Keep Rent Rules, But Ditch Rich - Poll

By MICHAEL FINNEGAN
Daily News Albany Bureau

ALBANY
New Yorkers want to keep state rent regulations in place but feel the laws should be abolished for households that earn more than $100,000 a year, a new poll showed yesterday.

Statewide, 54% of voters favor keeping the laws that limit rent hikes regulations facing a June 15 expiration that state Senate leaders have threatened not to extend.

Another 30% of New Yorkers across the state want to phase out the regulations gradually. But 9% support an immediate end, the Quinnipiac College poll found.

In New York City, where more than 2 million tenants are covered by the laws, 62% favor keeping them, 25% back a gradual phaseout and 10% want to end them immediately, the survey found.

Surprisingly, the survey also showed that 47% of upstaters favor keeping the rent laws, which cover relatively few tenants outside the five boroughs. Another 32% of upstate voters support a phaseout and 9% back an immediate end.

"Even though most of the state isn't affected by legal limits on what landlords can charge, suburbanites and upstaters agree with New York City voters . . . that rent controls should be continued," said Maurice Carroll, director of Quinnipiac's Polling Institute.

State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer), who has threatened to let the rent laws expire, said the poll reflected fear-mongering by tenant advocates.

He cited a recent television report as evidence.

"I saw this black woman, who certainly would have qualified as elderly, basically saying that Bruno ought to be in Alaska because he is trying to put me out of my home," Bruno said.

"Now that's coming from the tenant leaders to mobilize people like her," he said.

But Billy Easton, executive director of Tenants & Neighbors Coalition, said the poll suggested voters feel that lawmakers who oppose rent regulations have been swayed by campaign donations from landlords.

"It shows people can see this issue is about whether New York State's politicians are for sale," Easton charged.

Despite the support for rent laws, the poll also found that New Yorkers want the regulations cut back to cover only less-affluent renters.

Under current law, tenants qualify for rent protection unless their household income tops $250,000 and they rent units for more than $2,000 a month. The poll showed that 51% of New Yorkers support lowering the income limit to $100,000.

The survey of 1,071 registered voters, taken Feb. 24 to March 2, had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Original Story Date: 03/05/97
Original Story Section: Beyond the City