By Adam Wisniewski
Thursday, April 21st, 2011
On April 13th, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat unveiled a countdown clock that will be ticking away in Albany until Wednesday, June 15, the day rent regulations will expire if they are not renewed by the state legislature.
The clock is meant to remind everyone of the deadline, but Mr. Espaillat said it’s aimed at Senate Republicans, who are sure to be a major hurdle in the passage of a rent regulation package.
As the clock ticks, the battle heats up.
The Assembly’s rent regulation package would extend current rent regulations until 2016 and also get rid of vacancy decontrol – which allows landlords to deregulate apartments when tenants leave and the rent is more than $2,000.
It would alter luxury decontrol by raising the earning limit for tenants who qualify for regulated apartments from $175,000 for two consecutive years with rents of $2,000 to $300,000 with rents over $3,000.
The Democratic-majority Assembly has now passed the rent regulations bill and the Republican-majority Senate has passed a property tax cap, opposed by most Democrats.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bill to place a 2 percent cap on property tax has been floating around the Assembly for a while, but since the bills have criss-crossed houses, neither has been voted on by the full legislature and the Assembly might hold the property tax cap bill ransom in exchange for their rent regulations bill and vice versa.
When Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was asked about passing the tax cap bill, he noted that the Assembly is in session until June 22, according to news reports, indicating that he is in no rush to bring it to the table.
If rent regulations expire, more than 1 million rent-regulated apartments in the city would be deregulated, which could mean large increases for many tenants.
“Just in case Albany needed a reminder that we’re up against the clock when it comes to addressing New Yorker’s housing needs, the rent regulations countdown will serve the purpose. When it comes to making sure that our constituents remain in their homes, we simply cannot afford to waste any more time. The Assembly has passed rent regulations; the Governor has pledged his support for the cause; not the Senate must step up and get this done,” Mr. Espaillat said in a press release, which included a picture of him and the countdown clock.
Mr. Espaillat, the ranking Democrat on the Senate’s Housing Committee and the main sponsor for a bill, S.2783-A, that extends and strengthens rent regulations, has made the issue his number one priority.If the property tax cap is used as leverage for passing rent regulations, Mr. Cuomo could find himself in a pretty tight spot, seeing as its his property tax cap bill and he also told Democrats he was for extending rent regulations.