More than two dozen changes to rent-stabilization, recently signed into law by Governor Cuomo, will make the system friendlier to tenants. The Wall Street Journal reports that one of the biggest changes will now let tenants in regulated buildings challenge rent increases made years earlier. Current laws impose a four-year limitation on checking rent history, but now regulators will be able to look back "more than four years to determine whether there was 'a fraudulent scheme' to destabilize the apartment." Tenants can also go directly to the state to request rent reductions because of service complaints, whereas before they were required to first inform the landlord.
Additionally, the state will start keeping better tabs on whether or not a building has any housing violations, and they will reject a landlord's request to increase rent if any violations exist. Previously, they would only look up violations if someone filed a complaint. Landlords will also be required to make "extensive new disclosures" when they increase rents, so there will be more oversight from the state. A New York housing lawyer called the changes "major" and "anti-landlord" (rule changes proposed by landlords were rejected), and many landlords say the new rules put extra burdens on them. Tenant groups, obviously, were thrilled. A Legal Aid worker said this was simply a balancing of scales: "For at least 25 years there have been regulations that overwhelmingly favor the landlords." It will be interesting to see how these changes factor into the annual meeting of the circus, i.e. the Rent Guidelines Board, when they vote on how much rents can go up.
· State Boosts Tenant Rights [WSJ]
· All Rent-Stabilization coverage [Curbed]