By DAWN WOTAPKA And JACOB GERSHMAN
New York’s rent-stabilized tenants could breathe easier for another eight years under a new package of rent legislation proposed on Wednesday by Governor David A. Paterson.
Mr. Paterson submitted to lawmakers a plan to amend and extend the state’s rent laws, which are set to expire next June. In addition to extending regulations another eight years, the bills would make it more difficult for landlords to charge higher market-rate rents, lifting the destabilization rent threshold to $3,000 a month from $2,000.
The governor also attempted to resolve the legal confusion in the wake of a court ruling last year that rolled back rents at a major New York City apartment complex.
During these difficult times it is essential that we do all we can to preserve rent regulation while restoring certainty to the rent regulation system and making it more transparent, manageable and equitable, said Mr. Paterson, who isn’t seeking re-election, in a statement.
It’s not clear if lawmakers will take up the legislation this year. Should it languish, the negotiations will fall to the next governor.
While lawmakers have expressed interest in revising the rent laws, passage of a bill could be tricky, given the shaky hold that Democrats have over the state Senate.
Democrats, however, may look to strike a deal now, rather than wait until after this year’s elections that could shift the balance of power to the Republicans
We’re going to fight over the $3,000 number, said Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, a trade group.
Manhattan would be the only place rent would be high enough to pull apartments from the program.
Mr. Paterson also addresses the uncertainly surrounding last year’s Court of Appeals ruling that the owners of Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town illegally charged market-rate rents on some apartments.
The decision, which affects an estimated 40,000 units citywide, didn’t address for what time frame tenants could demand refunds, nor did it tackle damages. The Governor aims to set a four-year limitation period. Owners making the refund offer in good faith wouldn’t have to pay damages or interest.
Rent-regulated are units most common in New York City, where they’re coveted by anyone looking to avoid paying some of the nation’s priciest rents. About half of the city’s 2 million apartments fall under rent stabilization, according the New York City Rent Guidelines Board.