Should landlords worry about retroactive re-regulation?

The bill was proposed last year and was referred to the housing committee in January

Feb.February 04, 2020 05:30 PM
Assembly member Linda Rosenthal (Credit: Getty Images)

Assembly member Linda Rosenthal (Credit: Getty Images)

It appears landlords don’t have to worry about the re-regulation of certain apartments — at least for now.

For several years, Assembly member Linda Rosenthal has proposed a variation of eliminating vacancy decontrol, as well as the re-regulation of apartments rented below a certain rate. Last April, her vacancy decontrol bill was part of a package of measures proposed by the state Assembly. While the vacancy decontrol component was ultimately included in the bill signed into law in June, the re-regulation requirement was left on the cutting room floor.

Rosenthal wouldn’t rule out revisiting the outstanding elements of her bill, which called for units deregulated upon vacancy that were rented out after Jan. 1, 2013, at a rate of less than $5,000 (if outside the city, $3,500) to be re-regulated. The assembly member noted that the legislature is still shaping its housing agenda for this session, but she’s now focused on landlords who are warehousing rent-regulated apartments in hopes of the law changing or in combining units to set new first rents. She indicated that landlords should also watch warehousing as an area ripe for change.

“What they should be concerned about is that they are keeping apartments off the market,” Rosenthal said Monday.

Regardless, Jay Martin, president of the Community Housing Improvement Program, said he and others in the industry are wary of the re-regulation bill.

“The current political environment is such that any bill that’s proposed with this many sponsors has to be taken seriously,” he said.

The bill has more than two dozen sponsors in the Assembly. A message seeking comment from Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins was not returned.

Martin added that, in practice, enforcing the measure would be “a logistical nightmare,” he said.

Other bills that didn’t secure approval last year, including good cause eviction, are expected to resurface this session. Sen. Zellnor Myrie, who represents Central Brooklyn, also plans to introduce legislation that would give tenants the first opportunity to buy their building if it is put up for sale. Affordable housing developers and others argue such a proposal wouldn’t work without substantial public subsidies.

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