Deal on NYC tenant protections will be signed, governor says

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he will sign a deal negotiated by legislative leaders that would strengthen rent stabilization rules covering more than a million tenants in and around New York City.

The proposal, which lawmakers plan to pass Friday, would permanently extend the current rules governing rent increases for rent-stabilized units. It would also restrict the ability of landlords to remove units from the system and permit cities throughout the state to opt into rent stabilization rules if they choose.

"This is the best bill they can pass, so I will sign it," the Democratic governor told reporters Wednesday.

The landmark proposal, hailed as historic by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, represents a significant shift toward tenants' rights in a state Capitol where New York City's powerful real estate industry has long held significant sway.

"The tables have finally turned in favor of millions of tenants across New York state," said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan. "For far too long, big real estate pulled the strings in Albany."

Landlords oppose the changes, but their concerns are unlikely to derail the measure.

"This legislation fails to address the city's housing crisis and will lead to disinvestment in the city's private-sector rental stock," the real estate-backed group Taxpayers for an Affordable New York said in a statement.

The organization warned that apartment buildings will fall into disrepair if the state doesn't allow owners to raise rents to recoup the cost of improvements.

The state's rent stabilization and rent control system governs rental increases and evictions in about 1 million units in New York City and some suburbs, typically in older, multi-unit buildings.

The rent law is set to expire Saturday. Renewing and strengthening the rules is a key priority for many liberal groups that helped Democrats take over control of the Senate in last year's elections.

"None of these historic new tenant protections would be possible without the fact that New York finally has a united Democratic Legislature," Heastie and Stewart-Cousins said in a statement announcing their proposal.

One of the most significant provisions in the proposal would allow elected officials in cities and towns to opt into the rent stabilization system if their communities have a tight housing market with few rental vacancies.

Another would eliminate the ability of landlords to remove a unit from rent stabilization if the tenant's income is $200,000 or higher.