“They are frozen”: Cuomo says rent regulation is being held up by Senate politics

Rent laws expire in four days
By Kathryn Brenzel and Georgia Kromrei | June 11, 2019 02:50PM

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (Credit: Getty Images)

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (Credit: Getty Images)

With only four days until the rent laws expire, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the legislature isn’t negotiating — it’s waiting on a Senate that is afraid to alienate real estate and tenant advocates alike.

“They are frozen,” the governor said after an unrelated press conference on Tuesday. “I’m trying to apply heat to the frozen situation because the law is going to expire.”

He said expiration of the laws on June 15 will result in “chaos and mayhem.”

Since last week, the governor has repeatedly challenged the Senate, which announced that it had the necessary support for all nine housing bills, which include eliminating the Major Capital Improvements and Individual Apartment Improvements programs and enacting “good cause eviction” statewide.

The governor said Long Island representatives and others outside New York City don’t want to take the reforms too far. Meanwhile, New York City officials “don’t want to go back with half a loaf,” because they fear that if they don’t ramp up tenant protections significantly, they will face primary challenges from more progressive challengers. Cuomo said they deserve to be primaried if they don’t get enough done on rent regulations, as well as issues including legalizing surrogacy contracts and marijuana.

When asked at another press conference if she took the governor’s comments as a threat, Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “No. I just take it as the governor talking.”

She wouldn’t specify whether or not the Senate was ready to introduce and vote on the rent bills, but noted that it’s usually the governor who initiates three-way discussions with the Senate and Assembly. She said the Senate continues to work on the package.

“The good news is that we are aware of the deadlines as well,” she said.

Cuomo concluded the press conference by saying “at the end of the day, I believe it’s going to be a very successful legislative session.” He said the Assembly is willing to approve a modified bill package out of the Senate, which he would then sign. Last week, The Real Deal detailed some of the key changes to the bills the Senate has discussed.

For now, stakeholders on the sidelines are in a holding pattern.

“I know enough about the legislative process, that there’s outside the room, in the room, and there’s the back room. If you’re not in the back room, you have no idea what’s going on, notwithstanding what is being said publicly,” said Ken Fisher, a real estate lawyer with Cozen O’Connor. “From having been outside the room, in the room and in the back room at different points in my career, I know the difference, and I know not to get excited until the handshake.”