Union Explains Statewide Tenant Reforms at Workshop

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Tenant activists Michael McKee and Anita Long speak at a workshop about new tenant protections passed by the state legislature at a workshop sponsored by DC 37’s Municipal Employees Legal Services. Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera

By MIKE LEE

The hard-won, historic changes to New York’s rent regulation laws have raised many questions about the new rights and benefits tenants now have under the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 passed by the state Legislature.

DC 37’s Municipal Employees Legal Services (MELS) stepped up to help answer these questions at a recent workshop attended by more than 100 members.

“There are more than a 100 pages of changes in the new law,” explained supervising attorney John Bart. “These are changes that benefit our members.”

Tenant rights activists and organizers Michael McKee and Anita Long briefed the audience on the efforts to push Albany to pass these reforms.

This effort reversed a decades-long trend of legislation wedded to big-money real estate interests.

Among the legislation’s many reforms:

  • Ending “vacancy increases,” which landlords used to raise rents on rent-regulated apartments by 20 percent.
  • Requiring landlords to notify tenants on non-payment, thus creating a defense for tenants if the landlord fail to provide notice.
  • Protecting tenants who are given notice of non-renewal or rent increases of more than 5 percent.
  • Courts may now issue stays on warrants for up to one year in landlord-tenant proceedings, including stays to cure a breach of a lease expands from 10 days to 30 days.

Another important change involves Major Capital Improvements (MCI). These increases, used by landlords to charge additional rent for improvements, were overhauled. Landlords now cannot charge an MCI unless the building is clear of major building violations. MCIs must expire after 30 years and the payment structure for charges was extended and reduced.

If you are a DC 37 member who wants more information about how the new tenant law will help you, or need help on a tenant-landlord case, MELS is there for you. Please call 212.815.1111 for an appointment.

“MELS attorneys are in court every day,” MELS Director Bill Whalen said. “Last month alone we handled more than 386 court appearances to stop evictions of DC 37 members.”

 

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