Late Tuesday night, both houses of the New York state legislature submitted an omnibus rent bill that greatly increases the rights of tenants over property owners.
That clears the way for the bill to be approved Friday in both the state Senate and Assembly.
"For far too long, landlords had the advantage. I think we righted those advantages. I think when tenants see — particularly on the adjustment that we did on the MCI [Major Capital Improvements] rates — that they'll see a decrease in their rent," Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. "I think they will be very, very pleased with what the legislature has done."
The bill rolls back more than 25 years of policies that have been slowly eroding New York City's stock of regulated affordable housing.
The legislation eliminates Vacancy Decontrol, whereby regulated apartments convert to market-rate after a certain rent threshold is reached through increases.
The bill limits how much landlords can pass onto tenants for Major Capital Improvements, also known as MCIs, to 2 percent.
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And, finally, it will extend tenant protections statewide to avoid evictions, provisions that have previously existed only in the city and other downstate counties.
"There are two parts to dealing with the affordability crisis in New York: one is preserving affordable stock, and we went a long way toward doing that with this package towards doing that and preserving rent-regulated units and keeping those apartments affordable," said State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris of Queens. "The other is to build truly affordable housing, additional stock."
Left out of the negotiations entirely was Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was asked whether or not it troubled him that the legislature moved forward on rent without his input.
"No, I'm not irritated," he said at an unrelated news conference.
Cuomo added that he plans to sign the bill after it passes both houses later this week.
"My point all along has been I want the best tenant protections we have ever passed for the state of New York," the governor said. "I believe these are the best tenant protections they will pass. And I will sign it."
It's very unusual to see Cuomo on the sidelines when a major piece of legislation comes together in Albany. This is the first year of an all-Democratic state legislature in Albany, and that means the dynamic has shifted and Cuomo will have to use a new playbook.