Renters Split on Whether Albany's Failure to Extend Protections Presents Real Threat

Nearly a quarter of all New Yorkers potentially are impacted by the failure of Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators to renew the state's rent control law. Some are furious, while others are taking it all in stride. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed this report.

Two million New Yorkers woke up Tuesday without the protections of a rent control law that's kept their apartments more affordable.

"Definitely it's an uncertainty," one person said.

For some, that created anxiety, and anger that state lawmakers and Governor Cuomo allowed the nearly 75-year-old law to expire.  

"I think it's a travesty," one person said.

"I think it's really sad," another said.

"I think they need to get it together," said a third.

Many other renters reacted with a shrug. They heard the advisories that landlords must honor existing leases and that it would take  months for anyone to face significantly higher rents or lose their apartments. The legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo are expected to get it together long before then.

"I'm not worried because they seem to be saying the landlords dare not take advantage," one renter said.

Elected officials reinforced that message, with e-mail blasts to constituents, like this "Dear Neighbor" e-mail from Manhattan state Senator Adriano Espaillat.

"Tenants under a current lease will retain their protections even if the laws expire," he wrote. "A landlord has no legal right to move you out..."

Even the trade association for building owners has been warning members to pretend the law is in place because it's expected that politicians will renew it retroactively.

Rallies by some City Council members and tenant rights advocates at City Hall and at the governor's Manhattan office focused blame on Albany.

The city says 300 people called the 311 hotline from midnight to 1 p.m. about rent control. three times the normal number, but hardly a groundswell.

In Washington Heights, where 90 percent of apartments are rent stabilized, many residents say all they can do is watch and wait.

"It always seems like a slow process and I hope they can get it finished as quickly as they can," one man said.

Protests will likely continue until lawmakers actually renew the law they claim they intend to, putting rent protections back on the books.  

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