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NYS Senate, Assembly Unable To Come To An Agreement On Rent Stabilization Laws

UPDATED 06/16/15 12:30 a.m.

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Despite dire warnings, Albany lawmakers were unable to agree on the possibility of extending rent regulations covering more than 2 million tenants in and around New York City.

Rent regulation laws officially expired at midnight Monday night.

As CBS2's Jessica Schneider reported, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that landlords had best not take advantage of the situation.

"At this point, both houses of the State Legislature have been unable to come to an agreement to pass new rent regulations," Cuomo said in a statement. "While today may be the legal expiration date for some of these laws, landlords should under no circumstances believe that their responsibility under the current rent stabilization program has expired."

Cuomo noted that the Legislature likewise allowed the laws to lapse in 2011, and any package that does get passed will be retroactive.

"Any landlord who attempts to exploit this situation will face serious legal consequences," Cuomo said in the statement. "I have been clear and unambiguous: this Legislature will not leave Albany without passing new rent regulation laws for the more than 2 million tenants who depend on these protections."

Meanwhile, many tenants were left worried that they will end up homeless, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reports.

"I think they're dropping the ball and they should really be proactive about it because a lot of people depend on that rent to stay in New York," said Paul Echaniz, who lives on the Lower East Side.

The Assembly and Senate have been at odds over extending the longstanding rules.

"This is really Albany at its worst," Mayor Bill de Blasio told WCBS 880. "We're talking about rent regulations for over 2 million New Yorkers expiring at midnight and they still haven't gotten their act together. To me, this is absolutely unacceptable."

Time Running Out As NYC Rent Regulation Laws Set To Expire At Midnight

Rent stabilization is what has enabled King and Emma Khojanakong to keep their two bedroom apartment in Stuyvesant Town in the East Village for more than 40 years.

"In 1970, we paid a couple hundred a month," King Khojanakong told CBS2's Janelle Burrell. "Now it's $1,700."

With fixed retirement incomes, they're dependent on their stabilized rent, which could more than triple if the laws are not extended.

On Sunday, dozens rallied outside of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.

"Get us results, get us results," said Stuyvesant Town resident Jimmy Walker. "That's what we want."

"If the rents continue to go and escalate this way, what kind of city are we going to have?" said Upper West Side resident Anne Perryman.

She pays about $2,000 a month for her two bedroom, but would be forced out by prices that would surge if the law expired.

"This gave us the life we wanted to live," Perryman said. "I think it's a shame that other people who are like us, that they can't live in this city."

The immediate impact of a lapse would likely be minor. Landlords of rent-regulated units must give notice to tenants about rent increases or evictions.

Cuomo wrote to landlords Sunday threatening that the state would use "every tool at its disposal'' to fight landlords who try to take advantage of tenants if the rules expire Monday without being renewed.

His letter noted that landlords are required to give tenants notice before raising rents or evicting them, and that any extension of the law would be made retroactive if lawmakers can't agree to a deal by Monday's deadline.

"Landlords who improperly attempt to use any brief lapse in the rent stabilization laws to gouge tenants on rents, engage in deceptive business practices, or threaten tenants with eviction due to the lapse, will face enforcement actions to the full extent of the law,'' Cuomo wrote.

NYC Rent Regulation Laws Set To Expire Monday

Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association of NYC, says tenants shouldn't panic.

"Based on history, and this has occurred to people again in 1997, the laws lapsed for over five days and nothing happened and when they finally achieved an agreement, they made it very clear that it was going to be retroactive back to the date that it expired," he told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck. "So we know that and the only people who are attempting to take advantage of it are those who are trying to create unnecessary fear."

Legislation introduced in the Senate late Friday would extend the rules by eight years, but also tighten the rules on verifying that tenants in a rent-stabilized unit meet income eligibility requirements.

In a statement released Sunday, Republican Senate Leader John Flanagan of Long Island said any renewal of the laws "must include meaningful and systemic reforms which eliminate the abuses that exist.''

Cuomo said the proposal is unacceptable because it "poses new hurdles for tenants and it reduces tenant protections.''

The state Assembly voted last month to extend the rent stabilization rules by four years and strengthen the regulations by making it harder for landlords to increase rent on vacant, rent-regulated units.

"The Assembly has been good, they passed a bill that really did strengthen rent regulation," de Blasio said. "The Senate passed a bill that I don't think was a serious effort to address the issue."

Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said Sunday in a statement that "only the Senate is standing in the way'' of passing stronger rent laws.

Heastie also called on the Senate and Cuomo to avoid the temptation to make rent negotiations subject to a grand end-of-session bargain involving unrelated legislative proposals.

When asked by WCBS 880's Rich Lamb how troubled Mayor de Blasio is about the governor's efforts and ow much is personally aimed towards him, de Blasio responded:

"I think when two million people's lives are at stake in the terms of where they are going to live, I don't think this is about relationships between me and the governor.

Time Running Out As Deadline Approaches

Lawmakers may extend the rules as they stand for a short time to allow for more negotiations. They are set to go on break on Wednesday, but Cuomo says he won't allow them to leave until a deal is reached.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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