Pataki: Kiss our current rent laws goodbye

State Editor

ALBANY -- Gov. Pataki bluntly told city tenants yesterday "it's plain" that existing rent protections will end in June and that the best they can hope for is a compromise.

Pataki also blasted City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, a potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate next year, for playing "games" after urging him to "get into the act" on rent-control regulations.

Pataki's main focus during an afternoon press conference was on what he depicted as the inevitable end of the city's current rent-control system.

"I think it's plain that the Senate is not going to simply renew the existing rent-control law, but they are prepared to negotiate to protect existing tenants," said Pataki, a Republican.

"I think it's plain that the Assembly, at this point, refuses to make any changes in the rent-control law. So I think they both have to give and we're going to work to try and find common ground."

Pataki has endorsed lifting rent protections from vacant apartments and phasing out at least some other protections. But he had refused to take a stand on the issue, insisting he is trying to bring both sides together.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer) has vowed to end rent regulations for all but the poor, the elderly, and the handicapped when the law authorizing the system expires June 15.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) has repeatedly demanded that the current system of rent protections covering over one million apartments be continued.

Top political insiders here expect the rent-control battle to go down to the wire and not be resolved until the final hours just before or just after the law expires.

Vallone issued a statement to reporters at the Capitol saying that "Sen. Bruno and, by his lack of action, the governor, are playing games with the homes and emotions of New Yorkers.

"Let's cut out the games. They're not fair to either landlords or tenants."

Pataki, asked about Vallone's statement, shot back, "I agree, let's cut out the games.

"It's obvious that this is a political statement from someone who has indicated he may be a candidate," Pataki said.

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