Pols Will Fight Rent Rules to Finis

Daily News, June 9, 1997
With just a week to go before rent regulations expire, the city's Democratic leadership came out swinging yesterday to save the laws.

In a show of solidarity, Democrats from all levels of government gathered in midtown and called on Republicans to save the regulations. They also blasted Gov. Pataki's vacancy decontrol proposal.

Republicans shot back, saying the Democrats had refused to compromise on the explosive issue.

Regulations that limit rent increases for more than 2 million tenants are set to run out next Sunday, and State Sen. Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer) has threatened to let them lapse if they are not overhauled.

Pataki has proposed ending rent regulation when all eligible family members have moved out of an apartment or died.

Advocates of controls say this will give landlords an incentive to drive tenants out.

"It's the middle class of the city, hardworking people, who are going to be thrown out of their apartments," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) charged.

"It's a moral issue and that's why our great cardinal has spoken out on it," said Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem), referring to Cardinal O'Connor's call for extension of the laws while a commission studies the issue.

The Democrats called on Pataki and Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato to pressure Bruno to extend the legal limits on apartment rents in the city and nearby suburbs.

"The rent-regulation system works reasonably well for tenants and landlords alike," said Public Advocate Mark Green.

Bruno hit back, charging Silver has failed to "come to the negotiating table to work out a compromise agreement to protect tenants in rent-regulated apartments."

"The governor and I have made proposals that would maintain rent protections for the overwhelming majority of tenants and punish building owners who attempt to harass tenants," Bruno said.

Silver said he would meet with the Republican legislative leadership today in Albany. When asked if he had anything new to offer, he replied, "I've put a plan on the table already. We have a viable plan."