Legal Aid Society


Major Rent Reform Comes to NYC

For years, changes to rent laws and laws governing rent regulations have undergone countless, incremental changes. Piece by piece, city and state lawmakers have sought to address vacancy rates, zoning issues, and the creation and preservation of affordable housing. Over time, these incremental changes and extensions of existing regulations have caused the amount of affordable housing available for New Yorkers to fall in the last ten years. The most recent update to these laws came in 2015. This update extended the rent regulations in place at the time until June 15, 2019, but did little to protect tenants from landlords, who still had the unencumbered opportunity to:

  • Exploit loopholes in the regulations to raise rents on low-income New Yorkers;
  • Purposely allow for building conditions to deteriorate until they could apply for (often unnecessary) capital improvements and pass the cost on to tenants through rent hikes; and
  • Harass tenants to force them out of their apartment and secure vacancy bonuses. Through vacancy bonuses, landlords can raise rents after each new tenant, up to the point that the apartment is no longer rent-regulated and affordable for low-income New Yorkers.

Over the last several years, the de Blasio administration and housing advocates like The Legal Aid Society and its partners in the Housing Justice for All coalition have recognized the need for permanent reforms to the city’s rent regulations. Though progress has been made incrementally, the city’s affordable housing crisis continues, and calls for real, permanent reform have strengthened.