Tenants in New York are facing a serious new threat to the rent protection laws. Gov. George Pataki’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal has issued sweeping revisions to the regulations that put landlords in a much stronger position. DHCR failed to involve tenants in the process of drafting the new regulations, and clearly exceeded its authority by making changes that only the State Legislature is empowered to execute.
Among the most damaging provisions:
- When a rent-stabilized apartment is vacated, the legal regulated rent will be that “agreed to” by the landlord and the next rent-stabilized tenant.
- Landlords will have a greatly expanded ability to evict rent-regulated tenants for personal use of the apartment by the landlord or landlord’s family, for non-primary residence, or for “luxury” decontrol.
- Tenants will have to hire an engineer or architect to be able to oppose Major Capital Improvement applications effectively, or to pursue “decrease in services” complaints.
- Landlords are allowed to collect rent increases even when services are not provided.
Write or call Gov. Pataki and tell him to throw out the DHCR revisions to the regulations and start the process over again with proper tenant input. He can be reached in Albany at the Executive Chamber, State Capitol, Albany, NY 12224, (518) 474-8390, or in New York City at 633 Third Ave., 38th Floor, New York NY 10017, (212) 681-4580.
Before adjourning on June 23, the State Legislature passed the Physican’s Profiling bill, making it mandatory to publish a physician’s professional history, and a “whistleblower” protection bill to protect health care professionals and workers from retaliation by health plans and employers if they advocate on behalf of necessary care for their patients.
Important legislation that was not enacted includes a “Medicaid Buy-In” bill which would make it possible for people with disabilities to retain Medicaid coverage when they go back to work, and a bill to reinstitute public hearings before health insurance premiums can be raised.
On June 30 the House of Representatives passed a bill that would exempt doctors from antitrust laws so that they can bargain collectively with insurance companies over fees and other issues, enabling them to provide more adequate care for their patients. While several senators have expressed support for the bill, there is not yet a Senate sponsor.
Democratic members of Congress have been seeking to expand Medicare to offer prescription drug coverage. But the Republican bill that the House recently passed would provide coverage through HMOs and new private “Prescription Drug Plans.” Critics point out that, while the Democratic Bill would cover all seniors and people with disabilities who lack drug coverage, the Republican plan is likely to cover less than half of them. Expanding the Medicare program to include a drug benefit would provide all beneficiaries with the option of a reliable benefit, while benefits under the Republican plan would vary. It’s estimated that seniors would pay 50 percent more for coverage that, on average, would be 20 percent less valuable.
Congress will take August off and return right after Labor Day. They will then adjourn in October. But even when legislators are not be in session, it is extremely important to be in touch with them – to keep our issues on the front burner and keep our representatives aware of what we expect from them. At the federal level, for example, legislation on a Patient’s Bill of Rights is stuck in conference. Three committees of the New York State Assembly are studying bills to address the high cost of prescription drugs.
You can help move forward these issues, and the ones described above. Write, call or e-mail your representatives while they are in their district offices in August. For information on how to reach them, call (212) 240-4802, ext. 176.