There are about 150 rental units in the portfolio of Harriet Baldwin’s company, American Capital Real Estate LLC, most of which are located in Chemung County and the City of Elmira. 

In a conversation with Capital Tonight, Baldwin acknowledged the state’s housing crisis, and sympathized with tenants searching for affordable rents. She also expressed hope that lawmakers would revisit some of the 2019 rent reforms passed under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Housing Stability & Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA). 

“It’s time for some fine tuning of HSTPA implementation,” she said. “There are a few things in there that have been counter-productive for both property owners and residents.”

One example: She would like to see an expansion of the one-month limit on security deposits. Her explanation is that if someone has bad credit, but enough cash to pay several months up front, landlords might be more open to renting him or her. 

Regarding Gov. Hochul’s New York Housing Compact, a proposal to create 800,000 new housing units across the state, Baldwin said the governor is on the right track. 

“There’s a housing crisis. People from all sides of the spectrum understand that,” she said. “It’s great that the governor has brought attention to the housing situation in New York.”

According to Baldwin, landlords and tenants are entering a new normal. 

“Due to the pandemic, our ability to enforce our lease terms was a little lax for a while,” she said. “Navigating that has some challenges for landlords and our residents.”

Specifically, Baldwin said there are not enough units, and because many tenants are behind on rent, it’s been difficult to keep up with maintenance. 

She is also a proponent of updating the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). 

“Now that COVID is still an issue, but not quite as much of a crisis, I think that a new program would be much more welcome than a continuation of ERAP,” she said. 

Instead of rental assistance, Baldwin recommends looking at state-based rental vouchers. 

“It’s not easy to be a resident in New York right now,” Baldwin said. “We have added fewer units that most other places in the country.”