Neighbors slammed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call to essentially renew the rent laws as they stand now, saying such a move would translate to more unscrupulous tactics by overzealous landlords who are illegally pushing tenants from their homes to make way for individuals who can pay higher market-rate rents.
“Simply renewing the laws, or just raising the deregulation level by a few hundred dollars, will mean almost certain homelessness for thousands of Ditmas Park families,” Aga Trojniak, of the Flatbush Tenant Coalition, wrote to us today. “We cannot allow this to happen.”
The rent laws are set to expire on Monday, June 15, and Cuomo said yesterday that legislators need to renew them, despite lawmakers not reaching a consensus on changes to the laws, or “pandemonium” would arise, the Daily News reported.
“At a minimum, I believe you need an extension and you need a resolution because otherwise you will have mayhem on Monday when those laws expire and you could have an unscrupulous landlord who starts to evict people or raise rents,” Cuomo told reporters, as reported by the Daily News.
Neighbors, many of whom traveled to Albany to push for stronger rent laws this past Tuesday, are asking others to call the governor today or first thing Monday morning to demand that he better protect tenants — particularly by ending vacancy decontrol, which allows landlords to charge market rent on an apartment once the rent reaches $2,500 a month. This law, Trojniak and other area leaders — including Borough President Eric Adams and Councilman Jumaane Williams — gives incentive to landlords to use illegal tactics, such as pretending to lose tenants’ rent checks or not making needed repairs, to make way for tenants who can pay higher market-rate rents.
“Assemblymembers, including Rodneyse Bichotte, Diana Richardson, and Latrice Walker called out Governor Cuomo as the real estate governor,” the Flatbush Tenant Coalition wrote. “And tenants reminded the Assembly that they are not immune – we will vote them out if they cave in!”
Bichotte, who recently was arrested at a rent protest outside Cuomo’s office, has slammed the governor for his stance on rent regulation and has vowed to fight for stronger laws.
In a recent statement sent to the press, Bichotte said:
New York City is in the worst affordability crisis the city has ever seen. Not only have we lost hundreds of thousands of affordable rent-regulated units, tenants living in rent-regulated units are increasingly unable to afford to pay the rent.
I believe that 2015 has to be the year to stop the loss of affordable housing. This crisis disproportionately affects those who are struggling to pay their rent, many of whom have lived in their neighborhoods for decades. The rent laws will come to an end in June 2015 so this is the time to strengthen the rent laws to preserve much needed affordable housing in low income communities and communities of color. We must act to repeal vacancy deregulation, and close the loopholes that make this precious affordable housing resource unaffordable.
If you’re interested in lending your voice, you can reach Cuomo at 518-474-8390 (press 3), Assembly Members Jim Brennan at 718-940-0641, Rodneyse Bichotte at 718-940-0428, and Nick Perry at 718-385-3336.
If you call, let the Flatbush Tenant Coalition know — you can email Aga Trojniak at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text her at 347-232-5417.