Rent Guidelines Board passes preliminary 1st vote on NYC rent-stabilized apartments

Wednesday, May 3, 2023
Rent Guidelines Board proposes hikes for stabilized apartments
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Anthony Carlo has more on the Rent Guidelines Board's proposed hikes.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Frustrations reached a boiling point as the Rent Guidelines Board passed a preliminary first vote on one-year and two-year leases for rent-stabilized apartments in New York City.

The preliminary vote passed 5-4 on Tuesday night, advancing a range of proposed rent hikes ahead of a final vote scheduled for June 21.

The potential adjustment could increase rent 2-5% for one-year leases and 4-7% for two-year leases.

Landlords and tenant advocates increased the pressure on the board ahead of the vote on Tuesday, and at one point, tenants and organizers even jumped onto the stage and protested around the table where the board members presided.

Tenants drowning in debt decided to drown out the board.

"The pandemic had us down for so long," tenant Claristine Gardner said. "How could we afford our increase right now? Most of us don't have jobs."

Joining the civil disobedience was New York City Councilmember Sandy Nurse, who says her landlord is trying to push her rent-stabilized apartment to market value.

"Tonight is about sending a message that New York City tenants cannot take it anymore," she said.

There are more than a million rent-controlled and rent-stabilized apartments in the city.

Despite the deep divide between tenants and landlords, they actually have a lot in common. Both are feeling the sting of inflation. Both suffered during COVID: from landlords not receiving full rent to tenants not working. And on the board itself, those tenants and those representing landlords all voted against the proposed increases.

Clearly one side found the hikes too high, while the other found it too low.

Landlords say they need the money to deal with the rising cost of building repairs, property taxes, and energy bills.

"It's almost impossible to maintain a building as it should be, a safe sound building as it should be, and give the tenants what they deserve," said landlord Michael Laub.

Both landlords and their tenants are being pummeled by a common enemy: inflation.

"Property taxes, utility bills, insurance premiums. All of these must be paid all the time. They're not optional," said Michael Tobman of the Rent Stabilization Landlord Association. "It's unfortunate that the Rent Guidelines Board didn't follow their own data in proposing ranges far below what is necessary to maintain stabilized buildings."

The average household income for rent-stabilized tenants is $44,000, according to city estimates, making any kind of rent hike tough to swallow.

Mayor Eric Adams' office released a statement saying in part, "I want to be clear that a 7% rent increase is clearly beyond what renters can afford and what I feel is appropriate this year."

Last year, the board ultimately voted to raise rents on one-year leases by 3.25% and on two-year leases by 5%. That was the highest increase for rent-stabilized apartments in almost a decade.

Ultimately, the decision will impact nearly 2 million New Yorkers.

ALSO READ | Report finds 50% of working-age New Yorkers don't earn enough to meet basic needs

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