End the Preferential-Rent Scam!

Photo by Nova LuceroThe Republican-IDC control of the state Senate has repeatedly blocked legislation to end the preferential-rent scam, in which landlords charge tenants less than the legal maximum when they first move in, but jack it up when they renew their lease, sometimes by hundreds of dollars. On June 2, 115 people turned out for a town-hall meeting on the issue in the northeast Bronx, sponsored by the Real Rent Reform Coalition and two local groups, Bronx Park East Community Association and the Neighborhood Initiative Development Corp. “I’m here for my niece who works and is studying hard in college, but her landlord just doubled her rent, and now she can’t afford to stay in her apartment,” one man said. Legislation sponsored by Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Keith Wright would make the preferential rent the legal rent for the duration of a renter’s tenancy, as it was before 2003. Participants also urged legislators not to revive the 421-a tax break for housing construction without strengthening the rent laws, and to repeal the 20 percent rent increase allowed for vacant apartments.