Date: Mon, 09 Jun 1997 09:55:17 -0400
Subject: Fair Rents or Forced Subsidies?

Do Rent Regulations Produce Fair Rents
or Forced Subsidies?

by Timothy L. Collins

Until about ten years ago it was widely understood that
the purpose of New York's rent regulation system was to
eliminate the ability of landlords to charge excessive
rents during an ongoing housing shortage. Since the
late 1980's a growing number of elected officials,
editorial writers and policy analysts have quietly
discarded the traditional "fair rent" objective of the
system. Many now accept and echo the more conservative
notion that tenants who reside in rent regulated
apartments are the beneficiaries of subsidies which are
unfairly paid for by their landlords. This subtle
transformation has overwhelmed and distorted the more
important debate about whether New York's rent
regulations have secured reasonable rents for tenants,
provided fair returns for owners and offered sufficient
incentives to preserve and improve the housing stock.

The idea that rent regulations were designed to secure
"fair" rents is clearly evident from the history of New
York's responses to housing shortages and affordability
problems. Those problems are not new. Jacob Riis
documented dangerous and overcrowded housing conditions
in the late nineteenth century. In the worst slums of
New York's lower wards, rents were from 25 to 30
percent higher than in the better uptown apartments.
New immigrants crowded into subdivided and overpriced
cold water flats at great peril to their health and
safety - and at great profit to unregulated landlords.
Open markets failed to address the problems described
by Riis, and by the turn of the century and again
following World War I the City witnessed mass evictions
and growing tenant unrest. With waves of new immigrants
fueling the demand for apartments and driving rents
ever higher, the City finally instituted rent controls
in 1920.  An unprecedented housing construction boom
produced by a tide of national prosperity in the 1920's
allowed for a relatively painless phase out of those
controls in 1929.

Apartments were plentiful during the Great Depression
of the 1930's but widespread unemployment caused severe
affordability problems to resurface. Many families
doubled up to pool incomes and expenses. Evictions for
non-payment of rent multiplied and the City witnessed
some of the most severe rent strikes in the nation's

Why were rent controls overlooked as a policy option
during the 1930's? In the absence of a housing shortage
rents could not be described as abnormally high. While
public authorities had long recognized a right to
control volatile and abnormal prices and rents,
instituting price or rent controls solely to provide
assistance to unemployed, elderly or impoverished
citizens was never a part of our national experience.
Rather, rents, like railroad rates, grain elevator
fees, cab fares, electric and water rates, hotel rates,
milk prices and wages had been subjected to regulation
when special conditions were perceived to foster unfair
bargaining relations.

When the Federal Office of Price Administration
implemented rent controls as part of a larger effort to
curb war time profiteering during World War II, the
Roosevelt administration was understandably interested
in protecting all consumers and tenants - rich and poor
alike - from those who would exploit war time
shortages. Concern also existed for the displacement of
families and the hardships experienced by those on
fixed incomes. But the main objective of federal rent
controls was to eliminate unfair market advantages
bestowed upon landlords by the decline of new housing
starts during the war effort - not to subsidize the
poor. Similarly, in the late 1960's when new zoning
rules and rising construction costs stalled the
production of new apartments and caused rents to
skyrocket in uncontrolled post-war buildings, rent
stabilization was adopted to counter the new found
market power of landlords who owned those buildings.

Today, high labor costs, a demanding building code,
strict zoning rules and a shortage of usable building
sites, still place the price of newly constructed
housing beyond the reach of most City residents. These
constraints on supply are matched by strong demand
pressures. A fresh waves of new immigrants and historic
changes in the family structure - with a rise in the
number of one person households and single parent
families demanding more units - has turned the
temporary housing shortage into a long term problem.

The need for stable housing markets is particularly
compelling when one considers the probable consequences
of allowing landlords to fully exploit the ongoing
shortage: the displacement of families rooted in
neighborhoods, schools, civic and religious
organizations, and the gradual balkanization of the
city into homogeneous class enclaves. While rent
regulation cannot guarantee an affordable home for
everyone, it has limited the kind of disruption that
the shortage would otherwise inflict.

The rise of the trendy idea that rent regulations force
owners to subsidize tenants can be traced to a 1988
study sponsored by the Rent Stabilization Association -
the city's largest owners group. That study - A
Financial Analysis of Rent Regulation in New York City
by Peat Marwick Main & Co. - and a more expansive
report produced by the Citizens Budget Commission in
1991 suggested that tenants residing in New York's
upscale neighborhoods reap disproportionate benefits or
"subsidies" from rent regulation. Both studies
apparently influenced Albany lawmakers who, in 1993,
adopted a means test for a narrow slice of rent
regulated tenants who earn over $250,000 per year and
reside in apartments renting for more than $2,000 per
month. Following the law's enactment, John Gilbert,
then head of the Rent Stabilization Association, was
quoted as saying "[t]he biggest victory here is that
people have finally acknowledged that rent regulation
is a subsidy." Daniel Margulies, the influential head
of another large landlord's group, the Community Home
Improvement Program, was equally explicit: "they have
applied a means test and exposed the system for what it
is, a subsidy system."

This engineering of a conversion of rent regulations
from a fair rent system to a subsidy system in the
public consciousness parallels similar public relations
efforts by landlord organizations in California and
Massachusetts. There, media campaigns, large donations
to politicians hostile to rent regulations and the
sponsorship of reports critical of rent regulations by
policy "experts" led to the end of rent controls. As in
New York, the financial resources of tenants to counter
the landlords' public relations efforts were minuscule
by comparison.

As an analytical tool, economists who examine
regulatory systems have often described differences
between market prices and regulated prices as
subsidies.  Nonetheless, even economists recognize that
the analytical framework they operate under often
departs from ethical, cultural and constitutional
traditions. Otherwise, economic efficiency as narrowly
defined in classical models would trump every other
public value. Morality would be reduced to the point at
which supply intersects demand. The eclectic values of
a democratic polity, constituted as it is by diverse
sources of public experience, would fall prey to
something that might best be described as an economic
theocracy. We would be instructed on the price of
everything and the value of nothing.

As former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich recently
stated: "It has never been economics alone that defines
America. If we choose as a culture to push back against
economic forces that would otherwise divide us, it is
within our ability to do so. And the consequence of
choosing otherwise - by pretending that the choice is
not ours to make - is to cease being a society."

The semi-conscious nature of the transformation of New
York's "fair rent" system to a "subsidy" system
deprives us of a fair opportunity to explore that

Timothy L. Collins is a partner in the law firm of
Collins & Dobkin. He served as Executive Director of
the New York City Rent Guidelines Board from 1987
through 1994.

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
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Date: Mon, 09 Jun 1997 12:32:39 -0400
Subject: About the NYtenants mailing lists


We wish to apologize to our subscribers for the delay in news from our
mailing lists. We encountered a number of problems of both the computer and
non-computer kind, some of which are continuing. Thanks to those of you who
made inquiries.


One thing we have done is create our GUIDE TO THE RENT WARS on our web
site, which you can access at

There you can access current media articles and position papers (from both
sides). We even have the entire transcripts from the March 11th NYC Council
and April 7th NYS Senate debates on rent regs, contact information for
elected officials, and copies of housing bills supposedly being considered
by the legislature.


A few subscribers expressed disappointment that we weren't listing every
single pickup demonstration whenever two or more tenants wished to express
their outrage at Pataki or Bruno. Our Bulletin Board system is an
appopriate place for tenants to announce such events at

Although any user is free to post opinions or events on the Bulletin Board,
we should also state that we do not necessarily support all actions or
strategies. If you haven't figured it out yet, TenantNet is an independent
entity and not affiliated with any particular tenant group, coalition or
political party. Indeed, TenantNet was created precisely because some of
the larger tenant groups were either stuck in 1930's ideology, run by
egomaniacs who continue to make one unforgivable mistake after another, or
which dismissed any good idea or person that came along.

As some of you know, our web site has been subject to harassment and
"denial of use" attacks by a certain individual. We were able to get ATT
Worldnet to pull his account, but he came back through both Netcom and
Microsoft Network -- both of which are not responding to our messages. So,
if you can't access the Bulletin Board and your ISP is either Netcom or
Microsoft Network, it's because we've had to block access to all users from
these carriers. We apologize for this unfortunate but necessary action, and
we suggest you complain to those carriers if you're affected.

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The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
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Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Mon, 09 Jun 1997 14:00:52 -0400
Subject: Catching-Up #1

Special nytenants-digest
Catching-Up #1
Monday, June 9, 1997

In this issue:

    Letter from Tenant Attorney Robert Katz
    Rent Control letter to Sheldon Silver
    Silver the Savior?
    Rent Question
    The Rotten Apple   =20


                         ROBERT A. KATZ
                        Attorney at Law
                   201-03 Northern Boulevard
                    Bayside, New York 11361
                         (718) 428-0676

                                        May 19, 1997

The Honorable George Pataki
Governor of New York
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12201

The Honorable Joseph Bruno
The Senate, New York State
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12201

The Honorable Alfonse D=92Amato
United States Senate
The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Sirs:

     I here address you in my capacity as counsel to the Queens
League of United Tenants (QLOUT).

     While I am an acknowledged tenant advocate I am going to put
aside my tenant ardor and instead attempt to speak to you in
pragmatic professional terms in a manner devoid of invective
propaganda as now being generated by landlord and tenant, alike.

     I will first review with you two instances of deregulation
in New York City and the fact that both of them led to such
serious crisis that both Republicans and Democrats could only
remedy the circumstances by reimposing controls.

     The first instance to be discussed is the effect of the
Rockefeller Decontrol Law. What occurred there from 1971 to 1974
was the loss of some 400,000 homes in New York City. And it is
well known that the remedy for this fiasco was that Republican
Gov. Malcolm Wilson took the step in concert with the Democrats,
to modify the vacancy decontrol law so that after an initial fair
market rent the rent controlled apartment upon the new rental was
no longer decontrolled but was placed into rent stabilization.

     What is not so well known is why in 1969 it became necessary
for New York City to establish Rent Stabilization. The apartments
that went into this system had been in a completely free market
independent of the rent control system. But this radically
changed when it became clear to then Mayor John Lindsey, in about
1968, that the Real Estate Industry was taking irresponsible
advantage of a housing market with an exceptionally low vacancy
rate as related to the uncontrolled free market. Mr. Lindsay then
ordered an inductive investigatory study which found that:

     (A)  A sharp drop in the vacancy rate in the uncontrolled
          sector to 1.23 percent and to 0.73 percent in
          apartments never controlled.

     (B)  A recent median rent increase in the uncontrolled
          sector of 26.5 percent.

     It was also found that these increases were forcing tenants
to expend more than 25% of their gross income =93...and such
increases present a clear and present danger to the City=92s
retention of its middle class.=94

     There were also findings in 1968 that:

     (A)  The problem with deterioration and unsafe buildings was
          getting progressively worse.

     (B)  That in addition to the increased rents, landlords were
          passing along, in an annexed rider, the costs of taxes
          and operating and management expenses as additional

     (C)  That the construction of new residential buildings, was
          drastically reduced due to new zoning laws.

     (D)  That tenants were forced to give increases because
          there were no time restraints as to when the landlord
          would confront the tenant with a new lease which the
          tenant could no longer afford yet had to pay or suffer

     The conditions in May 1969, when the Rent Stabilization Law
was enacted, were not unlike the present except for the fact that
we were then dealing with a much younger housing stock (today=92s
housing is almost forty years older). When I say we had like
conditions I am of course referring to a similar economy. In 1968
unemployment was high in New York City. Today, while the national
unemployment figures are very low, New York City has failed to
follow the national trend and in New York City unemployment
remains unexceptionally high.

     Mayor Lindsey in 1968 found that using between 25% and 30%
of your gross income for housing was a crisis mandating
government intervention. Today in regulated housing we are seeing
tenants who must expend up to fifty percent of gross income for

     You are always hearing the Rent Stabilization Association
play the tune that with rent deregulation there will be new
residential construction. Allow me to put this canard to rest by
making the following observations:

     (A)  That if you check the law you will learn that in the
          years now covered by rent regulation new residential
          construction can be built without government subsidy
          and the landlord can charge the free market as there is
          no regulation.

     (B)  That even if the landlord accepts a government subsidy
          he can still set a free market first rent for the
          initial tenant and the tenant at said rent will then
          become rent stabilized with all renewal leases at the
          rent increase set by the Rent Guidelines Board.

     (C)  That even if you deregulate it will still be very hard
          to build multiple residential housing in New York City
          because of the zoning restrictions which makes such
          land that is available scarce and expensive. This is
          something that the Legislature has no power to correct
          because zoning is controlled by the City. This was a
          problem in 1968 and remains a problem today and it is a
          prime reason why residential construction cannot be
          built without subsidy.

     The next fact that you should focus on is that regulation
does not only deal with the setting of rent. Most significantly,
regulation provides a remedy for the tenant when the landlord
curtails delivery of services including such essentials as heat
and hot water.

     Now it is true that any tenant can complain to the Courts or
other governmental agencies. But as a practical matter without
protective regulation the tenant is afraid to complain because
the tenant fears that the lease will not be renewed. At present
the regulated tenant is safe when he complains because the law
requires lease renewal. Further, today if this landlord decides
to harass the regulated tenant has his remedy through the DHCR
enforcement unit.

     Now lets talk about rent. If a landlord keeps up his
building there is no reason for a landlord not to enjoy a
substantial rent. Under rent control the landlord has been
receiving an increase of 7 =BD% per year. If rent stabilized the
clean landlord has substantial guideline increase with
supplemental increases on rents deemed low rents. In both the
rent controlled and rent stabilized systems a landlord who takes
care of his or her building also obtains additional permanent
rent increases when he makes individual apartment improvements
before re-renting the apartment, plus a permanent vacancy
allowance, where the Rent Guidelines Board deems same to be
appropriate. Even after all this, if a landlord is not making a
profit, a hardship increase is still available. And, of course, a
building-wide improvement will also bring to the landlord the
well-known permanent award of an MCI increase.

     These landlords who seek to milk their buildings and have
rents reduced or frozen because they do not properly care for
their building are the landlords who would clearly benefit from

     Allow me now to explain something about luxury decontrol and
how it works and does not work. When the notice is served some
people leave. But those who elect to fight, and of course have
resources to fight, will keep their apartments for many years
while litigation goes on.

     I have mentioned the above issue because I want to impress
upon you that those tenants who the Legislature shall seek to
deregulate will not accommodate you and leave. I can tell you
that the tenant will have to be evicted in Court and that this
will tax Courts that can not handle the present load. Thus to
effectively handle such proceedings would mean a greatly expanded
Court budget.

     I can also promise you that if appropriate forms of
adjudication are not made available there will be due process
tests wherever the tenants movement believes same to be

     I trust you will find this helpful in examining your options
in this matter.


     Deregulation has failed twice. The second time, was the ill-
fated attempt of vacancy decontrol. Each time that it failed it
caused a crisis wherein a remedy had to be rushed to stave off
catastrophe. Each time that it failed the conditions were either
comparable or better than they are at the present time.

     Today, blowing in the face of historical fact you wish to
create such crisis again. Of most recent date the Hon. John
Cardinal O=92Connor, speaking from the pulpit of Saint Patrick=92s
Cathedral, made a suggestion for an extender and a detailed study
of the issues. As a tenant advocate I do not hesitate to now
state that the Cardinal=92s path of pulling back from rash action
are words of wisdom that should be most carefully considered in
this mad heedless dash to June 15, 1997. We welcome participation
in such an effort.

                                   Respectfully yours,
                                   Robert A. Katz

P.S. I have in this letter referred to the following documents.

(A)  Local law 16 of 1969 which was signed into law as the Rent
     Stabilization Law on May 6, 1969.

(B)  The report on Rent Stabilization of February 1969 which led
     to the passage of the Rent Stabilization Law.

(C)  With respect to the zoning issue see the N.Y. Times Real
     Estate Section article by Dennis Hevesi May 7, 1997.


From: jeff 
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 1997 11:55:11 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: rent control

5, June 1997 =20

The Hon.  Sheldon Silver,=20
Speaker of theNew York State Assembly=20

Dear Mr.  Silver,=20

I have been a tenant of a rent stabilized apartment for
25 years.  I can only look on in dismay  and  disbelief
as the process unfolds with regards to the fate of rent
regulations. =20

I  have given much thought to this matter and felt that
I should express my thinking and feelings on  the  fate
of  rent  regulations,  as  the  outcome will effect me
directly one way, or the other. =20

I am aware that no matter how this turns out, you  can,
at   the   very  best  hope  for  a  draw,  status  quo
maintained, and At worst you fail to hold the line  and
rent laws  sunset.  The middle ground is a no better as
it surrenders rent regulation for the future, I suspect
I have some idea what your situation must be like. =20

That their exists a clear legislative history, complete
with  an  historical  basis  for  the  rent  regulation
legislation  as  it  has  currently come to exist. That
Vacancy decontrol was undertaken once before, and  four
hundred  thousand  apartments  were vacated during this
time, which led to the reimposition of rent regulations
to stave off  the  clear  and  outrageous  abuses  that
vacancy  decontrol  brought on seems to have no meaning
nor merit  in  the  eyes  of  some  legislators,  who's
constituency  may  or may not be affected by changes to
the current rent laws. =20

That anyone, would have the  temerity  to  present  the
notion, anything has changed other then the date on the
calendar  is  itself unreal, Given market conditions on
apartments and the housing shortage.    This  does  not
address  the  issue  of  affordable  housing within the
affected areas. =20

Recent reports have noted that landlords are so sure of
the outcome on this matter  that  they  have  not  been
bothering  to  send  out  renewal  leases  in  a timely
manner, or at all, as prescribed by current rent laws=20

I want to be clear,  that  as  a  beneficiary  of  rent
regulation, I understand that by simply giving into the
demands  for  vacancy  decontrol  along with some other
demands or changes to the rent laws by Mr.  Bruno,  and
his  money  chasing  minions,  I  can assure for myself
continued affordable housing. =20

The whole  situation,  is  a  shameful  outrage  and  I
believe  that  while the matter could be laid fairly at
the  feet  of  the  republicans,  the   issue   clearly
transcends  party  lines,  and  is a matter of personal
conscience,  and  integrity,  on  the  part  of   state
legislators, and the landlord groups backing them . =20

It  is to conscience and integrity that I would address
myself.  I ask that you do not compromise on any matter
of conscience  that  would  make  me  a  part  of  this
shameless greed  and  self  interest.  Should it appear
that rent regulations will be allowed to  lapse  as  it
seems  they  are  destined  to  do,  let those who have
traded conscience, and integrity for a few coins of the
realm political or otherwise, know that they do  so  in
the  political  light of day, be it by their actions or
lack of same, be it in the opened, or in the shadows of
back rooms in our state capital, make them aware,  come
the  end  of the day, those affected will know, or come
to  know,  all  who  would  set  their  conscience  and
integrity aside, and leave so many aggrieved, for their
willingness to do so. =20

I  trust  you  will continue to find the strength to do
what must be done, and be assured I will  support  your
actions come what may. =20



Date: Fri, 6 Jun 1997 10:53:18 -0400
Subject: Silver the Savior?

Today's NY Times (6/5/97), in the article about Bruno's vacancy decontrol=20
"plan", also stated that Speaker Silver was pushing his own proposal to=
enough new housing units so that the vacancy rate would exceed 5% and=20
automatically trigger the end of rent regulations.  Am I the only one who=20
considers this worse than what Pataki or Bruno are proposing?  Their plans=
would be a gradual phase out over maybe 10 to 15 years or even longer is=
cases.  Silver's proposal could add the additional units to go over the 5%=
2 or 3 years.  Whose side is he on?  Did he also get bought out by the=20

H. Siegel


Date: Fri, 6 Jun 1997 20:35:20 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: rent question

I looked at a cool apt today, and put in an application but was told=20
i couldnt sign the lease till june 15 bc of rent deregulation.  Yet=20
the broker told me they could guarantee me that the rent wont increase=20
and that its not about the money but rather the type of lease they will=20
give me - im wondering whats the real reason for the wait? Any
info would be greatly appreciated!!!!


Date: Sat, 31 May 1997 08:06:12 -0400
From: Lancelot 

Mayor Giuliani Allows Landlords to Gaybash!
NYPD's 67th Precinct Victimizes Gay Advocate and Community Volunteer
The NYPD-67th Precinct...the Klan in blue?=20

On 06/24/96, while trying to organize the tenants in my building, there was
an eviction in process which rumor said was illegal. One of the tenants
being evicted gave me permission to enter the apartment to see if there
were any possible HPD Code Violations. Upon entering I was confronted by my
landlord's bodyguard, Mookie Wilson. Mookie asked me to leave saying he was
working for the Sheriff and had the authority to order me out. I would not
accept his lie and refused to leave. Then Mookie resorted to a personal
attack saying things about my sex life about which he had no personal
knowledge. His fantasies were vulgar and humiliating. (See my Police
Report.) My neighbors watched while I was publicly castrated! My only
witness is a hostile one: The wife of the building super. The uproar ended
when Mookie exposed himself and said, "I know you want this." He used his
body and the steel door to shove me out of the apartment. When the tenant
who had given me permission to enter asked, I departed. My health relapsed
and I am still suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
The 67th Precinct refused to arrest Mookie and turned ON ME! Since then two
groups of rogue cops from the 67th Precinct have formed a gang and harassed
me for demanding my rights and respect. I have made several complaints to
City and State agencies. Neither Mayor Rudy Giuliani or Governor Pataki
will respond to my inquires on my complaints some of which are almost a
ORGANIZERS, VOLUNTEERS AND ACTIVISTS. Will there ever be justice in
Brooklyn, New York or the other boroughs?

The majority of you have any similar experience or if Mayor Giuliani's
administration has not treated you lawfully and you would like to be a part
of a CLASS ACTION, please send email to If we become
the new "Boys in the Band," we can make a difference in the quality and
safety of our lives and those oppressed by population in New York City!
Answer the call!

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in=20
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant=20
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Mon, 09 Jun 1997 14:30:02 -0400
Subject: Catching-Up #2

Special nytenants-digest
Catching-Up #2
Monday, June 9, 1997

In this issue:

    Citizens for Open Access to Legislation: Update
    SoHo: artist persecution capital of the world
    U.S. Supreme court rejects Giuliani anti-art appeal
    Street artist anti-Freed demo 6/9/97 SoHo


Date: Thu, 5 Jun 1997 20:37:15 -0400 (EDT)
From: (Reginald Neale)
Subject: C.O.@.L. Update

The C.O.@.L. INDEX as of the third week in May stood at approximately 4.6
(Defined as the ratio of the number of fundraisers this session to the
number of days the legislature has met: 180/39).

*    NO BUDGET YET. . . .

Lawmakers are busy, but not with the tasks we elected them to do. Stalled
budget negotiations leave them plenty of time to organize shake-and-take
sessions. They're collecting money for next year's campaigns at a record
clip, and incurring political debts that will have to be paid back later.
Since the existing law makes their sources of cash so easy to hide, we'll
never know whether their legislative decisions were influenced by these
contributions or not.


One of the things that keeps our state gridlocked and reform-proof is the
dominance of special-interest money in election campaigns.

Are you a tenant? How do you think your concerns about fair housing rights
are affected by the $900,000 that lawmakers have quietly collected from
landlords since rent controls were adopted?

Do you buy insurance? How do you think the rivers of cash that insurance
companies have funneled into legislators' campaigns might be affecting your

Do you pay for electricity, gas, and telephone service? The giant utilities
spend millions on lobbyists and direct campaign contributions. They're
salivating over the prospect of bamboozling you about electric power
deregulation the same way they did about telephone deregulation.

Do you have children in school? Do you deal with government offices? The
Teacher's Union and the Civil Servant's Employee Association are the two
biggest contributors to political fundraising. When their dollars are in
every legislator's pocket, do you think your public policy ideas get as
fair a hearing as theirs?

Are you concerned about quality medical care? HMOs are taking decisions
about your health care away from you and your doctor. They have lots of
money to spend on cozying up to legislators who make the rules for their

*    THE PROBLEM . . . .

New York legislators are able to keep their sources of funding hidden from
the public. Campaign finance documents are "hidden in plain sight" at the
Board of Elections in Albany. Even if you could afford to go to there to
search for them, correlating all the records for an individual candidate is
nearly impossible. There is no way to get a coherent picture of who your
representatives might owe favors to, and the legislature has been perfectly
content to keep it that way.

*    THE SOLUTION . . . .

All candidates for office should be required to submit their campaign
finance information in electronic form, in a standardized format. This
information should be made publicly available on-line as soon as the Board
of Elections verifies it. That would, for the first time, give ordinary New
Yorkers like you and me the ability to draw our own conclusions about who
bought whom and for how much.

This may sound like a revolutionary concept, but many states and
municipalities already do it. Bills to implement just such a system in New
York State have been introduced repeatedly, but legislative leaders, who
are not anxious have their links to special interests exposed, always
manage to stonewall them or sabotage them. The current session is no
exception. Assembly Bill A2415, recycled from last year, was passed early
in the session. Senate companion bill S3855 is languishing in the Elections
Committee. Last month its sponsor, Senator Oppenheimer (D-Westchester),
tried to force some action on this issue by introducing a motion to
discharge. As always happens in such cases, the Senate refused -- by a
party-line vote -- to debate it. Last year's maneuvers were even more
devious, but the result is always the same. Until our representatives see
that we're willing to put their jobs in jeopardy, they will continue trying
to keep us in the dark.

*    DO AS I SAY . . . .

The essential hypocrisy of the Legislature's position is nicely illustrated
by last week's Senate passage of S3766, in which, ironically, state
government openly acknowledges that it understands and appreciates the
value of electronic filing -- when IT wants information on YOU. This bill
encourages businesses that file financial information with state agencies
to do so electronically. To quote from the language of the sponsor's memo:
" ...the use of electronic data transmission for the submission of records
will benefit the filers of such documents through reduced costs.
...Additional benefits include the speed and ease of filing records with
the Secretary of State." The memo goes on to mention advantages for state
government: " ...possible savings ... from reduced costs associated with
the electronic filing of records."

But when the PUBLIC wants information on contributions to the election
campaigns of lawmakers themselves, well, that information can only be made
available in paper form, and citizens have to go to Albany to rummage
through file cabinets for it.


Even the federal government -- our notorious "Coin-Operated Congress" --
releases more candidate campaign finance information than New York State
does. The Federal Elections Commission maintains an on-line database of all
reported contributions, while New York State's legislative leaders continue
to block adoption of any of the  proposed laws which would computerize
candidates records and make them available to the public in a useful form.

*    ACTION ITEM . . . .

Write your state lawmakers. Tell them that you want them to support
A2415/S3855. Tell them that if they reject "digital sunshine" yet again,
they can expect to pay for it next year when they run for re-election.


If you're still not mad enough at our rotten state government to get
personally involved, a current article by Eric Lane might just push you
over the edge. Lane is Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Public
Service at the Law University of Hofstra. Before switching from politics to
academia, he was the Chief Counsel to the Senate Democratic Leadership.
Lane is an insider and a veteran. He was in the trenches for years, he was
a major player and he knows which closets the skeletons are in. No longer
compelled to toe the party line, he can afford to be candid about how state
government really works. His conclusion: Albany is screwed up even worse
than we think. Read 'Albany's Travesty of Democracy' in CITY JOURNAL, Vol.
7 No. 2, Spring 1997 pp. 49-56. I bought my copy at Borders. Earlier this
month, Professor Lane was also interviewed on Dr. Alan Chartock's CAPITOL
CONNECTION radio program. Tapes are available for $10 from WAMC Northeast
Network, 318 Central Avenue, Albany NY12206, 518-465-5233.


Andrew Greenblatt, former Executive Director of Common Cause NY, brought it
to my attention that the "rivers of cash" referred to earlier in this piece
do not flow equally to every legislator. Assemblyman Pete Grannis
(D-Manhattan) chairs the Insurance Committee. He is one of the few who
makes a point of not accepting any money from the industry he regulates.
It's probably not a coincidence that he is a prime sponsor of A5503, the
Integrity In Government Act. This is a set of common-sense lobby reforms
aimed at limiting abuses, which increasingly resemble outright bribery.
Many of his fellow legislators seem to be hoping that if they ignore it
long enough, it will go away. Check it out at the URL shown below.
Shouldn't your Assembly Representative be supporting it? Contact him/her,
the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Majority Leader of the
Senate. Tell them this bill is too important to ignore.

Gov. George Pataki  Hon. Sheldon Silver      Hon. Joseph Bruno
Executive Chamber   Speaker of the Assembly  Senate Majority Leader
State Capitol       Room 932 LOB             Room 909 LOB
Albany NY 12224     Albany NY 12248          Albany NY 12247
518-474-8390        518-455-3791             518-455-3191

For more New York State info, point your browser to:
    or gopher to:     gopher://
    search for bills S3855, S3766, A2415, A5503
For Federal Elections Commission info

Reginald Neale, Secretary    Citizens for Open Access to Legislation


Date: Fri, 30 May 1997 07:52:29 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: SoHo: artist persecution capital of the world

Welcome to SoHo:
Artist Persecution Capital of the World

SoHo is certainly America's most unusual art district. Unlike other
art communities, SoHo actively persecutes artists and fights against
First Amendment freedom.

SoHo's landlords became rich thanks to artists. Wealth brought the
landlords so much leisure time they can now afford to dedicate their
lives to calling the police about artists exhibiting paintings on the
publicly-owned sidewalk across from their buildings.

Trendy stores that located in SoHo to benefit from it being an artistic
neighborhood complain to the police that artists are, "Distracting the
public from buying our merchandise", and demand that they be
forcibly removed.

Residents who moved into SoHo because they wanted to live in an art
center whine that there are, "just too many artists". That's like
moving to the country and complaining that there are too many trees.

>From 1993 until 1996 a pogrom against street artists was undertaken
in SoHo. Hundreds of artists were handcuffed and arrested due to
relentless political manipulation of the police by the SoHo Alliance,
a landlord advocacy group run by City Council Member Kathryn
Freed and her CB2 appointee, Sean Sweeney. Thousands of original
works of fine art were illegally confiscated and destroyed or were
disposed of at a monthly N.Y.P.D. forfeiture auction, yet, not one
artists' case was ever brought to trial.

To protect their own and every artists' constitutional rights, members
of A.R.T.I.S.T. were forced to file a number of Federal and State
lawsuits against the City of New York. Art museums, advocacy
groups, the ACLU and world renowned artists eventually joined the
street artists in the lawsuit.

Hoping to enlist the Federal government in their vicious campaign to
permanently cleanse New York City of street artists, Council Member
Freed and Sean Sweeney joined the Fifth Avenue Association, the
Madison Avenue Business Improvement District and three of the
City's most powerful real estate groups to file a scathingly worded
amicus brief against artists' rights in Federal Court.

Their brief attempted to deny First Amendment protection to fine art,
specifically, paintings, photographs, sculptures and limited-edition
prints. Ironically, Freed and Sweeney's brief also denied the validity
of Constitutional protection for SoHo's art dealers and gallery
owners. Perhaps that's the reason why they are still trying to keep
their brief, filed on 2/28/96, a secret not only from the public but
from their own ever dwindling number of supporters. It  states:

"The sale of artwork does not involve communication of thoughts or
ideas" and warns of, "the dangers...of allowing visual art full First
Amendment protection." It goes on to state, "...An artists' freedom
of expression is not compromised by regulating his ability to
merchandise his artwork....the sale of paintings and other artwork
does not reach this high level of expression (guaranteeing First
Amendment protection)..."  [#95-9089]. In a barrage of newspaper
articles, hysterical quotes by Freed and her real estate allies likened
street artists to "parasites" and scapegoated them for everything from
litter and prostitution to the proliferation of communicable diseases.

Luckily for America's artists, Freed and the real estate lobby's
misbegotten views on freedom of expression were completely rejected
by the court. On 10/16/96 the street artists won their Federal lawsuit.
The 2nd Circuit Federal Appeals Court ruling unambiguously states:

"Visual art is as wide ranging in its depiction of ideas, concepts and
emotions as any book, treatise, pamphlet or other writing, and is
similarly entitled to full First Amendment protection....the City's
requirement that appellants be licensed in order to sell their artwork
in public spaces constitutes an unconstitutional infringement of their
First Amendment rights...Displaying art on the street has a different
expressive purpose than gallery or museum shows;  it reaches people
who might not choose to go into a gallery or museum or who might
feel excluded or alienated from these forums.  The public display and
sale of artwork is a form of communication between the artist and the
public not possible in the enclosed, separated spaces of galleries and

Appellants are interested in attracting and communicating with the
man or woman on the street who may never have been to a gallery
and indeed who might never have thought before of possessing a
piece of art until induced to do so on seeing appellants' works.  The
sidewalks of the City must be available for appellants to reach their
public audience..." Lederman et al v. City of New York 959089 United
States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. Argued April 26, 1996. Decided
Oct. 10, 1996. For access to the full text of the ruling see:


Will SoHo's landlords, merchants and gallery owners ever learn to
accept street artists? So far, the persistent (and mostly anonymous)
calls to the First Precinct and Peddler Squad continue. Such
unjustified and bigoted complaints about artists would be an
embarrassment in any civilized society, let alone in the self-
proclaimed art capital of the world. It's time for SoHo to accept that
there is a First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that it
vigorously protects the rights of artists.

Over thousands of years artistic freedom has withstood assaults from
countless dictators, elites and self-righteous censors. As long as there
is a SoHo there will be artists creating, displaying and offering, in
freedom, their creations on its streets.

Artists are SoHo's greatest resource. Artists, not landlords or cast
iron buildings, are what give SoHo its vitality, color and depth.
Artists are what makes SoHo more than just another non-descript
shopping mall.

It's time for SoHo to stop vilifying those who butter your bread,
sustain your real estate values and attract the public to your profitable
restaurants, galleries and boutiques: living, breathing, hard-working

    For more information on A.R.T.I.S.T. or to express your opinion
                       on this issue please call:
       Robert Lederman (212) 334-4327  E-mail
                or visit the A.R.T.I.S.T. web site at:


Date: Tue, 3 Jun 1997 06:12:02 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: U.S. Supreme court rejects Giuliani anti-art appeal

For Immediate Release: 6/2/97
Street Artist Federal ruling stands; U.S. Supreme Court
rejects Giuliani appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied the Giuliani Administration's
appeal of the 2nd Circuit Federal Appeals Court decision in Lederman
et al v. City of New York. The ruling had affirmed that street artists
are protected by the First Amendment and can sell their art on City
streets without a license.

Police harassment against artists continued right up until this past
Sunday, with confiscations of paintings and artist's displays, threats
of arrest and numerous tickets being issued in SoHo. Members of
A.R.T.I.S.T. staged an impromptu demonstration on West Broadway
this Saturday after the police attempted to clear the street of artists,
claiming, "The landlords don't want artists here, we have many
complaints", and, "Giuliani appealed your case, we don't have to
follow the ruling".

>From 1993 until 1997 the N.Y.P.D., under pressure from City
Council Member Kathryn Freed and a coalition of landlord
advocacy groups including the Fifth Avenue Association and the
SoHo Alliance, arrested more than 400 artists. Thousands of
original paintings, photographs, prints and sculptures were
confiscated and sold at a monthly police department auction or
destroyed by the City.

Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists' Response
To Illegal State Tactics) issued this statement about the Supreme
Court's ruling:

"This decision protects the speech rights not just of artists, but
of every person in this country. N.Y.C. officials can no longer
ignore the Constitution just to please landlords and campaign
contributors. I hope that the Mayor and Council Member Freed
will carefully read the 2nd Circuit ruling and abide by it. Street
artists benefit the City. It's time for the City to recognize the
significant contribution artists make to New York's culture and
economy and to stop treating us like second class citizens."

For the entire text of the 2nd Circuit ruling and other detailed
information on this issue visit the A.R.T.I.S.T. web site at:

The 2nd Circuit Federal Appeals Court ruling unambiguously states:

"Visual art is as wide ranging in its depiction of ideas, concepts and
emotions as any book, treatise, pamphlet or other writing, and is
similarly entitled to full First Amendment protection....the City's
requirement that appellants be licensed in order to sell their artwork in
public spaces constitutes an unconstitutional infringement of their First
Amendment rights...Displaying art on the street has a different
expressive purpose than gallery or museum shows;  it reaches people
who might not choose to go into a gallery or museum or who might feel
excluded or alienated from these forums.  The public display and sale of
artwork is a form of communication between the artist and the public not
possible in the enclosed, separated spaces of galleries and museums...

Appellants are interested in attracting and communicating with the man
or woman on the street who may never have been to a gallery and indeed
who might never have thought before of possessing a  piece of art until
induced to do so on seeing appellants' works.  The sidewalks of the City
must be available for appellants to reach their public audience..."
Lederman et al v. City of New York 959089 United States Court of
Appeals, Second Circuit. Argued April 26, 1996. Decided Oct. 10,

               For more information on A.R.T.I.S.T.  call:
          Robert Lederman (718) 369-2111 (212) 334-4327  E-mail  or visit the A.R.T.I.S.T. web site at:
        Lawyers for the case: Wayne Cross and Randy Fox at Dewey
                         Ballentine 212 259-8000


Date: Sat, 7 Jun 1997 06:35:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Street artist anti-Freed demo 6/9/97 SoHo

On Monday 6/9/97 at 5:30 there will be a debate between Council Member
Kathryn Freed and challengers for her City Council seat, Jenny Lim and Marie
Dormuth. Freed is the N.Y.C. elected official most directly involved in the
artist arrest policy. [see N.Y. Times 6/3/97 page B3; N.Y. Times Editorial

Both Lim and Dormuth strongly support artists rights.
Members of A.R.T.I.S.T. many of whom were arrested for showing their art,
will demonstrate outside the event.

On 6/2/97 the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the City's appeal of the street
artist decision in Lederman et al v. City of New York.
For more info see
or call Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T. 718 369-2111 or 212


Date: Sun, 15 Jun 1997 23:15:08 -0400
Subject: Rent Regs Update - June 15, 11 PM

Albany, June 15, 10:00 PM

We hope you're ready for "Sellout '97"

If you've been watching the tube, you probably saw what really belongs in a
Lewis Carrol novel: landlords are running a commercial calling for the
renewal of the rent laws, not -- as you might expect -- the end of rent

That's because at this point "endgame" traverses into "blame game" -- which
party will be most blamed for the expiration of the rent laws (and for the
last six-month roller coaster ride). Don't be surprised -- this entire
charade has never been about tenants and legitimate housing issues. The
hallmark of the debate has been extreme media bias and the almost universal
conclusion from allegedly serious journalists that when one rents an
apartment, they transform into a socialist, marxist or worse.

>From both sides of the aisle, it's been about partisan one-upmanship. For
that reason, if blame must be assessed, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver,
who has turned into a tenant advocate only in the last six months, must
share the blame with Pataki and Bruno.

And groups like Tenants & Neighbors (AKA NYSTNC) must also share the blame
for irreversible damage to tenants' rights: 1) actively promoting the
Democrat party agenda over the tenants' rights agenda and 2) co-opting the
issue and pushing aside and disregarding other legitimate tenant groups,
voices, ideas and efforts.

With one hour left before rent regulations expire, talks between Governor
Pataki, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon
Silver continue. Silver has continued his refusal to consider complete
vacancy decontrol, but has offered a "compromise" which is being described
as a "vacancy bonus." Details are sketchy, but it would, much like vacancy
decontrol, allow a substantial bonus to landlords on a vacancy. Reports are
that this might be the "middle ground" to which all three could agree.

Not much is being talked about other issues that have been on the table,
such as mandatory court deposits, undoing the partial clarification of
vacancy decontrol expressed two months ago by NY City Council and other
more mundane subjects. Tenants must remember that in 1993 it was the
Democrats who gave landlords 1/40th rent increases for apartment
improvements and which, in the last four years, has indirectly led to the
decontrol of thousands of units.

Tenants are wondering if there's any real difference between "vacancy
decontrol" and "vacancy bonus" as it offers the same pot of gold for
landlords to harass and intimidate tenants out of their homes. It appears
Silver is offering Bruno and Pataki that which they've demanded -- vacancy
decontrol -- merely by changing the name.

If the system hasn't worked for tenants since 1984, such a move would
surely make things even worse given that we would be left with the same
corrupt DHCR and Housing Court, an RGB board that shouts "how high" when
Guiliani tells them to raise the rents, and a plethora of "liberal"
politicians giving "we love tenants" speeches and who do little else to fix
the system.

Meanwhile, somewhere between 600-800 tenants (not the 150 reported by NY1
Cable) continue a candlelight vigil in front of Gov. Pataki's NYC office on
Third Avenue between 40st and 41st Streets. Reports are that a rally is
being planned for 4:30 PM Monday, June 16, also in front of Pataki's
offices at 633 Third Avenue.

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Mon, 16 Jun 1997 13:02:11 -0400
Subject: Vacancy Decontrol is still Vacancy Decontrol

We've just received the following from Albany.

Although the text of the actual bill is still unavailable,
this outlines the major points of the "agreement" arrived at
last night between Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Governor
Pataki and Senator Joe Bruno.

No wonder Pataki is beaming. We'll have more to say later, but no
one should deceive themselves that this does not represent the
destruction of rent regulations. Any tenant advocate that may
claim this is a "victory" is either on LSD or in denial. Claiming
you've won when you're running for your life is just plain stupid
and, very unfortunately, one of the reasons tenants have been
losing for the last twenty-five years.

Simply put: Sheldon Silver sold tenants down the river.

         * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Agreement on Reform of Rent Protection Statutes

The agreement will contain the following elements:

I. Protecting Tenants

Rent regulations will be continued for all tenants presently
constituted, subjected to the changes and reforms noted below
for a period of six years.

II. Vacancy Allowances

For an apartment that is vacant on June 15, 1997, landlords
will be entitled to the following vacancy allowance:

A. For two-year leases, upon vacancy of an apartment, the
landlord shall be entitled to increase the rent by twenty
(20) percent, plus any additional vacancy increases as noted

B. If the lease is for one year, the twenty (20) percent
increase shall be reduced by the difference between a
two-year increase and one-year increase as authorized by the
Rent Guidelines Board.

For example, if the Board approves a 3 percent increase for
one year and a 5 percent increase for two years, the two-year
lease shall increase by 20 percent and the one-year lease
shall increase by 18 percent.

C. In addition to the vacancy allowances noted above, for a
vacant apartment where the previous tenant had lived for
eight or more years, the landlord shall be entitled to a 0.6
percent increase above the 20 percent vacancy allowance for
each year the previous tenant occupied the apartment.

For example, if the prior tenant was in the apartment for 10
years, the landlord would be entitled, for a two-year lease,
to increase the rent by the 20 percent vacancy allowance plus
an additional 6 percent. If the tenant was in occupancy for
20 years, the increase would be 20 percent plus and an
additional 12 percent.

D. For apartments that rent for $300 or less, in addition to
the vacancy allowances as noted above, the rent would
increase by $100 upon vacancy. In the event the rent for the
apartment was $300 to $500, upon vacancy the landlord would
get the vacancy allowances noted above or $100, whichever is

III. Succession

The rights of an individual to succeed the tenant named on
the lease would be limited by removing nieces, nephews,
aunts, uncles and cousins from those authorized to succeed
the prior tenant.

The right of succession without a vacancy allowance shall be
limited to one generation only. For example, a son or
daughter could continue in the occupancy after the mother or
father dies without a vacancy allowance.

Upon the next vacancy, the apartment shall be subject to the
vacancy allowances but qualified successors shall have the
right to continue in occupancy by matching the rent under the
formula of payment in section II.

IV. Regulatory Reform

Provides for reform of regulatory provisions in statute to
simplify the administration of rent regulations without
jeopardizing tenants rights, including: codifying the
four-year statute of limitation for contesting rent, fixing
the problems associated with the $10 filing fee paid to city;
and ending the concurrent jurisdiction of the State Division
of Housing and Community Renewal and the Courts for rent

V. Luxury Decontrol

The level for luxury decontrol would be lowered from $250,000
to $175,000 and the minimum rent would be $2,000.

VI. Escrow

In cases where there is a dispute between the landlord and
tenants, the tenant would be required to pay the rent into
escrow. Housing Court would have no discretion in this
regard, but after two adjournments would be required to order
the payment into escrow.

In buildings with 12 or fewer units, notwithstanding the
above, any undisputed amount of rent shall be paid by the
tenant to the landlord and the balance of the disputed amount
shall be paid into escrow.

The payment of the undisputed amount shall be without
prejudice to either party's legal rights.

VII. New Construction

Includes a statutory provision guaranteeing all new housing
construction after the date of the bill to ensure it will not
be subject to rent stabilization or rent control unless
subject to controls under current law or any new benefit
program as a result of the voluntary acceptance of a
government program which currently would place such units
under rent stabilization.

The Division of Housing and Community Renewal shall be
authorized to contract with the development group such
certifications as are necessary to guarantee such rights.

VIII. Tenant Harassment

Tough new penalties on landlords who harass tenants as stated
in the Executive proposal shall be incorporated into the

IX. Demolition

In any building set to be demolished occupied by three or
fewer tenants, who constitute 10 percent or less of the
overall dwelling units, the owner can relocate the tenants to
comparable apartments, including location, for the same or
lower rent.


The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Fri, 20 Jun 1997 21:04:16 -0400
Subject: "Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1997" now online

On June 19, 1997, the "Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1997" was passed by
both the NYS Assembly and Senate, codifying the most severe destruction of
tenant protections in over 25 years. Governor Pataki is expected to sign the
measure (if he hasn't already).

Although we haven't seen the actual vote, it appears that West Side
Assemblymember Scott Stringer was the only downstate assemblymember who had
enough courage to vote against the bill because it was so destructive to
tenants' rights (and also that no one had a chance to read it before the

Below you'll find what we believe to be the Legislative Memo which
summarizes (in a bit more detail from what we sent you on Monday) the major
points of the new law.

And if you're a glutton for punishment, we have also placed the full and
complete text of the new bill online which you can access at:



The bill would extend New York State's rent and eviction
protection and coopcondo conversion laws until June 15,


The bill would lower the income level for high-rent,
high-income decontrol from $250,000 to $l75,000 and
maintain the existing $2,000 rent level. Currently,
units renting for $2,000 or more a month and occupied by
households earning more than $250,000 in two consecutive
years are subject to high-rent, high-income decontrol.


The bill would provide occupants of units subject to
high rent, high-income decontrol with a right of first
refusal upon receipt of an order of decontrol.  Under
existing law, tenants do not have a right of first
refusal upon receipt of an order of decontrol.


The bill would establish a statutory vacancy allowances
for one and two year leases for units covered by the New
York City Rent Stabilization Law and the Emergency
Tenant Protection Act of 1974 (ETPA). The bill also
establishes enhanced vacancy allowances for (1) units
vacated after 8 or more years of continuous occupancy
and (2) units renting for less than $500 a month.
Currently, local rent guidelines boards establish
vacancy allowances for regulated units within their


The bill would codify current regulations governing the
succession rights of family members in rent regulated
units. However, the bill would diminish rights of
succession by removing nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles
from those family members authorized to succeed the
prior tenant. In addition, the bill would subject the
second generation of family members succeeding a tenant
and each second subsequent succession to the statutory
vacancy allowance and enhanced vacancy established by
the bill. Vacancy allowances are currently not imposed
when family members succeed the tenant of record.


The bill would enact new criminal penalties and
significantly increase civil penalties for landlords who
harass of tenants. The bill would amend the penal law to
create the new class B felony of harassment of a rent
regulated tenant punishable by up to four years in State


The bill would authorize municipalities to enforce the
collection of rent registration assessments by treating
them at liens on a property. Currently, owners of rent
stabilized units who fail to pay annual registration
assessments are precluded from applying for or
collecting any rent increases until such assessments are


The bill would codify a four-year statute of limitations
for contesting rent overcharges. Existing case law is
not definitive on whether tenants can bring rent
overcharge complaints for overcharges that occurred four
or more years ago.


The bill would, in summary proceedings to recover
possession, require rent accruing from the date that the
petition is served to be paid into escrow after two
tenant requests for an adjournment or 30 days, whichever
occurs sooner. Tenant requests for adjournment in order
to secure counsul would count toward the two requests
for adjournment. In buildings with 12 or fewer units,
any undisputed amount of rent would be required to be
paid by the tenant directly to the landlotd, with and
the remaining undisputed amount would be paid into
escrow. The amount of rent that public assistance
recipients must deposit into escow is limited under the
bill to no more than the amount of their shelter
allowance payment. The amount of rent that SSI
recipients must deposit into escrow under the bill would
be limited to no more than one-third of their total
monthly benefit. Currently, tenants must place all
future rent into escrow upon a second request for
adjournment by the tenant, except for good cause shown.
Currently a tenant's request for adjournment to secure
counsel does not count toward the two requests for


The bill would provide that in certain rent controlled
buildings in New York City which are set to be
demolished, the owner may relocate the tenants to
comparable apartments for the same or lower rent.
Current law has more stringent provisions.


The bill would require the Division of Housing and
Community Renewal to take into account court awarded
damages for violations of the warranty of habitability
for failure to maintain services before imposing damages
for those same violations and vice versa. Currently,
both tbe Division of Housing and Community Renewal and
the courts can award damages without considering the
actions of the other.


The bill would clarify that units with a maximum rent of
$2,000 or more which are or become become vacant on or
after the effective date of this legislation are not
subject to regulation. In the City of New York, units
must have a maximum rent of $2,000 or more upon vacancy
in order to be no longer subject to rent regulation.

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