The timing couldn’t be more crucial as these laws are set to expire this year, meaning state and city lawmakers, especially those who ran on pro-tenant platforms, have a chance to strengthen the laws that govern the relationship between many tenants and landlords, a relationship “exacerbated by tight housing markets,” CSS’ report says. There are currently 966,000 apartments, or 45 percent of the rental market, that are considered rents stabilized. Of those, 365,000 are low-income households, twice the number of those living in public and subsidized housing, the report adds.
Rent regulation defines how rents are determined, sets standards for basic habitability, and limits fees like security deposits. However, loopholes for Major Capital Improvements allow landlords to raise rents when they perform building improvements (such as a new boiler). And when the City Council approved a vacancy decontrol bill in 1994 that allowed landlords to deregulate apartments that had reached a threshold of $2,000 a month, 291,000 rent-stabilized units were lost.
The loopholes “make tenant turnover financially beneficial to landlords, creating an incentive for harassment and fraud,” the report says. “On a broader scale, the rent law loopholes undermine neighborhood-level stability, especially in gentrifying areas.”
To strengthen rent laws, CSS urges state lawmakers to repeal vacancy decontrol and bonuses, reform MCIs, remove geographic restrictions, and pass a law to extend security of tenure, or the right to lease renewal, to unregulated and month-to-month tenants.
“For the first time since the 1970s, there is momentum for the expansion of tenant protections statewide,” the report says.
Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.