Newly created county boards could limit apartment rent increases in upstate municipalities like the City of Newburgh under a state law set to be approved this week.

One part of an extensive revision of rent regulations finalized by lawmakers on Tuesday was a statewide extension of rent-stabilization rules long in effect in New York City and in municipalities in the suburban counties of Rockland, Westchester and Nassau that chose to participate. The new law would grant that same option to any place in New York that has a housing vacancy rate of less than 5 percent.

The Newburgh and Kingston city councils already have passed resolutions supporting the legislation, although those cities and any others that are interested would have to do studies to determine if their vacancy rates are low enough to qualify.

Under existing state law, a county must assemble a nine-member "rent guidelines board" once a municipality has declared a housing emergency because its vacancy rate is below 5 percent. That board would then set annual percentage increases for apartment rents in buildings in that municipality that were built earlier than 1974 and have six or more units. The emergency and those restrictions would cease if the vacancy rate rises above 5 percent.

Boards would consist of two tenant representatives, two landlord representatives and five people with experience in finance, economics and housing. Members are appointed by the state based on recommendations from the county Legislature, which must identify its candidates within 30 days of a municipality declaring a housing emergency.

In Westchester County, 18 municipalities have adopted rent stabilization. Nassau County has 14 participating municipalities, and Rockland has two — Haverstraw and Spring Valley.

How vacancy rates are measured under the law and which local municipalities are eligible was not immediately clear. The Census Bureau's estimates of rental vacancy rates from 2013 to 2017 were 8.3 percent for the City of Newburgh and 4.2 percent for the City of Kingston. Two other cities in Orange County — Middletown and Port Jervis — had rental vacancy rates of 6.4 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively.

State law lists several factors that county rent boards must consider in weighing annual rent adjustments, including local property-tax and water and sewer rates; building operating costs; the overall housing supply; and local cost-of-living increases. The law appears to indicate that boards can allow no rent increase at all.

Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey applauded the prospect of rent regulations on Wednesday, saying it was time to tilt power from the landlords to their tenants. He doubted the new rules would chill costly building renovations and redevelopment, but acknowledged that was a possibility.

Harvey also said that he and the council plan to create a tenant advisory board to field grievances and concerns and then advocate on behalf of tenants, shielding them from possible retribution.

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, the Kingston Democrat who sponsored the bill to offer statewide rent regulations, declined to comment on it or answer questions about its application on Wednesday.

Staff writer Lana Bellamy contributed to this report.

cmckenna@th-record.com