In rent regulation fight, it’s not just Democrats vs. Republicans


In rent regulation fight, it’s not just Democrats vs. Republicans

The GOP was the go-to ally for landlords and developers. But it’s always more complicated.
June 2, 2019

The war over rent regulations has long been waged between Democrats and Republicans. The state’s last Republican governor, George Pataki, threatened to eliminate tenant protections entirely. State Senate Republicans, who hail mostly from upstate but enjoyed the backing of New York City’s real estate titans, scaled back rent regulations while they were in control. Now that Democrats have seized all the levers of power in Albany, lawmakers this month are poised to not only renew but strengthen protections for downstate tenants.

The divide isn’t strictly partisan, however. There have always been Democratic lawmakers that work well with Big Real Estate, from former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to former state Senate Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein. Before the “blue wave” crushed their Senate Republican allies last year, the influential Real Estate Board of New York spread its money around to Democratic state senators. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is the biggest beneficiary of the industry’s largesse. And while the governor and Democratic lawmakers agree on some major legislative proposals – like ending vacancy decontrol – intraparty disagreements remain about how far to go in favor of tenants.

This week, City & State takes a closer look at this year’s rent regulation fight by digging into the policy debate, reviewing the proposals on the table and assessing which ones might actually pass.

Jon Lentz
is City & State’s former editor-in-chief.