Hudson Valley’s Newburgh opts for rent stabilization

Landlords push back, vow to appeal housing survey

Hudson Valley’s Newburgh Opts for Rent Stabilization
A photo illustration of Mayor of Newburgh Torrance Harvey (Getty, City of Newburgh)

Rent stabilization is gaining a foothold in the Hudson Valley.

On Monday night, Newburgh became the second municipality north of New York City to opt into rent stabilization, the Times Union reported. Following in the footsteps of Kingston, Newburgh officials made their move a month after the city gained eligibility.

State law allows rent stabilization at select older buildings if a housing emergency is declared, which is what all Newburgh council members did Monday night.

To be eligible, a survey of the applicable properties in a municipality must find a vacancy rate of 5 percent or below. The study in Newburgh, which involved surveying property owners and looking at water usage at 68 properties, found a 3.93 percent vacancy rate. Of the 738 units accounted for in the study, 622 were occupied, 24 were unavailable and 63 were vacant because of construction.

Newburgh tenants cheered when the vote was announced on Monday night. A 2021 housing study found 60 percent of renters in the city were overburdened, meaning more than 30 percent of their gross income went toward rent.

Landlords are likely to fight Newburgh’s action. The leader of one Newburgh landlord group vowed ahead of Monday’s decision to challenge Newburgh’s study, according to City and State. (In Kingston, landlords are appealing a ruling that confirmed the housing survey which allowed rent stabilization.)

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Proponents of rent stabilization argue that it boosts housing stability and affordability. 

Opponents claim it makes it harder to find housing and deters landlords from investing in their properties. In New York’s rent stabilization, a local board caps rent hikes annually, and tenants who don’t violate their leases are entitled to renewals and can transfer leases to heirs. 

Lisa DeRosa, president of the region’s Building and Realty Institute, called the decision “disheartening”. 

“The solution to fix our ongoing housing crisis is not by regulating more buildings,” DeRosa told The Real Deal in an email. She said the solutions are rather in removing the “barriers that prevent the creation of more housing and to provide the investments that some of our aging apartment stock will need.”

Meanwhile, some local officials are promising more tenant protections. In a statement, Councilman-at-Large Anthony Grice expressed support for good cause legislation and short-term rental regulations.

The next step for Newburgh, unless stopped by a lawsuit, is to appoint a nine-person Rent Guidelines Board, subject to approval by the state’s Division of Homes and Community Renewal. The city has one month to make those recommendations.

Holden Walter-Warner

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