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Higher Threshold Urged for Rent Destabilization

by CARA BUCKLEYThe New York Times
May 26th, 2010

Gov. David A. Paterson today released a package of proposed changes to New York rent laws today, including a measure that would make it harder for landlords to remove apartments from rent stabilization.

Under current rules, landlords of a rent-stabilized apartment can begin charging market rates once the apartment becomes vacant and the monthly rent hits $2,000. Citing “a chaotic housing market,” the governor is suggesting that the cap be raised to $3,000 a month. This would mean that landlords of rent-stabilized apartments going for $3,000 or less could increase rents only by incremental amounts set annually by the city’s Rent Guidelines Board, often around 3 percent a year.

“The $2,000 figure was established in 1993 and has never been adjusted in the intervening 17 years,” a press release detailing the proposals said. “This amount” — the $3,000 — “represents an adjustment of the original threshold to reflect the change in the cost of living.”

The changes also included proposals that would affect an estimated 40,000 tenants whose rents could fall as a result of the State Court of Appeals decision regarding Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Last fall, the court found that the two housing complexes, on Manhattan’s East Side, had improperly charged market rates on some apartments while receiving tax breaks for making renovations. The governor’s proposal would establish a procedure by which tenants of apartments affected by the ruling could apply for rent decreases. If landlords consented to the lower rents, they would not have to pay additional penalties, as is currently the case when a landlord is found to have overcharged a rent-regulated tenant.

The governor’s proposals are subject to approval by the State Legislature.

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