- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 27, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Democrats in the state Senate on Wednesday proposed extending New York City’s rent regulations for two more years and limiting how much a landlord can increase the rent when a rent-stabilized unit becomes vacant.

The suggestion, likely to face significant opposition from the Senate’s Republican majority, is the latest proposal to emerge as the Legislature enters the final weeks of its annual session. Laws governing the long-standing rent regulations in and around New York City expire next month. Lawmakers are expected to renew the law but could vote to strengthen or weaken the rules.

More than 2 million New York City residents live in approximately 1 million rent-stabilized units.

The proposal from the Senate Democrats would extend the rules by two years - until just after the next Senate election. The short extension would give Democrats the power to overhaul the rent rules yet again if they retake the Senate majority in 2016.

The Senate proposal would also restrict rent increases in vacant apartments and repeal a provision in the current law allowing some apartments to be deregulated when they become vacant.

Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers and the leader of the Senate Democrats, said stronger rent regulations are needed to ensure New York City remains a viable home for those of different incomes and backgrounds.

“New York has always been a state where people from all walks of life can set down roots and build strong, stable and diverse communities,” she said.

The state Assembly, led by Democrats, voted last week to extend the rules by four years and make several changes broadly similar to those proposed by the Senate Democrats.

Senate Republicans haven’t yet announce their proposal. The eventual legislation is likely to be negotiated in the final days of the session.

Landlords chafe under the rules, but even critics of the law in the Legislature expect it to be renewed.

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