A bill calling for the eventual phasing out of the city's present rent control law and granting landlords immediate rent in creases ranging from 2 to 9 per cent has been introduced by city Council member Nadine Winter.
Winter, a one-time rent control champion, said she intends to hold no public hearings on the bill. The council's housing committee, which she heads, will hold its first markup session on the bill today at 2 p.m.
Winter said she hopes the five-member committee will act on her bill, or a substitute, in about two weeks and that the full council will take action on the legislation by June 14. Council observers said the bill's chances of passage appear good because many council members have become disillusioned with the side effects of rent control.
The bill has been marked rush by Winter because the city's present rent control law expires on Oct. 31, according to Cynthia Matthews, executive assistant to the council member. Rent control currently covers most of the city's 180,000 apartment units.
After the mayor and council have agreed on a bill it must layover in the Congress for 30 legislative days. Days on which both the House and the Senate meet become scarce during the summer months.
THe bill represents a major departure from the rent control laws which have been in effect in the city since 1973 because it calls for an end to rent control.
Under the bill, the city's rent control office must give the city council a plan by July 1, 1979 for gradual decontrol. A year later high rent units (which the rent control office must define) would be decontrolled. All other city apartment units would be decontrolled only when the city's vacancy rate reaches 4 per cent or more.
Once the bill is enacted, however, landlords would be allowed an immediate and automatic increase. Automative increases would follow each succeeding year. The allowable increases would be based on the number of utilities paid for by the landlord.
Two per cent for apartments where the landlord provides no fuel or utilities, and 1 per cent each additional year.
Six per cent where the landlord provides heat and hot water, and 3 per cent each following year.
Seven per cent where the landlord pays for heat, hot water and electricity, and 3.5 per cent each succeeding year.
Eight per cent where the landlord furnishes heat, hot water, electricity and cooking fuel, and 4 per cent each additional year.
Nine per cent where the landlord provides all fuel and utilities plus air conditioning, and 4.5 per cent each following year.
Council member David A. Clarke (D-1), a housing committee member, whose ward is heavily populated with tenants, said he is troubled by provisions in the bill calling for decontrol and automatic increases for landlords.
"If the vacancy rate is low and you decontrol, the rents can go sky high and I wouldn't want that and I'm reluctant to vote to decontrol rents without having that information" about the vacancy rate, Clarke said.
Officials of the city's housing department have said they do not have data giving the vacancy rate, Clarke said.
The councilmember said that instead of automatic increases he preferred establishing a minimum rate of return for landlords then allowing them to raise rents if the rate falls below this minimum.
But he added that automatic increases might ?ease the administrative load of the rent administration" and allow the rent control office to direct more attention to other tenant problems.
Currently the office has a backlog of about 200 cases which are primarily petitions from landlords asking for rent increases.
The other major change in the bill is the removal of the provision that landlords who wish to substantially rehabilitate their bhildings must receive prior approval from the rent control administrator.
Most provision of the current law remain, including:
A formula allowing landlords an 8 per cent rate of return, and not allowing mortgage payments to be included in the computation of the rate of return.
Allowing tenants to petition for rent decreases if the maintenance levels in their buildings are decreased.
Winter introduced the bill a few days after a private study commissioned by the city recommended abolition of rent control, citing deterioration of building maintenance and stagnation of apartment construction as major results of rent control.
Lorenzo Jacobs, director of the city's housing department, which commissioned the $660,000 study, has said he not only supports elimination of rent control but recommended that decontrol begin next year wtih completion by July 1, 1980.
The study has not been released by the agency.