NYC
06/15/2011 02:34 pm ET | Updated Aug 15, 2011

NYC Rent Laws Set To Expire; Cuomo Gives 'Pass It Or Don't Go Home' Ultimatum

New York City rent laws are set to expire at midnight tonight as Democrats in Albany push to strengthen rent regulations and Republicans seek to simply renew them.

From The New York Times:

Democrats in the Legislature, along with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the tenant advocates, are pushing to extend and strengthen the regulations in an effort to slow the pace at which rent-stabilized apartments are converted into market-rate homes. But Republicans, who hold a slim majority in the State Senate, have shown no interest in bolstering rent regulations, which landlords and developers often criticize as being unfair to property owners.

In the busy final week of the legislative session, the two sides appear locked in a stalemate pending action on other issues like the property tax cap and a marriage equality bill.

The New York Post reports that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has threatened to sink Gov. Cuomo's tax-cap plan if Senate Republicans refuse to expand the rent regulations. Silver warned that Senate Majority Leader, Republican Dean Skelos ,"clearly jeopardized" the 2 percent tax-cap deal by advancing legislation Monday night that would merely continue current tenant protections on one million affordable housing units in New York City.

Landlords and building owners have indicated to legislators they'd be willing to go along with a modest expansion of select rent regulations if they gain on other issues like a tax break for development of new apartments, a tax cap for owners of large rental apartments, and legislation to reverse a court decision that lowered rents on some apartment buildings, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Tenant-advocate groups are placing last-minute pressure on legislators. On Monday, Senator Bill Perkins was arrested after leading 200 demonstrators to sit in front of Governor Cuomo's office, demanding stronger rent regulations. And tonight, Gothamist reports there will be a rally for "real rent reform" starting at 5 p.m. outside Governor Cuomo's Manhattan office at 633 Third Avenue.

Governor Cuomo gave legislators an ultimatum today, The Capitol reports, that unless the Legislature passes a bill extending and expanding the state’s current rent regulation law, no one will be going home--setting up an extraordinary session this Monday.

Reactions in Albany are mixed as to whether letting the laws expire would have any immediate effect, according to The Gotham Gazette. Democrats would like more time to create a better bill and Republicans feel that the longer the bill's being negotiated the likelier it is they'll get a simple extension of current laws.

"We have been here before; people forget that the laws expired in 1997," tenant advocate Micahael McKee told the Gazette. "They lapsed for five days and the sky did not fall; they passed it retroactively."

But Sen. Gustavo Rivera, who says he has about 72,000 units of rent controlled housing in his district, warned "This is about millions of New Yorkers losing their homes, this is not something to be played with. This could have an impact of a crisis level on the state."