ALBANY MOVES ON RENT LAW

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The Assembly passed the first broad package of bills revising the state’s rent regulation laws last week. Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal drafted a bill hat would lift the $2,000 cap on protecting rent regulated apartments. Currently, landlords can remove apartments from rent regulation if the rent is $2,000 or more a month, and then rent the unit at market rate. In Rosenthal’s legislation, the thousands of apartments that rent for less than $5,000 a month would be re-regulated.

“Over the past 15 years, landlords have been encroaching on the rights of tenants,” Rosenthal said. “Vacancy decontrol encourages bad behavior by landlords who can harass tenants to get them out and raise rents substantially.”

Rosenthal drafted this bill in the past, which passed in the Democratic-dominated Assembly, only to be thwarted by the former State Senate Republican Majority.

Other laws in the package include limiting the amount that landlords can increase rent on a vacant apartment to 10 percent, down from 20 percent; limiting the ability of a landlord to recover an apartment for personal use to one unit per property; and repealing the Urstadt Law, which would give control of rent regulation to the city.

The bills show a change in legislative priorities, as the new Senate Democratic majority, consisting of mostly urban senators, supports pro-tenant legislation.

“The Senate Democrats have long been committed to protecting middle income families by improving rent regulation laws,” said Austin Shafran, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith. “Right now our top priority is working with the governor and other legislative leaders to address the budget shortfall, but we will be addressing this issue in the coming weeks.”

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