Albany Common Council votes for vacancy study to be done to consider rent stabilization

Emily De Vito
Updated: December 16, 2019 11:34 PM
Created: December 16, 2019 11:30 PM

ALBANY -- A report by Fiscal Policy Institute says nearly half of Albany tenants are “rent burdened,” which means they’re spending more than a third of their income on rent.

At the city’s Monday night common council meeting the council unanimously voted to look into expanding tenant protections. The council approved a resolution that calls on Mayor Kathy Sheehan to conduct a housing vacancy study. Housing insecurity seems to be a concern among residents. 

"I looked for some family that had to get like $700 or less a month, that's what they could afford, it was like a nightmare trying to find one,” said Sister Honora Kinney of Albany.

The study is done to determine if the city is eligible to opt into the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA). Back in June, the state legislature removed restrictions for rent stabilization. Originally New York City, Westchester, Rockland, and Nassau counties were the only areas where rent stabilization could be done.

“More and more Albany is attracting developers who are developing, all market rate, you have to be earning far and above the average median income and most tenants who are looking for housing are working people,” said resident Rodger Markovics.

Rent stabilization would only apply to buildings with six or more units and that were constructed prior to 1974. One common council member said Monday night it would impact more than 5,000 apartments in the city of Albany. Rent stabilization would not apply to new construction.

At Monday night’s meeting the majority of residents in attendance spoke in favor of the resolution.

"The affordability issue is something that rent control would address,” explained Markovics. “Landlords would still be able to raise rent, but they'd have to get their rents approved."

However not everyone was onboard with the resolution. One resident did not feel rent stabilization would help the city. He offered the solution of providing more rental assistance directly to the consumer.

If the study is done and it finds a less than five percent vacancy rate, then the city can declare an emergency and enact a local law adopting the Emergency Tenant Protection Act. After that is when a rent guidelines board would be created.

To learn more about the Emergency Tenat Protection Act, click here.

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