ALBANY — With the city’s rent regulation laws set to expire on Monday and no renewal deal in place, Gov. Cuomo is warning landlords not to take advantage of the situation.
“Landlords of rent stabilized units who try to use a temporary lapse in the rent stabilization laws to break existing leases, to raise rents improperly, to intimidate tenants, or to coerce tenants into leaving their homes, will be subject to the full force of law for any such action,” Cuomo wrote in a letter to be sent Sunday to landlords.
The letter, obtained by the Daily News, states that despite any temporary lapses, the new rent laws once approved will be retroactive to June 15 — so “your legal obligations under existing leases and under the passage of the new rent stabilization program will not expire on that day.”
The governor directed landlords to continue to follow the current law until a new law is enacted and any changes are fully understood. The legislative session is scheduled to end Wednesday and Cuomo has threatened to bring lawmakers back to Albany into special session every day if they adjourn without at least extending the existing law.
In addition, he reminded all landlords in the rent-stabilized system that the terms of all existing leases — even if there is a lapse in the law — will remain in effect until those documents expire.
“This administration intends to use every tool at its disposal to prevent any improper attempts by landlords to break rent-stabilized leases,” he wrote.
Enforcement efforts, Cuomo said, will run through the state Division of Human Rights as well as civil and criminal referrals to the attorney general’s office and could result in “severe” penalties that include rent freezes, fines and damages.DARREN MCGEE/DARREN MCGEE- OFFICE OF THE GOVE
A letter, obtained by the Daily News, states that despite any temporary lapses, the new rent laws once approved will be retroactive to June 15 — so 'your legal obligations under existing leases and under the passage of the new rent stabilization program will not expire on that day.'
Cuomo also directed the state Tenant Protection Unit to create a task force to provide education and outreach to inform tenants of their rights. And the Division of Housing and Community Renewal has set up a toll-free hotline, 1-844-736-8435, that can be used to report illegal conduct by landlords during any lapse in the rent regulation law.
Cuomo in a June 6 guest column in The News said he wants to see the rent law not only renewed but strengthened — something sought by Assembly Democrats. Among the changes he said he'd like to see is the ending of vacancy decontrol, which lets apartments out of rent regulation when the rent goes over $2,500 and a tenant moves out, and scrapping the 20% rent hike landlords are allowed to make every time a tenant leaves.
But with the Senate Republicans balking, Cuomo last week said he expects the current law might simply be extended as is and is trying to tie the issue to passage of an education investment tax credit designed to mainly benefit parochial and private schools and their donors.
Mayor de Blasio on Friday said it would be the “end to New York City as we have known it” if the state fails to renew the rent laws.
Cuomo in his letter agreed, saying it “would create mayhem and chaos for both tenants and landlords and would roil the entire real estate industry.”
To avoid even a temporary lapse, the Assembly on Friday night introduced a bill that would give state leaders more time to negotiate a deal by extending the existing rent laws by two days.
Meanwhile, a group of more than 40 Assembly Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) urging the end of an affordable housing tax credit program for developers that is also set to expire on Monday if the rent laws are not extended and “very substantially strengthened.”
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