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Cuomo, De Blasio Want Reforms To Capital Improvement Rent Control Laws, Not Repeals

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2016

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo want to change, but not abolish, programs that allow landlords to increase rents when they renovate apartments and buildings.

Under the Major Capital Improvements and Individual Apartment Improvements programs, landlords can increase rents on stabilized units where they have made improvements for good. However, some state lawmakers want those provisions removed, as just one of several potential major changes to rent regulation laws.

De Blasio said Monday, however, that he wants the programs adjusted but not done away with entirely, The Real Deal reports. He supports Cuomo’s view that tenants should not face permanent rent increases as a result of the work, saying at a press conference that tenants should pay for “their share of improvements and nothing more." 

The mayor also supports the end of vacancy decontrol, per TRD, and the implementation of greater protections for tenants. The mayor’s comments follow Cuomo’s Friday press conference, when he said the legislature should keep MCI and IAI provisions, but restrict how long a landlord could raise the rent after making improvements.

"I support reforming them so that they're fair to the tenants," Cuomo said, Crain’s New York Business reports. "You want people to do capital improvements. But you don't want to reimburse more than the capital improvements."

The laws that govern the city’s million rent-regulated apartments will expire on June 15, and the now Democrat-controlled state Senate is planning widespread reform.

Along with the removal of MCI and IAI laws, a slew of changes could be coming — including changes to how preferential rent (a lower rate than allowed under the stabilization laws) is applied, and the removal of vacancy decontrol, which allows for apartments to be destabilized if the rent hits the luxury deregulation threshold of $2,733 and becomes vacant.

The laws are expected to have profound impact on the city’s commercial real estate industry and have garnered criticism from landlords, brokers and industry lobby group, The Real Estate Board of New York.

Anxiety around the changes, and the impact they will have, are said to have slowed down multifamily sales in the city, and some developers have said the market is now completely frozen.

But, like most urban centers, New York is facing a housing crisis and some tenant advocates argue rent reform is a crucial element to making the city more affordable.