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Cuomo says he will sign rent bills

Gov. Andrew Cuomo answers reporters' questions at the State Capitol on Wednesday.
Karen DeWitt/WXXI News
Gov. Andrew Cuomo answers reporters' questions at the State Capitol on Wednesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he will sign the rent law reforms agreed to by the Democratic-led state Legislature.

Cuomo was not involved in the talks between the Democrats in the Senate and Assembly, and in recent days, he had cast doubt that agreements could be reached.

But the governor now said he’ll approve the bills, after they are voted on Friday, one day before the rent laws expire.

“I believe this is the best tenant protections they will pass,” Cuomo said, “and I will sign it.”

The bills, among other things, end what’s known as vacancy decontrol, where landlords were able to place rent-regulated apartments on the open market after the monthly rent reaches a certain threshold, set by a state board.

Tenant advocates say the 20-year-old rule has resulted in the loss of over 300,000 rent-regulated apartments.

Localities outside New York City that do not have rent rules, including parts of Long Island and the Hudson Valley and all of upstate, will now have the option of adopting regulations that will hold the line on apartment costs, if the municipality’s housing vacancy rate is lower than 5%. It also strengthens protections for all tenants statewide when a landlord raises the rent or tries to evict them.

Finally, the new rent regulations will not sunset every few years, as they did in the past; they will be made permanent.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.