Cuomo, Legislative Leaders Agree To Take Up Short-Term Extension


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Negotiations over the renewal of New York City’s now-expired rent regulations will continue through the weekend and into next week, as New York state lawmakers struggle to strike a deal that would revive the rules and bring a difficult legislative session to a close.

The state Senate and Assembly worked through a long list of unrelated bills Thursday as top lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo worked to find an agreement on the rent law, the session’s thorniest issue.

Legislative leaders and Cuomo agreed late Thursday to extend the old rules for five days — until Tuesday — when they hope a compromise will be ready for legislative consideration. Both the Senate and the Assembly planned to take up the short-term extension Thursday night.

“Negotiations… are moving in a positive direction toward a resolution,” said a statement issued by Cuomo, Senate Leader John Flanagan (R-Smithtown) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-The Bronx).

The rent law, which restricts rent increases for more than 2 million tenants in 1 million apartments in and around New York City, expired Monday at midnight after the Senate and the Assembly failed to reach a compromise.

The Assembly’s Democratic majority supports strengthening the law, while the Republican-led Senate passed legislation that would add income and residency verifications to ensure tenants aren’t cheating the system by living in rent-controlled and rent-stabilized apartments they aren’t eligible for.

Lawmakers had hoped to strike a deal this week but on Thursday announced lawmakers would head home for the weekend and return to Albany on Tuesday, for what could be the session’s final day.

The agreement to pass a short-term extension of the rules is the clearest indication yet that Heastie, Flanagan and Cuomo are making progress in finding a compromise. Before the rules expired, the Assembly passed legislation to extend them for another two days _ a proposal the Senate did not take up.

Flanagan said the Senate isn’t giving up on its proposal, which he said would ensure that rent-controlled and rent-stabilized apartments go to tenants that need them.

“This short extender is intended to pave the way to a permanent solution,” he said of the five-day renewal.

Earlier Thursday, at least 30 people staged a sleep-in outside Cuomo’s Manhattan offices, demanding a deal to extend the rent regulation laws

Local leaders including the Manhattan and Brooklyn borough presidents were among those who camped out overnight on the sidewalk on Third Avenue.

“Frustration is probably a little bit too nice of a word right now,” Esteban Girón of the Crown Heights Tenant Union said. “We’re used to gridlock in Albany, we know that happens, but we know what Gov. Cuomo can do and he’s not doing it. What he’s saying publicly is not matching the fact that there’s no action happening.”

“The governor started out with a record of passing some very difficult legislation, when you have that string of victories people expect for you to show the same leadership with the top priority in the city,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said. “Food, shelter, clothing is the foundation of America’s life.”

The expiration of the rent laws wasn’t expected to have a significant impact for now. Landlords of rent-regulated units must give notice to tenants about rent increases or evictions, and Cuomo said the state will go after landlords who exploit the law’s expiration.

Still, many lawmakers from New York City say they have received numerous calls from tenants worried about what the expiration might mean. A short-term renewal will give the tenants some measure of confidence that the rules will continue, according to Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan).

“It’s a feeling of insecurity,” she said. A short-term renewal, she said “gives us more time to get a good deal.”

Senate Republicans want income verification to ensure that tenants are eligible for rent protections. Assembly Democrats reject that; they want more protections for tenants.

Any agreement is likely to involve either a short-term extension of the current rules or a longer extension that contains some changes sought by both sides.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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