ALBANY, N.Y. (NEXSTAR) — Just moments after passing the state legislature, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the new rent control bill into law.
Tenants from downstate New York have fought for stronger rent regulations for years. A multi-part piece of the legislation will also have impacts on Upstate New York.
Sen. Rachel May said there will be stronger tenant protections statewide.
“We had a hearing in Syracuse where we heard a lot from people about being evicted, not being able to feel like they could report a code violation on their rental property because they were afraid that they might get evicted if they did something like that,” she said. “So I feel like the changes that we’ve made, the protections for tenants, are really shifting the balance toward understanding that we want people to feel stable in their homes.”
Another statewide provision deals with manufactured homes.
“Mobile homes often aren’t actually mobile,” May explained. “They are on a foundation, but the people own the homes, but they rent the property underneath them. And that gives the landlords of those properties a lot of leverage over the mobile homeowners because they can raise the rent a lot, and it’s still worth it for the homeowner to stay there, but it’s not fair.”
There will also be an opportunity for local legislative bodies of an Upstate city, town or village to opt-in to a rent stabilization plan. But they’d have to meet very specific vacancy and building requirements.
“The thing about it is that it only is possible to do if you have a low vacancy rate, so if there is a big demand for rental housing already, so Syracuse for example, doesn’t have a low enough vacancy rate, so it wouldn’t apply there,” May said.
Opponents of the legislation say the issue should be left to the free market.
“It’s a program that NYC has proven doesn’t work, and for Upstate New York, we have hundreds and thousands of people leaving Upstate and Western New York every year,” Assemblyman Mark Johns said. “There’s plenty enough open properties and apartments for people that want to access a place to stay or live.”
Johns says it could “undercut” developers.
“I’ve gotten a lot of calls already from developers and real estate people who are interested in rehabbing and upgrading real estate,” he said. “They’re not willing to take the chance to put out money out of their own pockets for basically little or no return.”