Assemblymember Brook-Krasny: Assembly passes legislation protecting renters

June 18, 2008
Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny (D-Coney Island, Dyker Heights) announced the Assembly passed a package of legislation that he supported to protect tenants living in rent-stabilized buildings.

"We're in the middle of uncertain economic times and an affordable housing crisis in New York State," Brook-Krasny said. "Mitchell-Lama housing offers help to families living in high-rent areas, providing some stability in a difficult housing market."

The Assembly's legislation would:

  • provide incentives for landlords to stay in the Mitchell-Lama program and would give rent-stabilization protection to New York City tenants in units of rental developments that were bought out (A.795);
  • extend the period of time before limited-profit housing companies may dissolve from 20 to 50 years (A.793); and
  • give post-buyout rent stabilization to Nassau, Westchester and Rockland county tenants in buildings formerly owned by limited-profit housing companies (A.4196).

Earlier this year, the Assembly also passed a bill requiring early notification to tenants for buyouts (A.797), Brook-Krasny said.

"With many housing companies opting to buy out of the Mitchell-Lama program in order to make larger profits, something must be done to encourage housing companies to remain in the Mitchell-Lama program," Brook-Krasny said.

The Assemblyman said the New York State Mitchell-Lama program was created in 1955 to give hardworking families access to affordable housing.

"Without these crucial protections, many families will be forced out of their homes," Brook-Krasny said. "We must do everything we can to safeguard tenants from landlords seeking to oust them to get higher rents. Protecting New York's affordable housing is of utmost importance and I urge the Senate and governor to support this important legislation."

The Assembly also passed a legislative package extending and modifying the Loft Law – which was originally enacted in 1982 to let people live in a commercial loft space.

Assemblyman Brook-Krasny said when businesses and industries began to leave New York City neighborhoods in the 1970s and 1980s, they left desolate, empty buildings behind. Consequently, building owners began renting loft space in these buildings to young people and artists looking for affordable housing.

"Many of these new residents renovated the spaces themselves – turning bare, vacant space into attractive living units," Brook-Krasny said. "In the process, they helped revitalize their struggling neighborhoods – creating cultural and artistic centers that help make New York City the greatest city in the world."

Brook-Krasny said the Loft Law is a way to protect residents from arbitrary evictions and rent hikes and has been extended repeatedly since its inception. The legislation passed by the Assembly would extend the law until May 31, 2011 – providing additional oversight for interim multiple dwellings and remedies for residents (A. 2816-A); and include buildings used for residential purposes for a period of 12 consecutive months as interim multiple dwellings under the Loft Law (A.4726-B).

"This extension will preserve homes for thousands of loft residents in the communities they helped build," Brook-Krasny said. "It's time to make this important legislation permanent."

Another bill, passed earlier in the legislative session, prohibits owners who have rented commercial spaces for residential purposes from interrupting or discontinuing any services which have customarily been provided to the residential tenants (A.2875-A).

The Assembly also recently passed a 9-bill rent-regulation package to help tenants, which include measures to:

  • increase the amount of civil penalties the Division of Housing and Community Renewal could impose on landlords who harass tenants or who violate DHCR orders related to rent-regulated housing (A.10823);
  • repeal provisions of the law that take units out of the rent-regulated system (A.7416-A);
  • limit a building owner's ability to recover a rent-regulated apartment for personal use (A.799);
  • increase the rent and income deregulation thresholds for luxury, high-income tenants (A.10647);
  • require landlords who charge a rent lower than the maximum amount to offer that same rent as long as the same tenant resides in the apartment (A.10055-A);
  • reduce the amount of rent increase after a vacancy from 20 percent to 10 percent and limit the number of allowable increases per year (A.2894);
  • give New York City more power to regulate rents by removing the provision of law prohibiting cities of 1 million or more residents from strengthening rent-regulation laws (A.4069);
  • permit the declaration of an emergency pursuant to the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA) for rental housing accommodations located in buildings covered by a project-based assistance contract pursuant to Section 8 of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 (A.5677); and
  • extend the length of time over which major capital improvement (MCI) expenses may be recovered and require that rent surcharges authorized for MCIs cease when the cost of the improvement has been recovered (A.6510).

"Without rent regulation, only the most affluent residents would be able to afford living in New York City,” Brook-Krasny said. “It's critical that we ensure those individuals and families can continue to afford to live here."