The Real Deal New York

City Council to declare ritual rent emergency

Measure is required to pass certain rent-regulation laws

February 26, 2015 12:00PM

From left: Jumaane Williams and Corey Johnson

From left: Jumaane Williams and Corey Johnson

In the run-up to June’s rent regulation showdown in Albany, the City Council today will introduce measures to declare a rent emergency in the five boroughs, a ritual that the body goes through periodically as a prerequisite to passing certain rent-regulation laws.

The declarations happen every three years after a required survey of the city’s rental stock. In order to declare an emergency, the city’s vacancy rate must fall at or below 5 percent. According to the most recent survey, the current vacancy rate is 3.45 percent, Capital New York reported.

The legislation, comprised of a bill sponsored by Council member Corey Johnson and a resolution sponsored by Council member Jumaane Williams, is expected to pass without issue and is considered a formality that the City Council must go through before Albany can act on rent regulation. However, according to Michael McKee, treasurer of the Tenants Political Action Committee, this is based on somewhat of a misconception.

While the City Council must declare a rent emergency in order to justify the city’s rent protections, which apply to tens of thousands of apartments, the emergency declaration is not legally required for Albany to pass its broader rent-stabilization law, which protects about one million New York City units. [Capital NY] — Tess Hofmann

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