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A group of real estate groups and individual property owners filed a lawsuit Monday, challenging newly passed laws that strengthen rent and tenant protections in New York City. Last month, Democratic officials in Albany passed a landmark package of bills that close loopholes that have allowed landlords to increase rents and deregulate stabilized apartments. The lawsuit, filed by the Rent Stabilization Association (RSA), the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), and seven individual property owners, claims that the laws, as well as the entire rent regulation system, violate the 14th and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as reported by The Real Deal.
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In front of a packed auditorium at Cooper Union’s Great Hall last night, the Rent Guidelines Board voted on rent hikes for the city’s one million rent-stabilized apartments, the New York Times reports. The board voted 5-4 and approved a 1.5% increase on one-year leases and 2.5% on two-year leases. The new rents will kick in on October 1.
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Real estate industry leaders say they will file a lawsuit against the state to challenge a package of bills containing changes to current rent regulations, which expire on June 15, the Observer reports. As 6sqft previously reported, the legislative package headed to both chambers for a vote this week contains landmark changes to current rent regulations aimed at strengthening New York’s rent laws and tenant protections. Industry stakeholders say they’ll challenge the legislation on several points including one that makes the rules permanent, rather than having them expire every few years. The lawsuit would also challenge the retroactive nature of a provision to lower the amount landlords can charge for major capital improvements.
The industry fears ‘disaster’
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Democratic leaders in Albany announced Tuesday that an agreement has been reached on a package of bills that will significantly strengthen New York’s rent laws and tenant protections. As the New York Times reports, contained in the legislative package headed to both chambers for a vote this week are landmark changes to current rent regulations, which expire on June 15. The new legislation is meant to address concerns about the high cost of housing and the sweeping inequality that has resulted from it. To that end, as the Times explains, “the changes would abolish rules that let building owners deregulate apartments, close a series of loopholes that permit them to raise rents and allow some tenant protections to expand statewide.” These changes have long been opposed by the real estate industry, which lost some of its influence in Albany when its Republican allies became outnumbered in the State Senate in the November elections.
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, Wed, September 26, 2018
Update 9/27/18: City Comptroller Scott Stringer said the report released this week about the decrease in affordable housing contained a major miscalculation, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Instead of the 1 million affordable apartments lost, as the report stated, the true number is less than half of that, or 425,492 units. According to an updated report, the number of apartments renting for $2,700/month increased by 111,000 units between 2005 and 2017, instead of 238,000 units as originally stated. “While it remains true that affordable housing is declining at an unsettling rate and the gap is still growing, we overstated the pace,” Ilana Maier, a spokesperson for Stringer, said in a statement. “We made a genuine mistake.”
Since 2005, New York City has lost over 1 million affordable apartments, according to a report released by the City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Tuesday. The report, “The Gap is Still Growing,” builds from an original 2014 analysis from the comptroller’s office and shows the number of available units has failed to keep up with the city’s booming population. Between 2005 and 2016, about 576,000 people moved to NYC. But the city added just over 76,000 new units of rental housing.
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Rep. Joeseph Crowley announced federal legislation this week that aims to create two refundable tax credits for low- and middle-income renters. For rental households across the U.S. with incomes of $125,000 or less, the Rent Relief Act would provide them with one of two tax credits, if the bill becomes law. According to the Democratic congressman, who represents part of the Bronx and Queens in New York’s 14th congressional district, roughly 111 million Americans live in rental housing, with about two-thirds of all households in New York City currently renting, twice the national average.
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Tenants leasing a rent-regulated apartment, buildings built before 1974 with six or more units, will soon see their rents rise for the first time in years. New York City’s Rent Guidelines Board voted to increase rent for regulated apartments on Tuesday, allowing an increase of 1.25 percent for one-year leases and 2 percent on two-year leases, set to begin Oct. 1. As the New York Times reported, the board, which had voted two years in a row to freeze rents, found that a 6.2 percent increase in operating costs for landlords in 2016 warranted this year’s increase.
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Following two years of rent freezes, the city’s Rent Guidelines Board will take a final vote on Tuesday to determine whether or not rents will be increased by at least one percent. Earlier this year in April, the board voted to increase rents by one to three percent for one-year leases and four percent for two-year leases in a preliminary vote. According to the Wall Street Journal, the board released a study that showed landlord costs rose in the past year, a shift that landlords say warrants an increase in rents on new leases that take effect on or after Oct. 1.
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Scoring a rent-stabilized apartment is a big win in New York City, as these regulated pads usually offer rent at below-market rates and provide tenants more protections against landlords. While more than 925,000 rent-stabilized apartments still exist in the city, these units turn over at a faster rate in certain neighborhoods than others, and their availability continues to dwindle (h/t WYNC). According to a new report by the city’s Independent Budget Office (IBO), the neighborhoods of Astoria, Morningside Heights and Bay Ridge all have high concentrations of rent-regulated housing built prior to 1974 and therefore, higher rates of turnover compared to other parts of the city.
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View the map from ProPublica in its interactive form here >>
Last year close to 22,000 tenants across the city were evicted from their homes, an issue that the folks at ProPublica trace to a 1994 City Council vote on “vacancy decontrol,” which allowed landlords to evade rent regulation and charge market rate for vacated apartments that cost $2,000 or more a month (it’s now $2,500). Not only did this incentive rent hikes, but it’s led to a major blow to the city’s rent stabilized inventory. To show the correlation between evictions and rent regulation, ProPublica has created this interactive map of the more than 450,000 eviction cases filed between January 2013 and June 2015. It shows the number of evictions in a given building (it’s shocking how many have had more than 50 in less than three years) and whether or not that building is rent stabilized.
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