The city’s rent-stabilized apartments will soon be subject to a rent increase of between 0.5 percent and 2.75 percent for one-year leases, the Rent Guidelines Board decided Tuesday at a clamorous public meeting.
At the one-hour preliminary vote at Cooper Union, the Rent Guidelines Board—a nine-member body made up of four public members, a chair, as well as a pair each of tenant and owner representatives— also approved a measure that allows two-year leases to be raised by between 1.5 and 3.5 percent.
After the rent-increase ranges put forward by tenant and owner representatives were voted down, David Reiss, the board’s chair, proposed an amount between the two sides’ asks, which passed by the slim margin of 5-4. The board will on June 25 take a final vote on the exact allowable rate that will apply to the city’s 1 million rent-stabilized apartments—a rate likely within the range set Tuesday evening that will take effect Oct. 1.
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The vote comes as the state legislatures takes up rent laws in Albany, where a newly emboldened Democratic legislative majority is considering ambitious rent-regulation reforms in a push for a nine-bill package being called Universal Rent Control by its proponents.
As is the norm, the hearing was boisterous, with rent-stabilized tenants and advocates rallying behind a rent freeze before the event began, followed by many of the attendees mercilessly heckling the owner representative’s every word.
“Fight, fight, fight, housing is a right” the crowd chanted ahead of the vote. “What do we want? A rent freeze! When do we want it? Now!”
“We cannot afford an increase, and we want to be able to stay in our neighborhoods,” said tenant Gloria Castillo.
But of course not everyone was there to push for a rent freeze.
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Tenants and coalition members showed up loud and ready to fight for a Rent Rollback today at the Rent Guidelines Board preliminary vote. We wanted a rollback- the preliminary vote did not give us that. We will show up to every hearing to make our demands clear- NO RENT HIKES; HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT!
Patti Stone, an owner representative, said that while she recognizes the city’s housing is increasingly unaffordable for many, the responsibility for addressing that is “at the doorsteps of the mayor’s and governor’s offices, and not on the shoulders of owners of rent-regulated housing.”
“Owners are people who invest their hard-earned money in the buildings to run as a business to support their families,” she said, prompting jeers and assorted shouted retorts. “We live in a capitalist society, where people go into business to earn a profit, not just to break even.”
Stone went on to cite increases in the minimum wage, property taxes, union wages, and overall operating costs to make the case that a rent increase is needed, saying owners have in recent years been “undercompensated.”
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"Rollback the rent." That was the message many tenants gave the city's Rent Guidelines Board on Tuesday at a preliminary vote on possible rent hikes for rent-stabilized apartments. Instead, board's preliminary vote called for: . A half-percent to 2.75 percent increase on one-year leases. . A 1.75 to 3.75 percent increase on two-year leases. . Landlords had proposed a 3.75 to 5.75 percent increase on one-year leases and a 4.75 to 6.75 increase on two-year leases. Tenants proposed a half-percent increase for one-years and a 0 to 1 percent increase for two-years. Last year, the board approved hikes of 1.5 percent on one-year leases and a 2.5 percent on two-year leases. . Any increases will affect lease renewals that start in October. A final vote is scheduled for June 25. See link in bio to learn more.
“The facts that we have been provided with clearly establish that owners are entitled to an increase in guidelines,” said Stone. “The mayor keeps issuing new local laws which increase owners’ costs.”
The crowd wasn’t convinced.
“They make a lot of money!” shouted one woman. “You make a lot of money, you buy more properties and tenants live in the worst conditions ever. … They know they’re not broke!”
Stone then proposed a range of rent increases of between 3.75 percent and 5.75 percent for one-year leases, and 4.75 percent-6.75 percent for two-year leases—a motion which was voted down, with just the two owner representatives giving the thumbs up for the proposal.
A tenant board member, Sheila Garcia, later countered with a rent rollback. Specifically, -0.50% to 0 percent for one-year leases and 0 percent to 1 percent for two-year leases.
“Our mandate is not to make sure landlords continue to profit; it is to simulate a fair market,” said Garcia.
“People right now can barely afford to live in New York,” said Leah Goodridge, the other tenant representative. “We are living in a housing crisis. It’s a crisis when most of the people who do the jobs for the city, to help the city run, cannot afford to live in the city.”
She added that many people she knew growing up have moved away, “not because they don’t like New York but because apparently New York doesn’t like them.”
“For those reasons, and many more, we are proposing a rent rollback,” she said, sparking loud applause from most in the audience.
The tenants’ rent-adjustment proposal didn’t pass, either, getting voted down 6-3. Following the board’s thumbs down, Reiss, the Rent Guidelines Board chair, then had his middle-of-the-road motion approved, sparking outcry from from tenant advocates and the more than 100 attendees, many chanting “shame“ in response.
“We are disappointed that tenants aren’t getting more support from the Rent Guidelines Board,” said Jodie Leidecker of the Cooper Square Committee, in an interview. “We know there’s been an increase in homelessness and people who are rent-burdened.”
“We are seeing the effects of a housing crisis and we see everyday that tenants are literally being priced out of the city and it’s unfortunate,” Goodridge told Bedford + Bowery. “We hope that, by the final vote, there will be something [proposed] that’s more affordable for tenants.”