Governor offers renters a break - Metro US

Governor offers renters a break

Despite the stalemate in Albany over the budget, Gov. David Paterson is trying to tackle another thorny issue: rent regulation.

Proposed changes unveiled Wednesday include raising the threshold for removing a vacant apartment from rent stabilization from $2,000 a month to $3,000 (to be adjusted annually), marking the first cap increase since 1993. It would extend state rent laws — set to expire next year — for eight years.

The new threshold would slow the loss of the city’s 1 million rent stabilized apartments, Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner Brian Lawlor said. “It’s a significant hurdle for rents to rise, particularly outside Manhattan.”

Neither tenant advocates nor landlords were pleased.

Despite claims, it would not slow the exodus of affordable rent regulated apartments, Michael Mc-Kee, executive director of Housing Here and Now, said. “Nothing short of full repeal of vacancy decontrol, and re-regulation of the 300,000 apartments we have lost in the last 16 years, will do.”

“It really makes no sense from our perspective,” Frank Ricci, of the Rent Stabilization Association landlord group, said. Citing a 5 percent vacancy rate for $1,400 a month apartments and 7 percent for $2,000, he said, “There’s no economic reason to regulate apartments at that level when there are so many affordable units.”

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