Sunday, December 23, 2018

2019 Platform for Universal Rent Regulation

Housing Justice for All's 
Published Dec. 2018

For more than 70 years, New Yorkers 
across the state have benefited from 
various forms of rent control, which protects 
tenants from unjust evictions and arbitrary 
rent increases. Now, however, that system 
has been eroded so much that it only applies 
to tenants in eight counties. It has been 
weakened with loopholes that encourage 
tenant harassment and allow sudden and 
permanent rent hikes. Since 1994, we 
have lost nearly 300,000 units of affordable, 
rent-stabilized housing. Five million renters in 
New York State have no protections whatsoever. 

Every tenant in New York, no matter 
where they live, deserves the same basic 
In 2019, New York State’s renter protection 
framework — commonly known as rent 
stabilization — will expire. Our Housing Justice 
for All campaign is fighting for a legislative 
agenda that would stabilize neighborhoods 
and eliminate the control that corporate 
landlords have over housing in New York 

Our priorities would: 

Expand renters’ rights across New York 
State, and return renters’ rights to 
hundreds of thousands of households. 

Remove geographic restrictions in the Emergency 
Tenant Protection Act (ETPA): Under the ETPA, commonly known 
as rent stabilization, tenants have the right to renew their lease and 
landlords are limited in how much they can raise rents. Local elected 
officials have the right to “opt in” to the ETPA and enact basic renter 
protections to control rising housing costs and displacement. However, 
that ETPA only applies to eight downstate counties. This arbitrary 
restriction prevents tenants in Kingston or Rochester from having 
the basic protections that many tenants in New York City have. 

Pass “good cause” eviction protections: 
Good-cause eviction legislation, a common-sense renter 
protection that exists in New Jersey, would give every 
tenant the right to a renewal lease, with a minimal 
rent increase based on local market conditions. 
Unlike rent stabilization, which only applies to 
buildings with six or more units in New York City and 
the surrounding counties, good-cause eviction 
protection would apply to all renters, regardless 
of where they live. 
Good-cause eviction protections should also 
be extended to cover lot rents in  manufactured-home 
communities, which are increasingly owned by corporate 
real-estate players. 

End vacancy decontrol: Vacancy decontrol lets 
landlords permanently deregulate apartments once 
the rent reaches $2,733 a month and the current 
occupant moves out. This has led to the loss of 
hundreds of thousands of stable homes, and will 
lead to the eventual phasing out of all renter 
protections — a windfall for landlords and a 
catastrophic loss for tenants. Our plan calls for 
repealing vacancy decontrol and re-regulating 
units that have been lost to this egregious loophole. 

Stop sudden and permanent rent 
hikes that displace tenants from 
their homes: 

Protect preferential-rent tenants: A preferential rent is 
a discounted rent that tenants pay when the legally registered 
rent exceeds what a landlord can charge in the market. But
this discounted rent can be quickly snatched away when
their lease expires, leading to sudden and permanent rent 
hikes. These rent hikes, often hundreds of dollars, 
accelerate gentrification by forcing tenants to give up their 
homes and move. Preferential rents should last for the 
duration of the tenancy. This also means that all rent 
increases would be based on the amount that a tenant 
pays when they move into their apartment. 

Eliminate major capital improvements: 
Under our current system, landlords that upgrade 
building systems are able to pass the cost of those 
repairs onto tenants forever. However, many of these 
building systems repairs are necessary after years of 
neglect, and landlords often overstate the cost and extent 
of renovations. We would ban landlords from passing
the costs of maintaining and upgrading their investments 
onto tenants. 

Eliminate the corporate takeover 
of housing, and give tenants’ 
power over where they live: 

Stop rewarding tenant harassment: Under rent 
stabilization, landlords receive a 20 percent “vacancy bonus” 
rent increase every time an apartment becomes 
vacant. This gives landlords a big incentive to harass 
and evict people from the place they’ve called home 
for years. When an apartment becomes vacant,
landlords can increase rent even more through 
unnecessary and often fraudulent “individual 
apartment improvements.” These cause rents to 
skyrocket, and eventually take apartments out of 
regulation altogether. We would end the vacancy 
bonus and permanent rent hikes for individual 
apartment improvements. 

Right of first refusal: As predatory-equity 
companies buy up manufactured-housing 
communities, state law should give residents 
the right to purchase them as they go on the market. 

Tenants’ right to take legal action: When tenants 
don’t pay their rent, landlords are quick to take them 
to court for eviction proceedings. But tenants don’t 
have the same options when landlords aren’t making 
repairs. They should have the ability to take landlords 
to court for bad conditions and neglect. 

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