The Let Down on Rent
June 21st, 2011
Tenant advocates and Democratic legislators from the city were confused when the news first hit–the outline of how rent laws would be renewed and amended under the “big ugly” negotiated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, just didn’t make sense to them.
“If this deal is as it has been reported to us it is an unmitigated disaster,” said Tenants PAC treasurer Michael McKee. McKee said that he felt “sold out” by Cuomo and what tenants were getting for what Cuomo gave up to Republicans was pathetic. After reports of Cuomo’s tough talk last week they expected much more. So what does the deal do?
Landlords who claim to have made major improvements will have to have their work checked by the state housing department. The 421-a tax credit that gives developers a tax break for setting aside 20 percent of a building for affordable housing will continue for four years. Vacancy decontrol is not done away with but the guidelines for it have increased. Rent will go from 2,000 to 2,500 and maximum annual income will increase from $175,00 to $200,000. The rent laws will expire in 4 years and will be combined in a bill the a property tax cap that will expire in 5 years. Sound similar to what Fred Dicker of the New York Post reported yesterday?
“With all that we gave up to the other side I don’t know that this is a good deal yet,” said Sen. Adriano Espaillat.
Cuomo told reporters in a gaggle outside his office that the agreement was better than the last one. That deal was reached under a Republican governor. He said the deal, “extends and strengthens the laws,” and is, “much better than the last arrangement.” But with all the tough talk last week of him declaring a rent emergency and giving the council control of the rent laws the deal is a major let down to advocates who were expecting something much more comprehensive. In fact rumors are circling the Capitol that Cuomo caved on rent to guarantee a vote on gay marriage.Senate† Republicans say that haven’t decided when or if they will bring same-sex marriage to a vote. Progressive legislators from the city have insisted that Cuomo will need both gay marriage and a strong agreement on rent laws win the Democratic base. So far he has not delivered.
Meanwhile, the details of the framework deal is still being hashed out behind closed doors. No bill language exists yet and the legislature isn’t expected to start voting on the deal until tomorrow.By David King on June 21, 2011, 7:41 pm
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