RGB Reform Rally

Tenants and elected officials rallied April 16 outside City Hall to urge the state Legislature to pass a bill that would require City Council confirmation of Rent Guidelines Board members, who are now chosen solely by the mayor. 

The measure, sponsored by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan), would also qualify people to serve on the board if they have experience in public service, social services, social sciences, or urban planning. Currently, board members must come from the fields of finance, economics or housing.

The bill is one of a package of eight pro-tenant bills approved by the Assembly Housing Committee in April. The others would:

  • give rent-controlled tenants the same increases as rent-stabilized tenants; 
  • prohibit landlords from raising a “preferential rent” to the legal maximum for tenants renewing their leases
  • end major-capital-improvement surcharges once the cost of the improvement has been paid off;
  • lower the standard vacancy increase from 20 percent to 10 percent;
  • put Mitchell-Lama buildings constructed after 1974 into rent stabilization if they leave the program, and ban increases for “unique or peculiar circumstances.” 
  • extend eviction and rent protection to tenants living in former 
  • federal project-based Section 8 buildings; and
  • limit landlords’ ability to claim a rent-regulated apartment for personal use. 

Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a statement that he expects the Assembly to pass the package later this session. The bills would obviously face much tougher odds in the Republican-controlled state Senate.