Laws regulating rent-stabilized housing are set to expire in June 2019. Democrats control the Senate, Assembly, and the governor’s office in New York State and both landlord and tenant lobbying groups predict that the laws will change to favor renters.
The anticipated law changes come at a time when affordable housing is a contentious issue in New York City. New York University’s Furman Center, which focuses on housing research, estimates that the city lost nearly 234,000 affordable apartments between 2002 and 2014. Rent-stabilized units are in high demand in New York City. Annual rent increases are set by a state board and currently stand at 1.5 to 2.5 percent, depending on the duration of the lease.
Contentious issues that the New York State Legislature will consider for June include regulating landlords’ ability to convert rent-stabilized units to fair market housing (currently set at $2,775) and limiting the amount that landlords can raise rents upon lease renewals due to renovations.
Tensions between landlords and renters are not uncommon. Take the case of Bronx resident Corine Golden. She alleged that her landlord neglects aging properties and fail to provide basic utilities, like heat and hot water, in order to force tenants out of their apartments. Current laws are interpreted by some legislators and renters to incentivize this type of behavior. For example, landlords are able to increase rent on subsidized units by 20 percent when an apartment is vacated.
Organizations that represent the interests of landlords caution that stricter laws could lead to worse living conditions for low-income tenants. The Real Estate Board of New York claims that the cost of maintaining and operating rent-stabilized buildings outpaces the rate of annual rent increases established by the city. Landlords like Joyce Iskander, Vice President of Intervest Development Corporation, warns that potential changes to housing laws will result in exorbitant costs to landlords to preserve their properties.
New Yorkers continue to pay more year over year to rent an apartment (source: American Community Survey)..