New York City landlords asking for increase in rent-stabilized apartments

NEW YORK (WABC) -- It is an 'Only in New York' ritual of spring: the annual explosion of anger in a Cooper Union auditorium, that regulated rent is just too high.

New York City landlords are asking for an increase for people in rent-stabilized apartments. The Rent Guidelines Board met Thursday night to consider its preliminary range of rent increases.

"We're not gonna be able to live here," said tenant Carol Cade. "We have to fight! They're making money! Come on."

The battle is always over the smallest of percentage points. The board determines how much landlords can increase rent in more than a million apartments citywide.

In the past three years, it's been frozen twice. Last year rent rose just two percent.

"So when rents are frozen or kept very low, they can't keep up with their operating costs, it becomes very different for owners to choose which part of the building they're going to repair or maintain next," said Vito Signorile of the Rent Stabilization Association, representing the owners.

Thursday night the board rejected a tenant-friendly freeze, instead voting for increases, still as low as under one percent.

Joe Rey, a landlord on Staten Island, was saying that as far as he's concerned that would be the same as a freeze, until a group of tenants walked by and started booing him.

"I don't give a ***," he said. "That's why we don't want to give you an increase because you don't give a ***," a woman in the group said.

Landlords say operating costs have skyrocketed over the past five years while rent has remained stagnant.

The board agreed on a range of .75 percent for a 1-year lease up to 3.75 percent on a 2-year-lease.

The guidelines board will hold a series of public hearings before a final vote in June on the maximum increase landlords can charge tenants in rent-stabilized apartments.

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