A move towards rent stabilization, the Nyack Village Board has unanimously voted to adopt measures under New York’s Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA) for apartment buildings constructed before 1974 and containing 25 or more units. This decision came after a year of extensive deliberations and testimonies from both landlords and renters within the one-square-mile village.
Outgoing Mayor Don Hammond expressed his concern about the community’s well-being, highlighting the need to manage rent increases as a crucial factor in preserving the village’s diverse population. “We are losing part of our community,” Hammond remarked, emphasizing the urgency of the situation.
The law responds to alarming trends in the rental market, including exorbitant rent increases and deteriorating living conditions, as described by residents like Christina Farrell, who has seen her rent nearly double over the years. Legal Aid Society’s Alexander Bursztein underscored the severity of the situation, noting the detrimental impact of unchecked rent hikes on community diversity.
The ETPA, a part of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, allows municipal governments in New York State to declare a housing emergency for certain classes of buildings with vacancy rates below 5 percent. The Village of Nyack’s decision is tailored to alleviate the burden on smaller landlords, focusing on larger buildings with more than 25 units.
A recent rent survey conducted by Village Administrator Andy Stewart revealed a vacancy rate of 4.55 percent in nine surveyed buildings, a clear indicator of the housing crisis. Mayor-elect Joe Rand further supported this with data showing significant increases in rental prices over the past five years.
However, the decision has met with resistance from landlords and trade groups. Timothy Foley of The Building & Realty Institute criticized the ETPA as an outdated solution, arguing that it could lead to disinvestment in properties.
The ETPA imposes restrictions like annual rent increase limits and maintenance requirements. It also offers tenants rights like fixed rental adjustments on lease renewals. Landlords fear that such measures could discourage property maintenance and upgrades.
To address these concerns, the Village Board has provided exemptions for buildings entirely covered by Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program or those whose owners enter into agreements with the Village to address the housing emergency in a satisfactory manner.
Nyack’s initiative follows similar actions in New York, like Kingston and Croton on Hudson, in adopting ETPA measures. The move stands as a response to the broader affordable housing crisis in Rockland County and reflects a growing trend in New York municipalities seeking to balance the needs of residents and property owners amidst a challenging rental market.