POINT OF VIEW
Don't let rent regulations expire
By Senator Adriano Espaillat
June 01, 2011
Middle class and working families have always been New York’s economic engine. A steady supply of housing has served to fuel this engine, particularly during harsh fiscal times. With New York on the verge of losing rent laws that protect millions of tenants, there is a serious housing crisis staring middle-class and working families in the eye.
On June 15, laws regulating more than a million apartment units in New York City and beyond will expire. If you live in one of these rent-regulated apartments, this will have a devastating impact. Rents will skyrocket, tenant abuse and harassment will intensify and families will be squeezed out of their homes. For the general taxpayer, this will mean footing the bill for housing shelters and other social safety net programs that are already being stretched thin, thanks to the longest recession in this nation’s history.
That’s why I have sponsored legislation (S. 2783 – A) that will extend and strengthen regulations. My bill, which has been endorsed by every major housing advocacy group in New York, will repeal vacancy decontrol, prevent rent hikes, and close loopholes that adversely affect tenants, and in turn destabilize the housing market at large. The legislation will reform “MCI” and “IAI” practices, often used by landlords to raise rents on the premise of “improvements” made to apartment units. My legislation will result in tenants no longer having to pay for improvements long after costs have been recovered, saving tenants thousands of dollars. It will also repeal the “Urstadt Law,” taking away power from upstate lawmakers to regulate New York City rent regulations.
Housing regulations can be a complicated — and not at all sexy — issue to talk about. Ultimately, they’re about keeping a roof over people’s heads. In conversations with Governor Cuomo and my legislative colleagues, I have urged them to consider extending and strengthening rent regulations as a means to stabilize New York’s dwindling stock of affordable housing.
Additionally, extending and strengthening rent regulations will allow New York to continue to be economically diverse, preventing this from becoming a tale of two cities.
Over the last decade, our middle class and working families have been battered by the economic crisis. The last thing they need is a major blow to their housing needs that could cost them their homes.
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat is in his first term in the state Senate. He is the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Housing Committee. He is the main sponsor of legislation that will extend and strengthen rent regulations. His district ranges from Manhattan’s Upper West Side to Riverdale. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.