Policy Minute: Rent Regulation Reform

Research & Policy | April 12th 2019

City Street with text Policy Minute

State lawmakers are gearing up to take action on the state rent laws that are set to expire in June. New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie recently announced a package of bills aimed at strengthening rent regulation laws and increasing tenant protections. The package includes bills that aim to eliminate both vacancy decontrol and programs that permit rent increases due to major capital improvements and individual apartment improvements. An additional bill would require that rent increases imposed at lease renewal be based on the preferential rate which was charged to the tenant instead of the maximum legal regulated rent. Other bills in the wide-ranging legislative package address rent caps and offer additional potential protections.

The Assembly will hold public hearings on the proposals on May 2nd in New York City and May 9th in Albany.

As public debate continues to grow about rent regulation reform, this Policy Minute explores recent developments, discussion, and research. 

Recently

During its first meeting of the year, The Rent Guidelines Board released a pair of studies on the expenses and affordability of the city’s rent-stabilized apartments. Read the 2019 Income and Expense Study and the 2019 Income and Affordability Study.

Albany lawmakers are going to be “laser-focused” on rent regulations in the coming weeks of the legislative sessions.

New York landlords push back on rent reform with new ad campaign. In anticipation of potential reforms, several real estate groups have launched a digital and television ad campaign to push back on proposals that would restrict landlords’ abilities to raise rents for tenants receiving preferential rents and upon vacancy.

By the Numbers

  • Median gross rent in 2017 (2017$):
    • All rent-stabilized units: $1,375
    • All market-rate rental units: $1,830
  • Number of rent-stabilized units that are one, 20 percent vacancy allowance away from decontrol threshold of $2,733 (rent greater than $2,277 and less than $2,733): 47,409 or a little over 5% of all rent stabilized units.
  • The Rent Guidelines Board Price Index of Operating Cost increased 4.5% this year compared to the Consumer Price Index which rose by 1.8%. The RGB allowed increases last year were 1.5 percent for one-year leases and 2.5 percent for two year leases.

Sources: New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey microdata (2017), NYU Furman Center

Furman Center Research and Resources:

 

Other Research and Reports:

Additional Viewpoints

  • In an opinion piece published by Crain’s, landlords argue that major capital improvement and individual apartment improvement incentive programs have enhanced the quality of the city’s affordable housing stock.
  • On the Max and Murphy podcast, representatives from the Rent Stabilization Association, a landlord trade organization, and TenantsPAC, a tenant organization group, share differing priorities for rent reform.
  • In Crain’s New York Business, housing advocates contend that landlords exploit loopholes and limited oversight in order to increase rents on thousands of regulated units.
  • The Community Service Society of New York report, Rent Regulation in NYC: How it Works, What Went Wrong and How to Fix It, provides a detailed overview of rent regulation, describing how the system functions today, its evolution over time, and how it compares to other forms of rent control in the United States.

 

Elsewhere

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