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Why It Matters: Rent Reform

Posted by Melvin Monachan | Jul 02, 2019 | 0 Comments

It's no secret that there's an affordable housing crisis plaguing New York City. But since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, he's ignited a small light at the end of the tunnel. His short-term solution to this incredibly convoluted issue has been to build an unprecedented quantity of affordable apartments. However, questions about how the term “affordable” has been quantified have been raised.

This issue spans beyond city lines: According to research conducted by the Upstate Downstate Housing Alliance, it's estimated that approximately 3 million New York state residents are renting, and nearly half of them are paying more than a whopping 30% of their annual income in rent.

How did we get here? Current legislation has caused thousands of rent-regulated apartments to be lost. These laws give landlords ample breathing room to take these out of regulation, while the cost of living mounts and continues to exceed most residents' ability to pay these rising rent rates.

Tenants have long felt that the current legislation offers very few protections for them against greedy landlords and the nature of the real estate market. In one month, these laws will expire, and significant reforms may be enacted.

Since last year, tenants' rights advocates have vehemently promoted a platform known as “universal rent control” that is comprised of several pieces of legislation. If implemented, these laws would be enforced statewide in various ways.

One notable change is the end of vacancy decontrol and bonuses. When a rent-stabilized apartment reaches the maximum legal rent rate ($2,733 a month) it can revert to market-rate, which is a traditionally lower rate, after a tenant breaks a lease. Also, landlords wouldn't be legally allowed to spike rent between tenants.

Universal rent control would also end individual apartment improvements (IAI) loopholes. Currently, landlords have the liberty to raise rent rates if they make renovations that directly or indirectly benefit all tenants, or when there's been a major increase of dwelling space or increase in the services provided by an owner.

Universal rent control would also override the preferential rent loophole, which currently dictates that landlords of rent-stabilized apartments can offer units to tenants that is either lower or higher than the legal regulated rent when a lease is renewed.

Lastly, and most importantly to many tenants, the proposed legislation would prohibit evictions without “good cause.”

As with most proposed legislation, the public has expressed a mixed reaction to the reform. Tenants' rights advocates and agencies have, of course, shown unwavering for the bill. Landlords have obviously lobbied against what they consider are radical reforms.

But as of now, whether or not the universal rent bill will be enacted is still shrouded in mystery. The state Assembly and the Senate will be conducting hearings across the state leading up to the end of the legislative session, where both sides of the debate can be heard. The laws expired on June 15.

Contact New York Real Estate Attorney Melvin Monachan Today

In landlord/tenant disputes, time is of the essence. At the Law Offices of Melvin Monachan, PLLC, we've helped people in this situation battle unfair evictions and keep their residencies. We can help you find a viable solution also. Contact us today by filling out a contact or give us a call at (516) 714-5763.

About the Author

Melvin Monachan

Melvin Monachan is the founder of The Law Office of Melvin Monachan, PLLC, a full service, real estate law firm representing individuals, investors and corporate entities in all aspects of real estate law. On the transactional side, Melvin represents purchasers and...

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