Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS
State Senator Joseph Addabbo at a February 2018 press conference.

The Ridgewood Tenants Union (RTU) is putting pressure on lawmakers in Albany to sign onto nine bills that will protect renters through reforms that will close loopholes that lead to deregulated units and other ways neighborhoods become gentrified.

But what are the nine bills on rent reform currently in the state?

For starters, S.4169 would eliminate a statute of limitations for tenants to file rent overcharge complaints in regulated apartments. S.299A would put a cap on the amount a landlord can increase a rent-controlled apartment in relation to a prior lease.

The package of bills would also repeal vacancy decontrol, vacancy bonuses, major capital improvements and individual apartment increases. The bills would also prohibit preferential rent and eviction without “good cause,” while establishing the statewide tenant protection act of 2019.

RTU took aim at state Senator Joseph Addabbo, who has only signed onto three of the nine bills, many of which are still in committee and even provoked a response from Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

“We know you support homeowners in your district, but tenants also need your support and in fact, the small homeowners you support are also being impacted by the housing crisis that is hitting tenants hard,” RTU tweeted at Addabbo on May 28. “Do the right thing and stand with us.”

Addabbo did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but he is already sponsoring three rent reform bills, including the prohibition of preferential rent and eliminating vacancy bonuses and vacancy decontrol.

Heastie responded to a campaign by Housing Justice For All to pass the bills they believe could halt the march of gentrification by saying that their message regarding Assembly’s effort to update rent laws was an attack without grounds.

“Despite the coordinated campaign of misinformation being waged about our position on strengthening rent laws, the Assembly Majority has been and always will be the strongest supporter of tenant protections and we will lead the way once again this year,” Heastie said in a tweet.

The good cause eviction bill will bar landlords from ousting residents if a tenant fails to pay rent because of a rent increase, does not clear a violation within 10 days of a notice, creates a nuisance or damages the property.

Other provisions of the bill state that evictions cannot be authorized unless a tenant is committing a crime for which the landlord can be held accountable, or if a resident is preventing the landlord from entering the unit to make repairs.

The bill would also prevent the landlords from removing more than one tenant in order to accommodate themselves or a relative. This one removal would only be allowed if the tenant is younger than 62 and not disabled.

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