Tenants Urge State to Enforce Rent Laws

Demanding stronger enforcement of rent regulations, tenants rallied outside a hearing held by the state’s housing agency in Lower Manhattan Aug. 28. 

The agency, now called New York State Homes and Community Renewal, significantly weakened enforcement in the ‘00s, under Gov. George Pataki. It redefined what increases qualified as illegal, effectively legalizing many overcharges, and eliminated most of the penalties for failing to register the legal rent on apartments, making it much easier for landlords to get away with illegal increases. The 2011 law that renewed rent stabilization directed HCR to establish new rules, but the agency has not yet done so.

“It is now more than one year after the Rent Act of 2011 was passed, and still no substantive changes have been made,” Tenants and Neighbors, the rally’s organizers, said in a statement.

The protesters urged HCR to improve its oversight of major-capital-improvement (MCI) and individual-apartment-improvement (IAI) rent increases; strengthen rent-registration requirements and eliminate the four-year statute of limitations on illegal overcharges; require leases to include information on rent stabilization and tenants’ rights; and reregulate all apartments that were decontrolled while their owners were receiving J-51 tax subsidies.