Friday, December 22, 2023

Gov. signed S.2980 Frankensteining bill into law!


On Friday, Dec. 22nd, the late afternoon, Governor Hochul signed S.2980C/A.6216B into law.  That law means that landlords have less incentive to hold vacant rent-stabilized apartments off the market.  

  • All combined ("Frankensteined")  apartments any part of which used to be rent stabilized will be rent stabilized. 
  • The new rent will be a combination of the last legal rent in each apartment. 
  • Landlords must keep records of the original apartments in case tenants need to challenge the new rents.
  • Landlords who harassed tenants out to get those apartments vacant in the first place can't raise the rent. 
  • [Click on Read More below for more details about this bill.]

Many landlords have been warehousing rent-stabilized units since one of the few remaining loopholes letting them raise rents VERY high was "Frankensteining" them - combining some rent-stabilized space with other space, rent-stabilized or not.  

But, thanks to all the wonderful tenants in this building who called Governor Hochul, along with the tenants in other buildings who did the same,  and a LOT of campaigning and hard work by 

  • the Coalition to End Apartment Warehousing (we're a member, as part of Stellar Tenants for Affordable Housing) and 
  • Housing Justice for All (we're also a member of that umbrella group), 
the Governor signed the bill into law. 

Thanks to State Senate Housing Committee Chair Brian Kavanagh and Assembly Housing Committee Chair Linda Rosenthal who co-sponsored and championed the bill - and thanks to the Governor for signing it.

The bill has 5 parts:
  • Frankensteining:  rents capped and new units to be stabilized
  • Succession: If the tenant of record leaves the apartment but keeps signing the lease or paying the rent in order to help her grown kids living there, there's no fraud; the date the tenant of record left is her actual departure date for "succession" purposes
  • Substantial rehabilitation:  Landlords can't simply claim they have substantially rehabilitated a building as a basis for taking it out of rent regulation. They need DHCR permission and must show the building needed the work and that it was done. 
  • Fraud: The definition of "fraud" for the purpose of overcharge claims is now clarified. 
  • Rent registration: Landlords can't collect rent increases for rent-stabilized apartments they fail to register.  If DHCR asks them to register and they refuse, they face stiff fines. 

The governor vetoed S.2943 (a bill on calculating overcharges dating from before 2019) and no word yet on how she came down on the LLC (limited liability company) transparency law, S.995.

So we have a victory for the new year!