Increased Safeguards for Tenants in New York, Come as Other State Legislatures Consider Limiting Rent Increases

Last week, Wall Street Journal writers Will Parker and Jimmy Vielkind reported that, “In passing a sweeping overhaul of rent laws on Friday, New York state lawmakers gave a boost to a movement among state capitals to try to address rental-housing affordability.

“The New York legislation brings increased power to tenants in roughly one million rent-regulated apartments in New York City. It makes it more difficult for the owners of those apartments to increase rents, while enabling more tenants to sue landlords for rent overcharges. Also, tenants around the state will have more protections against eviction.

Proposals to limit rents are advancing in a number of state legislatures, including in California, where a statewide cap on rent passed the California Assembly in May, and in Oregon, which passed the nation’s first statewide rent control in February, limiting annual rent increases to 7% plus local inflation.”

The Journal article noted that, “The wave of policies isn’t an exclusively blue state phenomenon: The Republican-controlled Georgia state Legislature passed a bill in March protecting tenants who complain about poor building conditions from being evicted in retaliation.

Rent has become an important part of the conversation early in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination. A handful of 2020 Democratic hopefuls have released rent-policy proposals. Most recently, Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) this month floated a federal tax credit to help renters struggling with housing affordability.”

Last week’s article also pointed out that, “New York state Sen. Mike Gianaris, a Democrat from Queens who voted in favor of the bill, said the lack of affordable housing needed to be a part of a national conversation, pointing to San Francisco, Seattle and urban centers along the East Coast as proof of the lack of affordable housing.

Without any changes, he said, ‘We’ll be living in a world where the very wealthy are occupying the city centers and the people who have less means will be traveling hours back and forth just to get to work.'”

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