Barring the Door On Rents
Bruno stands pat on deregulation

Daily News Albany Bureau

A powerful upstate Republican yesterday defied mounting pressure aimed at forcing him to drop threats to end state laws that restrict rent hikes for more than 2 million tenants.

Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer) repeated his refusal to renew the protections, set to expire June 15. He stood firm despite study results disclosed by the Daily News that predicted deregulation would sock tenants with sky-high rent hikes.

"If people can't afford to live at an address that's fashionable, then they ought to move and not live there just because it's fashionable and they like the address," Bruno said.

"And then they ought to vacate the place for someone that can afford that fashionable address. There are people all over the state who would like to live in neighborhoods that they can't afford to live in."

But fellow Republicans, including Mayor Giuliani and state senators from New York City, vowed to use the study to build pressure for a compromise.

"It certainly gives substance to the arguments we've been making with Sen. Bruno," said State Sen. Roy Goodman (R-Manhattan), who backs renewal of the laws. "I think it's something which he will want to pay closest attention to."

The study by the Rent Stabilization Association, a group of 25,000 landlords, forecast whopping rent hikes in many city neighborhoods within five years of deregulation.

On Manhattan's upper West Side, tenants in rent-stabilized units would suffer average rent hikes of 51% within five years after deregulation, the study predicted. In Jamaica, Queens, the average rent would jump nearly 20%, the study projected.

"There's no question that if the worst-case scenario occurred, and rent regulation were just done away with on the morning of June 15, you would have a chaotic situation for a lot of people," said Giuliani, who plans to step up his lobbying for renewal of the laws.

State Sen. Guy Velella (R-Bronx), who also supports renewal, said he would use the conclusions to tell Bruno: "Look at what the landlords say is going to happen."

Bruno, however, insisted that sharp rent hikes would be a "rare exception" after deregulation. He also pointed to study predictions that deregulation would generate more than $5 billion in economic activity and create more than 60,000 jobs.

Original Story Date: 040597
Original Story Section: City Central