Subject: nytenants-digest V1 #7
nytenants-digest Tuesday, May 6 1997 Volume 01 : Number 007
In this issue:
NYC Public Advocate Mark Green to Pataki & D'Amato
1997 RGB Mortgage Survey
Re: Lease renewal rights
rgb increases, or will there be a rgb?
Alan WHO? is becoming Alan WHERE ARE YOU???
Bruno's Rent Control Stance Comes Back to Haunt Him
Date: Tue, 06 May 1997 05:24:16 -0400
From: TenantNet <>
Subject: NYC Public Advocate Mark Green to Pataki & D'Amato
April 23, 1997
Hon. George Pataki
State of New York
Albany, New York 12224
Hon. Alfonse D'Amato
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Governor Pataki and Senator D'Amato:
The 2.4 million residents of New York State's rent-regulated
housing are looking to you to display strong, effective
leadership in the current battle over renewal of New York
State's rent regulation laws by persuading your downstate
Republican Senate colleagues, who on April 7th voted against
a motion to discharge the rent regulation extender bill from
committee, to change their position to favor supporting
extension of the current regulation law.
I know that the tenant constituents of Republican Senators
Dean Skelos, Michael Tully, Nick Spano, Guy Velella, and
Serphin Maltese were very disappointed when their elected
representatives voted against keeping their housing
affordable. Since a yes vote by just three more Senators
would have changed the outcome, your active intervention
could have led to a different result. It still can.
The issue is not just rent control but who controls Joe
Bruno and the Republican Party. Since it's widely known
that you two chose Bruno and run the party, New Yorkers will
and should hold you accountable if your agents destroy rent
Will your party continue to comply with ideological
extremism or take a more moderate path by protecting people
when the free market fails to function properly?
When it comes to choosing between the mainstream and the
extreme, neither of your histories on rent regulation is
reassuring. As State Senator, Governor, you voted against
extending rent regulation. And, Senator D'Amato, you
introduced and led the fight in 1981 for an amendment that
would have denied federal housing construction subsidies to
any locality with rent control that didn't have vacancy
decontrol. Your measure would have immediately denied New
York State thousands of new units of affordable housing if
we didn't go along. Fortunately, it was never enacted. Now,
16 years later, you have a chance to redeem yourself.
The facts in this issue are clearly on the side of
continuing current regulation. Decontrol Would Pressure
Middle-Class Renters to Leave NYC.
My staff has analyzed the 1996 NYC Housing and Vacancy
Survey, which is prepared for the NYC Department of Housing
Preservation and Development. While the median income of
households in rent-stabilized apartments is only $25,300,
those who care about the stability of our neighborhoods
should consider that approximately 294,000 stabilized-
apartments are occupied by tenants with household incomes of
between $25,000 and $49,999 (29% of rent-stabilized
apartments). Another 177,000 rent-stabilized apartments are
occupied by people with a household income of $50,000 to
$100,000 (18% of rent-stabilized apartments).
Most of these solidly middle-class renters are hard-working
people who do not benefit from property tax deductions. And
because they do not own their residences, many of them have
the option of quickly moving out of NYC if their rents rise
to the high levels predicted in the Rent Stabilization
Association's chilling analysis made public last month.
Middle-class families with children who are concerned about
overcrowding in the NYC public schools would be especially
tempted to depart. We cannot afford to lose them.
Many middle-class renters are particularly worried about the
proposal of Senator Serphin Maltese and others to expand so-
called "luxury" decontrol to households with incomes of
$100,000 or greater. Thousands of tenant households --
especially households with two (modest) income-earners --
are approaching this cut-off; all it would take is a good
new job offer or a nice raise and, instead of staying and
continuing to contribute to their NYC neighborhoods, they
would be gone.
Decontrol Would Especially Harm Children and the Elderly
The number of children living in rent-regulated housing is
huge -- approximately 564,000. Some 210,000 of these
children are under the age of six.
So a household in, say, Queens now paying a typical rent of
$1,000 a month would have to come up with nearly $2,400 a
year extra, according to the increases projected in the Rent
Stabilization Association study. If the family has a few
kids, tough choices would have to be made.
Elderly households (65 or older) occupy some 15% of New York
City's rent-stabilized apartments. The total number of
units with elderly households: 152,200. Although the Housing
and Vacancy survey does not contain statistical break-outs
of the incomes of elderly occupants of rent-stabilized
housing, other sources reveal that one-person senior
households spend 47% of their income on rent and two-person
senior households spend 45%.
As for rent-controlled (as opposed to rent-stabilized)
housing, which tends to have the lowest rents and which is
under intense attack for supposed abuses such as allowing
apartments to be "inherited" by grandchildren and even more
distant relations, fully 62% of the remaining 70,500 rent-
controlled apartments are leased by persons who are 65 years
or older and the median age of occupants of rent-controlled
housing is 70. Although the New York City Council and the
Mayor extended rent control to April 2000, Albany
negotiations and agreements over extension of rent-
stabilization in previous years have also included rent
In any event, as occupants age and enter nursing homes or
pass away, the rent-controlled sector is already withering
without government intervention to hasten it; the data shows
that the number of rent-controlled apartments fell 18.2%
between 1991 and 1993 and the new data we have analyzed
shows an even greater decline -- 30% -- from 1993 to 1996.
Indeed, the total number of rent-controlled apartments has
fallen by 75% from its peak of 285,000 in 1981.
Decontrol Would Make Housing Unaffordable for Thousands
The 1996 Housing and Vacancy Survey reveals that a rising
proportion of New Yorkers are facing extremely difficult
choices of whether to pay the rent or buy new clothes and
enough food. The percentage of all renters who pay 40% or
more of their income on rent increased from 33% in 1991 to
36% in 1996. At the upper end, the percentage of renters
paying an extraordinary 80% or more of their income on rent
surged from 12% in 1991 to 16% in 1996.
Looking only at rent-regulated housing, the numbers of
people "on the edge" is even higher -- 37% of rent-
stabilized tenants are paying 40% or more of their income on
housing and 17.4% are paying 80% or more. Tenants solely of
rent-controlled housing are in yet worse shape: a disturbing
41%, or about 26,800 households, are paying 40% or more of
their income for rent and nearly 10,000 households are at
the 80% threshold. So much for the myth of how celebrities
are benefitting from rent-controlled apartments.
Vacancy Decontrol Is De Facto Complete Decontrol
Vacancy decontrol, which on Monday you, Senator D'Amato,
called "a much more moderate position" than allowing the
rent stabilization laws to expire, is not "moderate" at all
because it would lead to the very same result as outright
elimination of all rent regulation: rents would very soon
rise to unaffordable or barely affordable levels for tens of
thousands of tenants.
Vacancy decontrol last passed both houses of the Legislature
on May 26, 1971. It was hailed as a measure that would lead
to a multi-billion dollar housing building program while
continuing to offer tenants protection from skyrocketing
rents. According to the New York Times of May 6, 1971, "The
State's Commissioner of Housing and Community Renewal said
yesterday that Governor Rockefeller's proposal to phase out
rent control would, in 80 per cent of the cases, increase
rents to amounts no higher than those authorized under the
city's current law."
Skip ahead three years to the Report on Housing and Rents of
the Temporary State Commission on Living Costs and the
Economy, chaired by then-Assemblymember Andrew Stein. The
Commission found that the actual rent hikes were much worse
"Vacancy decontrol has resulted in average rent increases in
decontrolled apartments 52% higher than increases recorded
in apartments remaining under rent control in New York City.
In Nassau vacancy decontrol has resulted in average rent
increases of 46%, in Westchester, 45%." In Manhattan, the
Commission heard testimony of rent increases averaging 72%
Increases of such magnitude were the typical experience even
though at the time vacancy decontrol took effect, property
owners were urged by the Community Housing Improvement
Program, a group representing landlords of 250,000 units, to
use "moderation" in raising rents.
The Commission also discovered that vacancy decontrol spread
quickly once the law was changed. At a rate of 10% a year,
some 25% of the regulated sector had been decontrolled in
less than three years -- a total of 413,000 dwelling units
in New York City were removed from rent control or
stabilization. Since there is no reason to believe that
there would be a slower erosion rate if vacancy decontrol
were adopted in 1997, before long vacancy decontrol would
constitute de facto total deregulation, except that it would
take a little longer than the four year phase-out Senator
Bruno recently suggested.
Hundreds of thousands of decontrolled units over the next
few years charging much higher rents could also have an
adverse impact on our economy. Already, many major
corporations cite New York City's high housing costs as one
of the reasons for not locating or expanding here. If
vacancy decontrol becomes the law, the higher rents charged
in the hundreds of thousands of apartments that would become
decontrolled after several years would only enhance the high-
cost image of New York as a place to do business. Among
other effects, it'd become nearly impossible to attract new
management trainees, especially to live in key areas like
Manhattan, when already high rents would go up into the
Vacancy Decontrol in 1971-74 Did Not Lead to More Housing
In return for financial pain to tenants, did vacancy
decontrol from 1971 to 1974 at least cause owners and
developers to build more housing and better maintain
existing units? This, after all, was the industry's
prediction in 1971 and property owners and developers are
making the same prediction today.
The New York Times of May 7, 1971 reported: "A group that
represents 500 major builders and owners of buildings in the
metropolitan area said yesterday that it would "embark on a
multi-billion dollar housing program" in New York City, if
Governor Rockefeller's housing proposals [vacancy decontrol]
are passed by the Legislature." In a Times essay on May 23,
1971, Charles Urstadt, New York State Commissioner of
Housing and Community Renewal, wrote: "...Vacancy decontrol,
in combination with the proposal to exempt all future
construction from controls, will encourage conventional
builders to quadruple the production rate of privately
And when vacancy decontrol passed a few days later, the
press reported that elated landlord and real estate groups
issued statements, such as one calling it "the first ray of
hope for the housing industry in many years" and predicting
that it would "spur wholesale new investment in new
construction by private builders."
It never happened. The Stein Commission concluded: "Vacancy
decontrol has neither stimulated new building construction,
stopped abandonment, spurred renovation nor has it brought
substantial new money into the City's housing stock. It has
led to tenant insecurity over tenure and harassment." In
fact, the Commission's analysis concluded, "City-wide the
monthly average of dollar amount investment decreased during
every month since vacancy decontrol. Without adjusting for
inflation, the percentage of investment in 1971 (after
vacancy decontrol), 1972 and 1973 dropped from the 1969
levels to 80.46%, 80.1% and 92.9%, respectively. Adjusting
for inflation, investment dropped to 70.06%, 66.57% and
68.16%, respectively, during the same period. This
represents a 30% decrease in major renovations since vacancy
Analysis also showed that "every borough in New York City
suffered a reduction in the number of building permits
issued, Manhattan showing the greatest decline of 45%... The
total decrease is 40.09%." The Commission also was unable
to find any evidence that vacancy decontrol had encouraged
production of new housing or that it led to a reduction in
abandonment; "actually, the percentage of uncollected taxes
has risen," the Commission concluded.
Decontrol Could Lead to More Housing Deterioration
Decontrol, whether instituted over four years or a little
more gradually through vacancy decontrol, will make it much
more difficult for tenants to press for building
improvements. One often-overlooked effect of an apartment
losing regulated status is that the tenant is no longer
legally entitled to renewal leases. So tenants who complain
to the landlord or to the authorities about persistent lack
of heat and hot water, falling plaster or broken front doors
may find themselves without renewal leases. Forget about
withholding the rent to force the landlord to make repairs.
Rent strikes will be a thing of the past.
But as any lawyer who represents tenants can tell you, it
has often been only tenant pressure that has forced owners
to improve their properties -- to install the long-delayed
replacement boiler, to replace the leaky roof. And
harassment and the fear of harassment would discourage
tenants from speaking up and getting improvements.
Again, the 1971-1974 experience is instructive. The Stein
Commission heard harrowing testimony from decontrolled
tenants who had experienced overt and subtle harassment.
"Many tenant leaders have complained to the Commission that
they were singled out by their landlords for exorbitant rent
increases or for the refusal to renew a lease because that
person became involved in the tenant organization. Other
tenants have called and spoken with the Commission but
refused to testify, citing fear of landlord reprisals." And,
"Tenants still living in controlled units reported
groundless lawsuits and reductions in essential services."
These were the Commission's findings, even though the 1971
vacancy decontrol law provided for stiff penalties for
landlords whose tenants prove they were forced to leave
their apartments due to harassment.
The other arguments frequently heard against extending the
Emergency Tenant Protection Act are also readily dispatched:
if rent regulation has indeed been a major cause of housing
abandonment, as its opponents claim, then what caused the
wholesale abandonment and deterioration that afflicted
cities like St. Louis, Detroit, Chicago, and Cleveland,
where rents have not been regulated? Why does abandonment
and deterioration seem to occur only in lower-income
neighborhoods? Is it because tenants are barely able to pay
regulated rents and a big problem most landlords confront is
inability to collect the full rent roll?
As for the argument that so many property owners are having
a difficult time making ends meet and have deferred capital
improvements because they don't have enough money: major
capital improvement increases are approved by the State
Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) all the
time and they continue to be collected even after the
improvement has been paid for. And landlords always have
the option of filing a petition with DHCR for a hardship
rent increase. Of course, given the generous increases
consistently approved by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board,
there should be no need for hardship increases by owners who
have competently managed their properties.
Ultimately, the solution to New York's continuing housing
emergency is to expand supply by building tens of thousands
of new affordable units. But contrary to another popular
myth, rent-regulation is not the reason why so little new
housing has recently been constructed. Since rent
regulation does not cover non-subsidized housing erected
since 1974, it logically can't be blamed for discouraging or
preventing new units from being built. New York's extremely
high construction costs are the real culprit. Especially
within New York City, everything involved in building
housing costs more, from land to concrete.
So I urge you and your colleagues to help end the housing
shortage by coming up with new ways to greatly expand the
number of units of housing being constructed. One
possibility worth considering would be new measures to help
reduce the high cost of residential construction. The
Legislature should also help spur creation of new sources of
funding for affordable housing, perhaps through increased
guaranteed investments by public pension plans in affordable
When the supply of housing increases sufficiently, market
forces will finally come into play, and the need for rent
regulation will disappear. But until that day, your
obligation is to protect the millions of your constituents
who are depending on rent regulation to keep an affordable
roof over their heads. Instead of your silence or ambiguity
on this great issue, would you pick up the phone and call
cc: Senator Joe Bruno
Date: Tue, 06 May 1997 05:32:24 -0400
From: TenantNet <>
Subject: 1997 RGB Mortgage Survey
On March 19, 1997, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB)
released its 1997 Mortgage Survey. The complete report is
available on TenantNet at http://tenant.net.
The principal findings of the Survey were:
o The average interest rate for new multifamily mortgages in New York
City is 8.8%, virtually unchanged from last year's figure of 8.6%, the
lowest level in two decades.
o Other financing terms for new mortgages, such as points (1.34), terms
and types are also little changed from last year.
o Refinancing costs are considerably lower than new originations with
interest rates and service fees averaging 8.4% and 1.15, respectively.
o Low interest rates for refinanced loans are spurring refinancing
activity. Many lenders report increases of 75% or more over last year's
o Loan volumes are soaring due to mounting loan applications and notable
increases in lender approvals.
o The average loan-to-value ratio increased to 71.5% in 1997. This is the
third consecutive year the average LTV ratio has increased,indicating a
trend toward loosening mortgage requirements.
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 12:29:19 -0400
From: John Loeber
Subject: Re: Lease renewal rights
Hi, I'm new to the tenant.net but thought I'd float a personal question:
My (one-year) lease is due for renewal in July ... LL wants to remodel
apartments in building to get under the 12 unit level ... wants me to rent a
larger (remodel) for more money -- or move. Maybe I'll do it and sub-let
half the place or maybe I like the way things are now. But I don't want to
Is the right of lease renewal automatic? Or something? Do I have any choice
or is it all up to the LL?
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 1997 19:26:59 +0000
From: anita culp
Subject: rgb increases, or will there be a rgb?
I heard that the Rent Guidelines Board is holding a public meeting this week.
Will they give (or have they given) some indication as to what the increases
will be for next year?
If the rent regulations are allowed to sunset June 15, what will be the
immediate effect on tenants in regulated apartments? Will we, once our
current leases expire, lose the right to renew? Will the landlords be able
to charge us what they want on our renewal leases? Will there be a class
action suit filed (against the legislature? Bruno? the RSA?) Will we all
have to move to Jersey? Will the rents there increase accordingly?
If the Great and Benevolent Bruno decides to "phase out" rent regulation (via
vacancy decontrol or whatever), do we have a chance to "phase" it back in?
I think Bruno, Pataki, Giuliani, and most of all, D'Amato are playing a big
game with us. If D'Amato leashes Bruno and gets him to accept vacancy
decontrol or some other "phase out" method I think it's only to make Pataki
& Giuliani look like our saviors in order to get our votes. Our only
savior is Mario Cuomo. Can he be convinced to challenge D'Amato?
Date: Thu, 28 Apr 1997 20:14:59 +0000
Subject: Alan WHO? is becoming Alan WHERE ARE YOU???
NYC Comptroler Alan Hevesi won name recognition and his current
seat as Comptroller with an extremely effective "Alan Who"
campaign, but it appears his desire to run for Mayor in four
years is tempering his support for tenants.
ALAN WHERE ARE YOU?????
Here a short item from the April 25th issue of Crains.
Hevesi sees rent law changes
City Comptroller Alan Hevesi thinks the Legislature will extend
state rent laws this spring, but broaden provisions for luxury
decontrol. "Senator (Joseph) Bruno has dug in his heels and is so
visible that I don't think he can simply back off and fold and
allow an extension of rent regulations as they are," Mr. Hevesi
told a New York Law School breakfast last week. Currently, apartments
are decontrolled if tenants make above $250,000 and pay more than
$2,000 a month in rent. Mr. Hevesi, who spent 22 years in the
Assembly prior to his election as comptroller, suggested that the
income thresh hold may be lowered to $180,000 or $200,000 and
that rent limits may drop to $1,800. He also said the rent laws may
only be extended for two or three years "so we can fight this fight
again shortly -- that's the way the game is played."
Date: Tue, 06 May 1997 05:46:59 -0400
From: TenantNet <>
Subject: Bruno's Rent Control Stance Comes Back to Haunt Him
Chelsea Clinton News April 24-30, 1997
Opinion: Bruno's Rent Control Stance Comes Back to Haunt Him
by Alan S. Chartock
Well, thanks to the monster rent control issue, state Senate Majority
Leader Joe Bruno really got his tail in a wringer this time.
He no doubt thought thathe had Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver checkmated
over the single biggest issue to hit Albany in this session of the
legislature. Unfortunately for Bruno, the issue grew legs and a mouth and
took a big chunk out of his hindquarters. What's more, it has the
potential of taking an even bigger chunk out of his Republican majority.
It is no secret that Bruno has a very special friend in the legendary
Lester "The Lion" Shulklapper, by far the most productive and interesting
of the Albany lobbyists. Lester represents New York City landlords and he
and his friends give a lot of money to Bruno and his Republican conference.
In Albany, as John R. Arbuckle used to say in a coffee commercial, "You get
what you pay for." At the very least, Bruno must have thought, "I'll have
Shelly over a real barrel. By the time I'm done with him, he'll have to
give me anything I want."
And what does he want? Bruno was going to demand that people who made a
certain amount of
money--let's say $150,000 a year--would have their apartments decontrolled.
That would make millions, maybe billions, for the landlords.
The problem for Senator Joe is that he forgot the word "saliency." That's
because he comes from Rensselaer, NY, where they don't know from rent
control. What Bruno forgot is that, in New York City, rent control is the
single biggest issue--in fact, some say, the only issue--that people really
In other words, as the political scientists say, rent control is "salient."
Because this issue is so important to people like my friends Amy and
Walter, college professors living in a rent-controlled apartment on the
West Side of Manhattan, they are not going to forget anyone who pushes them
out of their apartments. Trust me, they don't care all that much about
politics--particularly about Albany politics--but this they care about.
So it follows that the big problem for the Republicans is that Republican
Mayor Rudolph Guliani wants to keep his job. If he doesn't fight for rent
control, he's in trouble. His Honor has been up in Albany supporting the
continuation of rent control and he's not alone.
There are six Republican state senators from in and around the city. (The
Republicans only have a five-vote majority in the Senate.) Two of the
Republican senators, Roy Goodman and Frank Padavan, have already announced
in no uncertain terms that they are in favor of rent control and will vote
against Bruno on this issue.
Bruno is a man who likes his senators to do what he tells them to. What's
more, if Al D'Amato wants to be U.S. Senator again, he can't be without
Democratic votes. So even Al is making pro-rent control noises. His
subordinate, Gov. George Pataki, who is theoretically in favor of ending
rent control, is also running next year and he is making conciliatory
noises on the issue.
The word has been leaking from those around Bruno that he's willing to make
a deal, but there sits Shelly Silver, like a Cheshire cat, with a big grin
on his face. His House has already voted to extend rent controls and if
they expire on June 15, everyone knows that it will be decimating for the
Republicans. So Joe Bruno wants to make peace on his term, in his time. His
governor is telling him to make peace. His Republican Mayor of New York
City is telling him to make peace, but the protagonist, Shelly, is really
socking it to him, letting him swing in the wind. On June 14th, Joe Bruno
needs to decide whether to give Shelly the whole cake and renew rent
controls as they are today or let them go under.
In the meantime, he'll pass his own rent control bill phasing rent control
out after only two more years. By then all the Republican bigwigs will have
run for office and they won't have to worry anymore. Shelly doesn't want to
let that happen. The Speaker has got Bruno where it hurts and everyone is
scratching their heads and asking how it happened.
My bet is that Joe Bruno will be scratching his magnificent white mane
until he draws blood. Now, we sit back and watch the poker game and see who
blinks first. My bet is that it will be Joe Bruno.
Alan S. Chartock is the Executive Publisher of The Legislative Gazette,
the weekly newspaper of the NY State government.
End of nytenants-digest V1 #7
Subject: nytenants-digest V1 #8
nytenants-digest Thursday, May 8 1997 Volume 01 : Number 008
In this issue:
Housing '97: New Data & Perspectives
Vacancy decontrol and succession rights.
Getting the Word Out On the Street
What's left of the Rent Laws anyway?
Citizens for Open Access to Legislation Update
Date: Thu, 08 May 1997 06:14:49 -0400
From: TenantNet <>
Subject: Housing '97: New Data & Perspectives
Date: Tue, 6 May 1997 14:31:23 -0400 (EDT)
LAST CHANCE TO SIGN UP FOR "HOUSING '97: NEW DATA & PERSPECTIVES"
On May 14 the New York City Rent Guidelines Board and the New York
University School of Law's Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy
of will hold an all day housing conference at New York University.
The conference will feature:
o A new paper by Professor Edgar Olsen on the probable impact of
vacancy decontrol on rents
o A Keynote address by Comptroller Alan Hevesi
o A new paper by Professor Peter Dreier on the impact of ending
rent regulation in Massachusetts
o An extensive presentation on the 1996 New York City Housing and
o Recent research by the Rent Guidelines Board
The cost of the conference is $25 and covers the luncheon and
A complete agenda for the conference can be found at the following web site
To sign up for the conference, email the Rent Guidelines Board
(firstname.lastname@example.org) and provide the following information:
For more information or to register by phone, call 212-374-9070.
We will invoice you for the $25 fee. Registration ends Monday,
May 12. No registrations will be accepted after that date or at
the conference location. Registering for the conference indicates
you agree to pay the $25 registration fee even if you do not
attend the conference.
Date: Tue, 6 May 1997 23:45:10 -0400 (EDT)
From: Dennis Lieberson
Subject: Vacancy decontrol and succession rights.
In the current debate on limiting New York State rent controls, the
option of Vacancy Decontrol has been proposed by some officials as a
compromise to Senator Bruno's original proposal for total elimination.
How would the current succession rights for family members be addressed
in Vacancy Decontrol?
Currently, if a family member (and there is extensive clarification of
what constitutes a traditional and non-traditional family member) resides
with a tenant for two years (or one if the tenant is over 62) or since
the beginning of the relationship, the family member is entitled to
succession when the apartment is vacated by the tenant. How do the new
proposals affect this?
P.S. If possible, respond directly to email@example.com , as I am only
subscribed to the digest mailing list. Thanks.
Date: Fri, 25 Apr 1997 06:26:48 +0000
From: Robert Widmann
Subject: Getting the Word Out On the Street
GETTING THE WORD OUT ON THE STREET
Friends of mine and I have concluded that after writing letters, attending
demonstrations and signing up for the bus excursion to Albany on May 20,
there is more that we can do, time permitting, to reach out to other tenants
to inform, and to activate them to help save the rent laws.
We started at level one- handing out leaflets on streetcorners.
Level two - we found that we were more effective if we talked. Nothing
fancy - just something like "Help save the rent laws, folks. Rent laws
ending June 15. We need you to help save them".
Level three - two people handing out leaflets and talking.
Level four - two people handing out leaflets plus a table with petitions to
politicians. Talking to passersby includes an appeal to "sign a petition to
a politician - help save the rent laws..."
Level five - all of the above but with a separate list plainly and boldly
titled I CAN HELP with place for name and phone number. Everyone signing
is asked to help out if you can. "We need help at the tables and at
demonstrations" and "Join us - we're a nice bunch of people and we need
help to get the word out to our neighbors." In this way we can set up other
So far, we have set up 3 tables in the the Village and have othere actively
leafleting and are planning to add more. You can get leaflets from Met
(212)963-0553. You might even be able to set up a neighborhood tenants group.
If you collect donations, you can use these to help with scholarships for
the trip to Albany and to pay for printing and sign making materials.
If the politicians see an ever growing number of tenants in the streets
active and campaigning it's going to scare the living hell out of a lot of
For more information, leave a message for me at (212) 726-1385
Robert Widmann ROBWID@WORLDNET.ATT.COM
Date: Fri, 2 May 1997 18:11:36 -0400 (edt)
Subject: What's left of the Rent Laws anyway?
I don't share your optimistic outlook on the rent protections staying in
effect. I am convinced that the landlords know this is gonna be it for
them for some time and are pulling out all the stops and calling in all
the favors, and puting up the cash.
Yes there will APPEAR to be a compramise that will leave some figureing
that better then nothing but in fact much more hacking and there will be
nothing left, just look around at what is as compared to what was just a
few years ago. Its a slow and protracted beating vs. a one shot deal.
it all translates to misery no matter how you slice and dice it.
I gotta figure that albany has really gone beyound reason and it is a
clear indication of how far from reality and how close to the money they
can collectivly get.
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 1997 21:18:11 -0400
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Reginald Neale)
Subject: Citizens for Open Access to Legislation Update
COAL Update --
Independent, non-partisan views on information access in New York State.
My apologies for the flawed arithmetic in the last update. This year's
missed budget deadline is the thirteenth in a row, not the fourteenth.
Sorry; I was a year early.
* WHAT'S IMPORTANT....
New Yorkers might have more respect for their Legislature (Motto: Ignoring
budget deadlines since 1984) if members didn't seem to bounce between
concocting boneheaded laws, arranging record numbers of fund-raisers, and
going on vacation. No, wait, Joe Bruno says this is NOT a "vacation," it's
a "recess." We love ya, big guy. Don't ever change.
The ink was hardly dry on last month's headlines about cloning when both
chambers rushed to pass bills "protecting" us from this new peril. The
legislation creates a brand new state crime, a Class "D" felony -- the
crime of cloning a human being. As if there was some lack of real,
immediate problems confronting our state, many of them in areas where
lawmakers might even be within hailing distance of a clue. Unfortunately,
those would be problems with a nasty tendency for requiring substantive
discussion, commitment, and compromise. Problems less likely to generate
name recognition and press coverage. (more info:
http://assembly.state.ny.us/ALIS/billsearch.html, search for Cloning Bills
# A5383, S2877)
* DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH....
Last year, in what it trumpeted as a big advance in open government, the
Legislature finally made an attempt to eliminate some of the more bizarre
petition requirements imposed on candidates for office. Those rules
specified such things as the precise shade of color for the covers of
petitions, the use and position of staples vs. paper clips, and the exact
form in which our signatures must appear on a petition to indicate support.
Historically, both major parties have found these rules a wonderfully
effective tool for removing challengers from the ballot.
We very nearly didn't get this yet-to-be implemented reform. It was part of
July 1996's last-minute compromise, in which another reform issue --
computerization of campaign finance information -- was sacrificed (see next
You might wonder why anyone would object to having more candidates on the
ballot. Isn't the ability to incorporate a diversity of views one of the
cornerstones of democracy? Wouldn't we all stand to benefit if there were
more real choices? Who would oppose such a quintessentially democratic
improvement? Well, to start with, the special interests who contribute most
of the funding in legislative races. Anything that would diminish the
near-perfect predictability of those contests is met with intense
opposition from the people who are writing big checks to try to get better
access to state government than you and I have.
But pressure from good-government groups like Common Cause, New York Public
Interest Research Group, and League of Women Voters, along with input from
people like us, put the spotlight on these issues. Legislative leaders
suddenly realized they could be easy targets if they didn't yield on
something, and they chose ballot access as a concession having the least
immediate impact on business-as-usual in Albany.
Here's what's happened so far: Last summer's new law directed the Board of
Elections to issue revised rules to make ballot access easier. Initially,
the Board postponed action until December 1996. Then the deadline was
extended to April 1, 1997. Now the revised rules have finally become
available. That doesn't mean it's easier to get on the ballot yet. First
there is a 45-day period for public comment. Then the Board's Directors
vote on the revised rules. Then the Justice Department must rule that they
There is a curious requirement in the revised rules, for the candidate's
signature to appear on the covers of EACH folder along with the other
identifying info. Though the clear intent of the new law was to make
petition requirements LESS restrictive, the unexpected inclusion of this
provision -- which was not in the old regulations -- could set the stage
for a whole new category of challenges.
Loopholes, inaction and court challenges benefit both major parties. And no
matter how well intentioned the Board is, no matter how clear their mandate
to insure free, competitive primary and general elections, they are under
intense political pressure to drag their feet. We may not see any real
changes to the incumbent-protecting, challenger-destroying ballot access
rules until both parties and their well-heeled backers get to safely field
a few more sure winners. (more info: http://www.elections. state.ny.us)
* WE DON'T EVEN NEED TO DISCUSS IT....
It was the State Senate's turn to refuse to allow debate on a high-profile,
controversial issue. When those upstart Democrats (don't they know they're
the *Minority*, for God's sake?) brought a motion to discharge the Rent
Control bill, it was defeated on a near party-line vote. As with a similar
procedural maneuver in the Democratically-controlled Assembly last year
concerning abortion, leaders insisted that member's recorded votes were NOT
to be interpreted as votes on the issue. Which is exactly the point --
debate about the issues is just what the leadership consistently uses the
rules to prevent. Republicans and Democrats are equally guilty; in both
houses the majority allows only their own bills to come to the floor to be
rubber-stamped. For all their public squabbling, they are totally united in
their dedication to top-down authoritarian control. They make some
comically self-serving attempts to justify this in the name of efficiency.
But one notices that this efficiency seems to operate best with legislation
concerning cloning, hat recycling, feces-throwing, or interim money bills
to make sure legislators get paid. When we get to the big-ticket items,
like coming to an agreement on the State Budget, the real-world priority of
"efficiency" is shamefully obvious. Development of legislation in an open
forum --including budget legislation -- could hardly be less efficient than
thirteen years of missed deadlines. Of course, real democracy would mean
that leaders wouldn't always get to call the shots. . . .
* AND THE SENATE STRIKES AGAIN....
Assemblywoman Galef's A2415 Bill to computerize campaign finance
information passed the Assembly for the second time in as many sessions.
But no sooner was there was a Senate companion bill for this vital reform
than it was trashed. Senate Bill 3855, sponsored by Suzi Oppenheimer (D -
Rye) failed a motion to discharge. That means that Senate Republicans
refused -- on a roll-call, party-line vote -- to bring it out of committee
for debate. Unless we can all get together and bring some pressure to bear,
this reform will be dead for yet another session. Kaput. Cream of Nowhere
soup. This continues a long-standing pattern: multiple electronic access
bills in each of the last several sessions, in both houses; bills with
plenty of bipartisan sponsorship and support, have been squelched by
leaders. In this latest installment, the Senate Leadership once again
demonstrates its disdain for the idea of allowing New York State voters to
have access to clear, timely information about who might be buying which
candidates and for how much. (more info:
http://assembly.state.ny.us/ALIS/billsearch.html, search for S3855, A2415)
* ACTION ITEM....
Call your Senator. Tell him you need his help to keep S3855 from dying.
This is legislation that has already passed the Assembly for the second
year in a row; if we can get it through the Senate, the Governor will have
to sign it -- or go on record as being against open government.
Reginald Neale, Secretary
C.O.A.L. (Citizens for Open Access to Legislation)
End of nytenants-digest V1 #8
Subject: nytenants-digest V1 #9
nytenants-digest Thursday, May 15 1997 Volume 01 : Number 009
In this issue:
OpEd on the current debate
"Compromise" on Rent Stabilization
Performing artists get involved
Governor's Staff Breaking Law?
Date: Mon, 12 May 1997 07:47:54 -0400
From: Michael Gresty
Subject: OpEd on the current debate
A contribution to the debate. Sent to the NY Times, whose reporting has
been scandalously biased. Circulate as you think fit.
Wanted: a Vision for Affordable Housing
Michael Gresty, May 9, 1997
The public debate that has developed since Republican Senate majority
leader Joe Bruno announced last November his intention to ensure the demise
of the half-century old state rent control and rent stabilization laws when
they expire on June 15 has been so shrill as to render inaudible the few
voices calling attention to the underlying issue - the question of
affordable housing. To be sure, many of the points of view in the debate
have referred in some way or other to this issue, but none has attempted to
address it in all its complexity. There are so many factors affecting
housing that serious thinking about solving the problem of the shortage
does not produce good sound bites or good press, and above all, does not
promise quick answers.
Most of the arguments against the existing laws, or advocating their
modification, seriously ignore significant issues that have a bearing on
the housing question, and many - some even well-intentioned - resort to
specious logic to argue their points. For instance, there is the claim
that sunsetting the laws will enable landlords to collect so-called
"reasonable" (read: market-rate) rents, and thus increase their revenues.
Some of the landlords say they will then be able to invest in renovating
apartments and building new ones. This is disingenuous, since the present
skewed rental market means that they should actually benefit from the
current situation were they to build new apartments, not be disadvantaged
by it. Moreover, there is little preventing them from borrowing funds to
build - with or without subsidies - and some of them do. Thus the
expiration of rent-control and rent-stabilization laws alone will not
induce them to increase the supply of housing.
A few of the other arguments for decontrol made by the landlords and their
allies invite greater scrutiny. Since landlords must mostly be making a
profit on their investments now, and must have made their investments
knowing full well what the parameters governing the rent-regulated market
were when they did so, what reasonable justification can be made for the
windfall they would receive if rents went up on average "only" 15%, let
alone the more probable 50%, as they claim they would? And what argument
for decontrol can be made by landlords of unregulated apartments, whose
rents would fall to the new market median - supposedly, by their own
estimates, somewhere between the current higher, unregulated averages and
the current lower, regulated averages? Strangely, a lobby of landlords of
unregulated apartments trying to protect their investments, which by this
argument would be seriously threatened by deregulation, is voiceless in the
Vacancy decontrol is often advocated as a "reasonable" compromise in the
dispute over the present laws. However, it was attempted in New York in
1971-74 and not only caused considerable social upheaval, but also failed
to achieve any of the supposed benefits - new and improved housing, urban
renewal, decline in abandonment and lower rents. In fact, decontrol
further aggravated the housing crisis in every way.
Finally, the assertion that rent regulation is the cause of the housing
shortage is baseless. History shows that the rent laws exist because of
housing shortages, and not the other way around. They have always been
enacted in response to a housing crisis, and when properly formulated,
their calming effect has usually induced slow but sustained development,
which is good for landlords and for tenants.
Now, the present rent regulation system is manifestly unfair. It is unfair
because some tenants rights are protected in a way that othersí are not.
This must be remedied - by extending protection to all tenants. Rent
regulation is intended to serve a specific purpose: to induce a measure of
stability into markets that are essentially volatile. In this respect New
York is not comparable to just any city that has an unregulated market. It
is only comparable to another metropolis - Paris, Tokyo or London, for
example. Such cities are subject over time to severe extremes of pressure
on their real estate markets, unlike smaller cities and towns. In order to
maintain a degree of social stability, their rental markets must be
regulated in some way. Regulation protects tenants from violent increases
in rent that would force them to move or relocate when they have no wish to
do so. Fair regulation should not be burdensome to administer and should
ensure that while tenants are protected from dramatic increases, rents are
adjusted to keep pace with annual inflation rates. Rent regulation of this
kind is in force in some form or another in many major cities around the
world such as Paris and London.
Discussions of rental housing are often confined to debates about the
economics of development, management and rents. Economics may be a
legitimate criterion for discussing housing, but it by no means accounts
for all the issues. Housing is not merely a question of economics, housing
is primarily about people and their lives and it lies at the core of social
issues, along with freedom of speech and the rule of law.
Landlordsí concerns regarding housing are primarily entrepreneurial - they
are generally investing to get a return, assessing and taking risks with
their capital. They are rewarded, or not, for their wisdom in their
decisions. Tenants, on the other hand, are not making investments. They
do not own their apartments, they make improvements to them for their own
use, and their rental payments only contribute to fulfilling their lease
conditions - they do not bring a return. By the standards of the
home-ownership market, renters are fools. They cannot even deduct some of
their rent from their income taxes, like mortgage payments. But the rental
market exists for tenants at every social level for all kinds of reasons -
the need for a degree of mobility, temporary situations, lack of capital,
lack of ability or inclination to purchase, desire or need to live in a
community that they are unable to buy into, and, more often than not, a
shortage of affordable decent housing to purchase. What this means is that
tenants are not necessarily transitional - and that many remain renters for
decades or generations, forming complex and rich communities.
Rent regulation means stability, not stagnation. Stable communities are
able to engage in all kinds of activities social and economic that
contribute to development. Strictly financial analyses distort the housing
question by neglecting issues of community and culture. Social values and
economic values must both be taken into account in addressing the problem
underlying the current conflict - the need to formulate a good housing
Affordable housing for purchase and rental is urgently required in New York
City. This is the key issue - and if the debate could shift to this,
something good might come out of the landlordsí lobbying and attack on the
rent laws. The terms of the current debate - a calculated threat from the
landlordsí allies in the senate and an equally hard-line response from the
tenantsí associations - are a poor framework for the necessary discussion
about housing, and are clearly forestalling it. It would be irresponsible
to allow the current laws to expire without proposing a comprehensive
long-term strategy for creating affordable housing - for purchase or rental
- - in New York, and without replacing them with permanent, better rent
regulations which do not expire and which indefinitely set the rules for
developing, managing and renting. The representatives in the senate,
legislature and positions of leadership in state and local government,
landlords, developers and tenantsí associations owe it to the people of
this State to propose a coherent, effective and sustainable policy for
housing and to calm the hysteria currently infecting discussions. Until
such a policy for the production of housing and the protection of tenants
can be devised, the present system of rent regulation must be maintained.
Date: Tue, 13 May 1997 23:05:24 -0400
From: Larry Racies
Subject: "Compromise" on Rent Stabilization
It's almost impossible to read or hear any of the media coverage of the
rent control subject that doesn't include the word "compromise."
All of these appeals to reason fail to point out that a compromise of
any sort would result in losses of some sort to tenants of the protections
afforded them by the stabilization law. In fact, the use of the term
compromise, when applied to the rent stabilization subject is not unlike
using the modifier "slightly" when applied to the adjective "pregnant."
Even speaker Sheldon Silver, a self-proclaimed savior of stabilization,
has apparently become reconciled to removal of the protections enacted
in 1993--for he has not come out publically for stabilization as it
existed up to that time.
Clearly the case in Albany is not going to be decided on the perceived
merits or the perceived demerits of stabilization legislation. It will
be decided on purely political grounds.
If tenants are going to have any impact at all on the outcome, given the
massive amounts of landlord money being used against them, they are
going to make the point over and over to public officials of every rank
and party that if you are not part of the solution--you surely are part
of the problem (including those who profess to be on our side) and that
whatever you do...WE WON'T FORGET!
That goes for Wacky Pataki and Rudy Kazootie, too.
Date: Wed, 7 May 1997 17:46:06 -0400 (EDT)
From: Mark Green
Thank you also for your comments about making city government even more
accessible. We wholeheartedly agree.
In fact, we are holding a meeting of the charter-mandated Commission on
Public Information and Communication on Friday, May 16th, 1997, 10 AM to 1
PM, Public Hearing Room, City Hall. You may remember that this was one of
the new charter innovations, as was IBO.
Please feel free to come and testify about what you would like to see in
terms of accessible information.
You are certainly free to circulate this information when you next send-out
a tenant alert. I attached an announcement.
New York City Commission on Public Information and Communication
Friday, May 16, 1997
10 AM - 1 PM
Public Hearing Room
City Hall, NYC
Date: Thu, 08 May 1997 20:34:15 -0400
Subject: Performing artists get involved
Thanks for the email updates. I wanted to share with you that
I attended the screen Actors Guild meeting last night and the
rent regulations were brought up & spoken about very strongly
including sign up sheets and name lists to send. The NY
president read a very good letter to the Governor about artists
etc. Just wanted to share that with you.
Again, thanks for the email postings.
Date: Thu, 15 May 1997 08:48:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Landlord Problem
During my first few months of occupancy, I attempted to pay the full rent
on my apartment with a check. The landlord didn't cash them. In the
meantime he made a verbal deal with my boyfriend (never talked to me, the
feeble woman) that we would pay 2/3 by check, 1/3 in cash. He NEVER
collected any of the cash. Once there was a meeting set up for us to pay
him, and he didn't show. In the end, we DIDN'T save up all that money
for him. NOW, TWO YEARS LATER, he's calling. We haven't seen him in all
this time. He wants the money. Does he have a right to it? Just as we
have a responsibility to pay our rent, doesn't the landlord have the
responsibility to collect it? Is all the cash he wants beyond the last
three months STALE RENT?
As far as I'm concerned, I tried to pay him the full amount with those
first checks and he refused them, and instead accepted the 2/3 amount for
all this time.
By the way, our original lease was for six months -- April through
September, 1995. He never approached us to renew. Is this a factor to
I'm thinking a dispossess order will be forthcoming. I need to know
what to do.
Date: Thu, 8 May 1997 11:14:59 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Governor's Staff Breaking Law?
FASCISTS GET AROUND THE LAW
A few days ago, after finding the flyer about jamming the phone lines of
prominentr anti-rent-regulation Republican State legislators, I figured "Why
just limit this action to a few days in April". So, early in May I decided to
make a few calls. When I first called the Executive Chambers of the Gov., I
made my comments and told the phone reception lady my sentiments about
Pataki's stance on rents. Then I hung up. I then went on to make about five
more calls, but hung up at the end of each. I foolishly assumed that there
may have been dozens--at least--of other people still carrying on the Phone
Jam Campaign. After the last call, I got a call back immediately, but I let
my answering machine pick up. The caller said, "This is NY State Trooper
so-and-so, and I'm calling about phone calls from this number to the
Executive Chambers. Would you please call back this number?" Now, of course I
did not call back--from my number. THE POINT IS, I have a Star69 block on my
phone. This was installaed by the phone company, and no one has the right to
override it. However, I was informed that the police have the right to
override it, WHEN AND IF A SERIOUS CRIME MAY BE INVOLVED, when and if it can
be shown that serious harassment has occurred. But--Come On!--let's get
serious here! Five lousy hang ups? This is a clear indicator that the
Governor has established himself ABOVE the law. He has abused his right to
override Star69. The telephone company hacks that allow this are his fascist
lackies. WHERE IS THE LAW? OKAY--maybe my actions are pushing the limit of
what might be called legal, but for the Governor to be able to do this tells
us all that wire taps are not far behind. How would you like to be the target
of illegal Pataki wiretaps, just because you get a little rambunctious over
your right to protest?! After the call from the trooper, I have been hearing
over my phone line the clear indicator of someone listening in. One time,
there was even a radio playing in the background, but then the fat-assed,
donut-eating Red Squad--or whatever they call it these days--never were too
End of nytenants-digest V1 #9