Divided We Stand On Regulation

Daily News Staff Writer

New Yorkers are almost evenly split on whether to scrap the state laws that limit rent hikes for more than 2 million city tenants, a new statewide poll showed yesterday.

In all, 48% of voters favor renewing the laws that are threatened with expiration on June 15, while 44% support abolishing the regulations, the Quinnipiac College poll found.

The results were released as tenants and landlords await a final decision on state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno's threat to let the laws expire in seven weeks.

Bruno (R-Rensselaer) has vowed to make good on the threat unless the Democratic-controlled Assembly agrees to phase the laws out over two to four years.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) is fighting to preserve the laws, which limit rent hikes and evictions for 1.1 million rent-stabilized units in the city and tens of thousands more in the suburbs.

The poll found the strongest support for renewal of the rent laws in New York City, where voters favored an extension by a 57% to 39% margin.

But the survey also showed New Yorkers want to abolish rent protections for households where breadwinners earn more than $100,000 a year in combined income.

By a 56% to 33% margin, voters questioned favored a move to lower the $250,000 maximum annual household income allowed for those who live in rent-regulated units to $100,000.

Tenant advocate Jenny Laurie, executive director of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, said the poll shows "we haven't done a good enough job educating tenants" outside the city.

But Laurie said the results also show that voters recognize that rent regulations benefit more than just "movie stars living in luxury apartments at very low rents."

Landlord advocate Dan Margulies, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, said the poll underestimates voter opposition to the rent rules. "The majority of people don't really understand what the system involves," he said. "When it's explained to them, the majority are invariably against it."

Bruno has cited similar surveys as evidence of fearmongering by tenant advocates.

The poll of 917 registered voters, conducted April 14 to 20, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Original Story Date: 042597
Original Story Section: Beyond the City