Community Service Society
By #UnequalCities Network members Oksana Mironova and Jeff Jones
Abstract: This is a pivotal time for the future of the rental housing market in New York City, as the state’s rent stabilization law, which protects about a million households, comes up for renewal in June 2019. The current law is characterized by loopholes that undermine the effectiveness of the rent stabilization system to protect tenants’ rights. Over the past 25 years, legislative decisions by the city and state have weakened rent regulation, encouraging tenant harassment and allowing for sudden and permanent rent hikes. The same loopholes create an environment where fraud is rampant. The vacancy bonus, Major Capital Improvements (MCI), Individual Apartment Improvements (IAIs), preferential rents, and vacancy decontrol all work in tandem to push out low-income tenants and undermine neighborhood-level stability. New York City has lost 291,000 stabilized units since 1994. The evidence is overwhelming. We need to close the loopholes in the rent stabilization law. The following six case studies are based on real tenant rent histories. They illustrate the way loopholes interact to drive up stabilized rents, undermining the rent regulation system.