Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal discusses the package of bills at a pre-hearing rally. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Politicians left no doubt that the balance of power in Albany has unquestionably shifted during a hearing of the New York State Assembly last week.
At the heart of the debate was the understanding that a package of tenant-friendly legislation stands a good chance of being passed in June, following last November’s elections that turned the previously industry-friendly State Senate blue.
At one point, Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side, turned her attention to a panel of real estate professionals who were there to give testimony.
“How much money have you used to influence our laws?”, she asked.
When none answered, Rosenthal told them, “You’ve had a lot of friends in Albany over the years. Now you have fewer friends.”
Earlier in the hearing, Paimaan Lodhi, senior vice president of policy and planning for the Real Estate Board of New York, cautioned that the city’s housing stock would deteriorate as a result of the bills’ passage.
However, he said the industry is in favor of passing rent regulations that “increase transparency that protects the public from a few bad actors.”
But Rosenthal told the room, “We have many good bills and we are going to pass them. There is no reason why tenants shouldn’t be protected. You guys get tax breaks. In return, you have obligations you have not met. How come so many landlords fail to register their rent-regulated units?”
In response, Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, said the RSA encourages its members to resister their units, warning there are consequences if they don’t. He then said there should be more enforcement mechanisms and countered there wasn’t “an upside” to trying to game the system.