The State Assembly passed a bill on Monday that would strengthen rent regulation, while setting up a possible showdown with the Senate and the real estate industry.
State laws that limit the rent that landlords can charge on more than one million apartments in New York City and the suburbs are set to expire on June 15. Democratic legislators from the city and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had sought to extend and expand the laws during budget negotiations last month, until the Senate Republican leader, Dean G. Skelos, rejected the idea, threatening to delay the budget.
The bill in the Democratic-controlled Assembly would extend rent regulations until 2016. It would do away with vacancy decontrol, which lets landlords deregulate apartments when they become vacant and their rent exceeds $2,000. It would alter luxury decontrol, which lets owners deregulate apartments when the tenants’ income exceeds $175,000 and the rent is at least $2,000. Those limits would rise to $300,000 and $3,000. The bill would also limit rent increases for new tenants to 10 percent, down from 20 percent.
“Every year more than 10,000 rent-regulated apartments are lost because of loopholes in the rent laws,” the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, said in a statement.
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A year of negotiations between the Battery Park City Authority and a committee of representatives from the 11 original condominiums in the south neighborhood has yielded a tentative, 30-year agreement to roll back drastic increases in ground rent for apartment owners that would have started next year and continued for decades. The accord, brokered by New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, will save condo owners some $280 million over the next three decades.
“This has been going on for more than a year,” explained Rector Place condo owner Anthony Notaro, who was a member of the negotiating committee representing the 11 buildings. “We went through two different administrations at the Authority,” he added, in a reference to the change in both the 2010 change in both the BPCA’s board chairmanship and its presidency. He noted that the Authority, “always acted in good faith. They bargained fairly, but very hard. So when we finally reached a point where we felt like we couldn’t give any more, we turned to Speaker Silver. He weighed in with the BPCA and in a matter of weeks, we had an agreement.” Mr. Notaro continued that, “the Authority will still get increases in ground rent, so this is not a windfall or a giveaway. Everybody will pay more than they did before, for every year, but the increases will be less steep than they would have been.” He also observed, “the biggest benefit comes in 2027, when we roll back what would have been a catastrophic increase for everybody.”
In a statement, Mr. Silver said, “this agreement will protect Battery Park City residents from staggering increases that would have caused crushing financial burdens during a time of economic difficulty. By restructuring this payment plan, we will be able to keep more middle-class families in their homes and maintain Battery Park City as the world-class community that it is.”
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