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Housing advocates push for rent-stabilization protections

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“We have an affordability crisis that is plaguing us”

Flickr/Kelly Schott

Housing advocates, along with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, are pushing for amendments to current laws that allow city landlords to precipitously raise rents of rent-stabilized apartments.

Under the current law, landlords of rent-stabilized apartments can raise rents up to 20 percent when a tenant vacates a rent-stabilized apartment. Those rent increases contribute to some apartments becoming deregulated through what’s known as High-Rent Vacancy Deregulation, another loophole the legal aid groups and council speaker are looking to put an end to.

As of now, a rent-stabilized apartment can be deregulated when a unit with legal regulated rent of $2,700 or more becomes vacant. (It can also become deregulated when a unit with legal regulated rent of $2,700 or more is occupied by tenant whose income has exceeded $200,000 in each of previous two calendar years, but that’s a different story.)

The housing advocates are also hoping to quash large increases in rent after tenants have been charged a preferential rent, or a rent charged to a rent-stabilized tenant that is lower than the legal rent. In her breakdown of rent-controlled units versus rent-stabilized units, Emily Nonko explains the trouble with preferential rent:

While this sounds like a good idea in theory, in practice, it can lead to trouble for tenants. As a recent ProPublica report puts it, “Increases in preferential rents aren’t subject to city-set limits governing other rent-stabilized apartments. Landlords can revoke the preferential rates, and hike rents to the legal maximum, whenever leases come up for renewal. That can mean spikes of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.”

On Thursday, the City Council voted to declare that a housing emergency still exists in New York City. The decree is the first step in renewing rent regulations, the Daily News notes.

“We know that renewal is not enough,” Johnson said. “We have an affordability crisis that is plaguing us.”