Lawmakers introduce bill to keep rent regulation alive

Proposal aims to close vacancy escape hatch for years

New York /
Jul.July 30, 2020 12:36 PM
Assemblyman Harvey Epstein and Senator Brad Hoylman (Epstein by Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images; Hoylman by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Assemblyman Harvey Epstein and Senator Brad Hoylman (Epstein by Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images; Hoylman by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Two state lawmakers have introduced bills aimed at ensuring the pandemic does not unravel rent regulation in New York.

The twin bills, introduced Tuesday in the Senate and Assembly, propose removing the vacancy rate from the criteria for rent regulation until years after the worst of the pandemic is over, according to The City.

The rationale for rent regulation is that there is a “housing emergency,” meaning a vacancy rate of less than 5 percent. However the exodus from New York has pushed the rate up, raising questions about whether rent regulation is at risk.

Introduced by Manhattan Democrats, Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblyman Harvey Epstein, the bills would pause the vacancy tally — the housing and vacancy survey done every three or four years — until two years after the state lifts its emergency declaration stemming from Covid.

“This would forestall any ending of the housing emergency and allow the market to stabilize,” Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, told The City.

The next vacancy survey is due to be released in 2022. Epstein said the lawmakers did not want the numbers skewed by residents who left for short periods during the pandemic.

“We don’t want that to have any impact on the structure … around affordable housing,” he said.

The bar for unraveling rent regulation is high — and many experts consider such a move unlikely.

“I’m not inclined to believe all that much will change,” real estate attorney Michael Dabah told The Real Deal in June. “Such a quick reversal strikes me as highly unlikely in the face of the fairly recent shift in momentum.” [The City] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan


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