May 14, 2015 rally!   
(See also the Gothamist's article on the rally.)

Results of May 14 Rally

Throngs of tenants rallied in Foley Square, marched over the Brooklyn Bridge (several hundred still coming at 7 PM), and into Cadman Plaza - where they were met by great music.   Tenant-supporting electeds were there. The question is whether Governor Cuomo was listening.  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Glenwood uses stealth & cash to buy results in Albany - Albany Times Union

Real estate giant uses loopholes in the law to keep its political donations anonymous
By Chris Bragg
Published 8:17 pm, Saturday, May 9, 2015
 . . . .
A tide of anonymous money has flowed into a campaign to stop the project, which Glenwood opposes. Yet its donors have remained secret thanks to a loophole in state ethics law.
Proponents of the transfer station see the fingerprints of the real estate giant. "It's been like running into a buzz saw," said Eddie Bautista, executive director of NYC Environmental Justice Alliance. "They hired three sectors of professional hit men – the lawyers, the lobbying firms, the PR firms."

Tenant/Inquilino: Cuomo sides with landlords; Heastie stance unclear

Cuomo Openly Sides With Landlords;
Wants No Changes to Rent Laws, 421-a
Michael McKee
Published: May 2015

Andrew Cuomo finally said something about the expiring rent laws. On April 21, the governor told reporters that both the 421-a tax break for developers and the rent laws covering New York City and Nassau, Westchester, and Rockland counties should be renewed. Both laws expire June 15. 

Then in an April 24 speech to the Association for a Better New York, chaired by real estate developer Bill Rudin, Cuomo told the assembled business elite that the turmoil resulting from federal probes into legislative corruption might make it hard to accomplish more than renewing 421-a and the rent laws without any changes. “We can’t live without 421-a,” Cuomo told the ABNY members. “Many people want changes to 421-a, and in truth there’s a good case to be made that 421-a does need changes.” He said he would be better able to negotiate if Albany was in “a little bit more of a stable situation.”

Get in touch with your legislators, even if they support tenants and even if you have done so already. Write a letter to Governor Cuomo. Recruit your neighbors. Get on a bus to Albany on Tuesday, May 27 and/or Tuesday, June 9. And show up at your Rent Guidelines Board meetings. 

For more information, get in touch with Ilana Maier at (212)979-6238 or 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Times (and NY Times) they are a changin' - and support REAL RENT REFORM NOW

NY Times

. . . .

The reforms involve the state’s rent-stabilization law and an obsolete tax break for developers. Both expire on June 15, and reforming them is an important goal of tenants’ advocates and of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has made it his mission to preserve and expand the city’s endangered supply of affordable housing.  Click on the link for the full editorial.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

May 14 - more important than ever! Come to Foley Square at 5 PM

Thursday, MAY 14, 2015 
Just 6 weeks until the rent laws expire - and 
Gov. Cuomo is tamping down expectations of 
anything other than just extending the laws as
 they are.  That would mean losing tens of 
thousands more apartments through vacancy 
deregulation and the resulting displacement of 
many, many New Yorkers.

Gov. Cuomo: Where's your support for stronger rent laws?

Mayor de Blasio's Plan for Affordable Housing

Mayor de Blasio has proposed STATE laws that he says would create 60,000 units of affordable housing
  • Increase 421A tax break affordable housing requirements from 20% to 25-30% of units built.  421A would apply to rental housing only (not condos), and the affordable units would stay affordable only for 35 years - not permanently.
  • To the existing 1% sales tax for apartments selling for $1 million or more, add 1% for those selling at $1.75 million or more, and another 0.5% for apartments $5 million or more.
  •  End vacancy decontrol of apartments
  •  End the current 20% rent increase when an apartment becomes vacant.
  •  Limit Major Capital Improvement and Individual Apartment Increases so they are not permanent.
See the details in:

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cuomo & Heastie positions on 421-A

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker are positioning themselves for end-of-session negotiations over renewal of the rent laws and the 421-a program. 
  • Cuomo is angling for renewing both programs in the current form – exactly what the real estate lobby wants. 
  • Heastie says he wants “enhancements” to the rent laws. The three articles below shed light on this early maneuvering.

Strategy and Rent Law Lobbying - Gotham Gazette article

The Gotham Gazette, Strategy Meetings SIgnal Coming Flurry of Rent Law Lobbying


There are differing proposals for how to improve rent control for tenants and it is unlikely any individual bill proposed in the Legislature will become the solution as a bill package will almost certainly be hashed out in secret by Cuomo and the leaders of each house. But a few of the ideas include limiting landlords' ability to increase rent after repairs so that once the repairs are paid off rent would return to a baseline. There is also talk of ending vacancy decontrol and stopping landlords from being able to increase rent by 20 percent once an apartment becomes vacant.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Watch / listen to a clear explanation of the rent issues

City & State has a good interview with Tom Waters of the Community Service Society (he spoke at one of our tenant association meetings) and Jose Lopez of Make the Road NY.

They explain the main issues at stake for the next 6 weeks - before the rent laws expire on June 15th!