Report to Community Board 3
February 24, 2009
Kavanagh and the Assembly Move on Housing Laws: With a change of leadership in the State Senate, the Assembly has moved quickly this year on significant housing legislation. On January 16th, Assemblymember Kavanagh and his colleagues on the Assembly’s Housing Committee held a public hearing to examine what actions can be taken to preserve the existing supply of rent regulated housing in New York and to encourage the development of new units. This hearing was followed by a vote on the Assembly’s ten-bill rent regulation package that passed the Assembly on February 2nd. The package includes bills to eliminate vacancy decontrol, increase penalties for tenant harassment, and limits the length of time over which a landlord can recoup the costs of major capital improvements (MCIs). Kavanagh is a prime sponsor of each of these bills and is fighting to ensure that they pass both houses of the legislature this year. The legislative package will now be referred to the Senate. In addition, as reported last month, one of Kavanagh’s bills (A514), which would prohibit landlords from employing key-card systems that track personal information without tenants’ consent, passed the Assembly’s Cities Committee and is expected to be voted on soon by the full Assembly. The 10-bill package includes measures to:
- Give New York City and other municipalities the power to provide tenant protections greater than those offered by State law, by repealing the “Urstadt law” (A1688).
- Repeal “vacancy decontrol” provisions that allow landlords to take vacant units out of the rent-regulated system (A2005).
- Increase the thresholds above which landlords can take apartments out of the system under “high income decontrol,” raising the household income threshold from $175,000 to $240,000 and the monthly rent threshold from $2,000 to $2,700 (A860).
- Limit the length of time over which landlords may charge tenants for major capital improvement (MCI) expenses, requiring the rent surcharges for MCIs cease when the cost of the improvement has been recovered (A1928).
- Increase civil penalties the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) can impose on landlords who harass tenants or who violate DHCR orders related to rent-regulated housing (A2002).
- Reduce the allowable rent increase after a vacancy from 20 percent to 10 percent and limit the number of increases per year (A1686).
- Limit a landlord’s ability to evict tenants to accommodate the landlord’s personal use of the apartment (A1685).
- Ensure that tenants in housing stabilized by a federal Section 8 project-based assistance contract receive the benefits of rent stabilization when the federal subsidy runs out (A1687).
- Require landlords who charge a rent lower than the maximum amount to offer that same base rent as long as the same tenant resides in the apartment (A465).
- Protect tenants in Mitchell-Lama developments by prohibiting an owner from applying for a rent increase based on unique and peculiar circumstance when a project withdraws from the program (A857).