State Senator Jeffrey Klein balks at repealing Urstadt Law

Legislation, which gives Albany oversight of NYC rent regulation, passed in 1971

Jeffrey Klein and Oliver Koppell
Jeffrey Klein and Oliver Koppell

State Senator Jeffrey Klein, a prominent endorser of Mayor Bill de Blasio — and who is now running for re-election — isn’t wild about the notion of repealing a 1971 law balancing control of New York City’s rent regulation between Gotham and Albany.

Squaring off against former City Council member and challenger Oliver Koppell in a televised debate yesterday, Klein balked at a question about whether he would vote to repeal the Urstadt Law, which passed in 1971. The bill gave the New York state legislature final authority over the city’s rent regulation at a time when the city was on the edge of financial disaster.

Since then, a number of Democrats have called for a repeal of the law, arguing that the city is now on solid financial ground and no longer needs Albany’s oversight.

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“I will weigh every issue as [it comes],” Klein said. “I support rent stabilization, I support everything that protects tenants. I think we need to take a good hard look at the MCI [Major Capital Improvements] law. There’s a lot of things that are out there.”

Mayor de Blasio, who endorsed Klein, has said that he would support a repeal of the law, while his predecessor Michael Bloomberg never supported such a measure. Klein, meanwhile, is close to the real estate industry and has faced criticism from pro-tenants group Tenants PAC for doing too little on behalf of low-income tenants.

“I wrote landmark legislation which protects both tenants and homeowners due to foreclosure,” challenger Koppell said in defense of his record. “Before my legislation, people, tenants and homeowners, were thrown to the street. I made sure banks sat down and took part in a settlement conference to try and keep people in their homes.” [NYO]Julie Strickland