ALBANY — The conflict over New York City’s rent laws turned raucous on Tuesday as hundreds of tenant activists flooded the State Capitol, leading to scuffles and dozens of arrests.
For months, activists have cast a looming rewrite of New York’s rent laws as a once-in-a-generation battle.
The state law that regulates almost one million rent-stabilized apartments expires on June 15. With Democrats in control of the Legislature for only the third time in more than half a century, progressive lawmakers are pushing for tenant-friendly provisions.
The activists, dressed in matching red T-shirts, crowded onto stairs, jammed hallways and blocked the entrances to the governor’s office and legislative chambers.
Some banged on the glass doors to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office while state troopers stood guard; others linked arms and refused to allow lobbyists and staff members through to the Senate and Assembly chambers.
“All nine bills,” they shouted, their chants reverberating through the building.
They were referring to nine renter-friendly bills — collectively known as “universal rent control” — that have been vigorously pushed for by a statewide coalition for months.
“This is something that is so huge, which is why you’re seeing so many people here and so militant,” said Jeanie Dubnau, 80, a member of the Riverside Edgecombe Neighborhood Association in Washington Heights.
There were several commotions. At one point, a group of men trying to enter the Senate chambers reached over the shoulders of a group of activists who were blocking the entrance, trying to pull the doors open as the activists strained to keep them shut.
Near the Assembly, state troopers and activists pushed each other as the troopers tried to advance through the crowd.
In all, 61 people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Among them was Jumaane Williams, the New York City public advocate and a former tenant organizer.
Two of the people arrested were also charged with third-degree assault for striking the Assembly sergeant-at-arms, according to a spokesman for the state troopers.
The leaders of the Assembly have said they support eight of the bills. The Senate leadership had stayed mostly mum until Tuesday, when they issued a statement almost immediately after the protests wound down.
“Following a long discussion within the Senate Majority Conference, it is clear that we have support for all nine priority housing bills,” Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the majority leader of the Senate, said. “We must use that time to work with our partners to pass the strongest housing protections in state history.”
But activists said they remained concerned that the bills would be watered down. They have been especially critical of Mr. Cuomo, who has received millions of dollars in political contributions from the real estate industry and recently said he did not support some of the proposed measures.
Protesters, lining the Capitol’s central staircase, tossed down fake $100 bills printed with the faces of Mr. Cuomo and several prominent real estate industry leaders.
Mr. Cuomo has spent the past few days attacking the Senate, accusing it of touting progressive rhetoric but not delivering. On Tuesday, soon after Ms. Stewart-Cousins released her statement, the governor’s office fired back.
“You know a legislative body has the votes for a piece of legislation when they pass the bill,” Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Mr. Cuomo, said. “If the Senate has the votes, they should pass the bills today.”
The activists have been calling for just that, urging Ms. Stewart-Cousins and the Assembly leader, Carl E. Heastie, to exclude Mr. Cuomo from negotiations and pass their own rent packages.
They repeated that call on Tuesday, singling out the legislative leaders in a marked escalation from their previous rhetoric: In addition to signs denouncing Mr. Cuomo, the protesters also carried signs challenging Mr. Heastie and Ms. Stewart-Cousins to choose between landlords and families.
Advocates support eliminating two provisions that allow landlords to raise rents when they make building-wide improvements or renovate apartments — arguing that these tactics are routinely used to jack up rents, push out tenants and deregulate units.
But Mr. Cuomo, as well as Mayor Bill de Blasio, have cautioned that abolishing those provisions would deter building owners from investing in buildings, echoing similar arguments that have been made by the real estate lobby. Both have said they support tweaking the provisions instead.
Despite the uncertain fate over some of the proposals, lawmakers are poised to pass many that advocates previously thought unimaginable when the Senate was controlled by Republicans, who have traditionally allied themselves with the real estate lobby.
When the rent regulations last expired in 2015, Republicans resisted the elimination of the so-called vacancy decontrol, which still allows for the deregulation of an apartment when it becomes vacant and its rent passes a certain threshold.
Critics have called for its elimination because it has led to the deregulation of more than 155,000 units since 1994.
This time, there’s almost unanimous agreement — even within the real estate industry — that the notorious provision will be scrapped.
Several hours after the protesters first arrived, most had cleared out.
But a group of about a dozen remained seated outside the governor’s office, chatting quietly and raising their voices to chant when people passed by.
At one point, some troopers appeared on the stairwell above.
“Will you arrest us already?” one protester called out.