New Paltz rejects rent control

Mayor, trustees cite limited impact, emphasize approving new units

New Paltz Rejects Rent Control
New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers (Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons, Facebook)

New Paltz had the opportunity to join the list of New York municipalities considering stricter rent measures, but in a victory for landlords, decided to sidestep the issue.

The mayor and trustees of the Hudson Valley village rejected a proposed law to limit “unreasonable” rent increases, Hudson Valley One reported. The measure was seen as a precursor to rent control in the village.

Under state law, municipalities are eligible to enact rent stabilization for select older buildings if a housing emergency is declared, something that can’t be done until a vacancy study is conducted and finds multifamily vacancy below 5 percent. In New Paltz, a study found a 2.7 percent vacancy rate.

But the trustees and mayor decided against declaring a housing emergency. Only about 20 percent of the village’s apartments would become eligible for rent control, as it only applies to buildings constructed before 1974 and with at least six units. When exempting college dormitories from the equation, the volume of eligible units dwindles.

“This is a very blunt instrument that is probably not useful for a community like ours,” Mayor Tim Rogers said of the state’s Emergency Tenant Protection Act.

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The mayor has instead pointed to the delivery of new units in the coming years to improve rental affordability in the village. The town is also exploring the idea of requiring landlords to provide reasons for a rent increase, theorizing that better communication could lead to fewer disputes between tenants and landlords.

Other municipalities throughout New York are exploring rent stabilization and housing emergencies. Last month, Newburgh qualified for rent stabilization after a study determined the vacancy rate in the city to be 3.93 percent. Kingston is also exploring rent stabilization, which is in place for nearly 1 million units in New York City.

Rent stabilization can severely cap rent increases and allow tenants to pass lease-renewal rights to heirs without landlord approval. Critics argue that it limits availability and disincentivizes landlords from investing in their properties. Proponents point towards the promotion of housing stability and affordability.

Holden Walter-Warner

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