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Assembly Fires Shots at Landlords as Rent Control Battle Heats Up

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It's one of Albany's most tightly choreographed ballets: Every year the Democrat-dominated Assembly passes a package of pro-tenant legislation, only to have the bill shot down by the Republican-controlled Senate. But this year, with New York City rent control laws set to expire this summer and Gov. Cuomo seeking a compromise that will please all sides, the dance is playing to a sold-out crowd. So what type of show did the Assembly put on? A doozy! According to the Times, the fresh bill seeks to limit rent increases for new tenants in rent-regulated apartments to 10% (instead of 20%) and do away with vacancy decontrol, meaning a rent-stabilized apartment would not become deregulated when it becomes vacant and the rent exceeds $2,000 per month. But wait, there's more! A landlord can also deregulate an apartment when the rent passes $2,000 and the tenants' income exceeds $175,000. The Assembly wants that changed to $3,000 and $300,000. That sound you hear? The moans of a million landlords at once.

Of course, the bill has no chance of passing the Senate and making it across Cuomo's desk, but it does serve as a message that the Assemblymen mean business, and a simple extension of the current rent laws?which is widely expected?might not be enough. A Cuomo aide tells the Times that pro-landlord and developer proposals that the governor is considering include an extension of tax breaks for new development (such as the real estate boom's beloved 421-a) and basically the undoing of the landmark Stuyvesant Town ruling, which said landlords could not deregulate apartments while also getting tax incentives for the property. The clock is ticking.
· Showdown Looms After Assembly Votes to Extend Rent Regulation [NYT]