Taking a Rent Check

Senate switch has tenant activists despondent over rent-stabilization change, but landlords hold the Champagne.

Regardless, the past few months had seen noticeable efforts from both tenant activists and landlord groups, efforts that, presumably, will be suspended.

Both the Rent Stabilization Association and REBNY had made this a top lobbying priority in Albany, taking the position that rent regulations should be dealt with when the law expires in 2011—not earlier. They had called for extra contributions from members for the issue, according to individuals from the organizations, and both groups hired the Bronx-based political operative Stanley Schlein to lobby on the issue. The RSA had commissioned a study to show the deleterious effects on the construction industry that added regulation could have, and held a luncheon honoring Pedro Espada, the Bronx Democrat who led this week’s revolt.

On the part of tenant activists, the efforts started years ago, by helping to get Democrats control of the Senate, as few if any of their major housing bills ever made it through the Legislature with Republicans in control. Starting after the November election, the groups began calling voters in districts of state senators who had not signed on to a repeal of vacancy decontrol, and went door-to-door on numerous weekends in those legislators’ districts.

As to just how close things were to passing, Mr. Strasburg said uncertainty was rampant.

“Clearly, we were not sure,” he said. “Nobody had a great level of comfort one way or another because the leadership—[Senator] Malcolm Smith—never articulated publicly what he supported or didn’t support.”


Taking a Rent Check