‘Low’ rent hikes on horizon
By DAVID SEIFMAN City Hall Bureau Chief
Posted: May 2, 2012
The Rent Guidelines Board set the stage last night for the lowest increases in a decade.
In a swift, 34-minute meeting, the board voted 5-4 to approve preliminary rent hikes of 1.75 to 4 percent for new one-year leases and 3.5 to 6.75 percent for two-year renewals.
The range of increases was about 50 percent below last year’s and signaled that tenants in more than a million rent-stabilized apartments could be on the verge of the lowest increases since 2002, when rents went up by 2 and 4 percent.
Renters who had the misfortune of signing new leases last year were hit with 3.75 and 7.25 percent hikes.
Keeping with the theme of the day, about 200 tenants gathered outside Cooper Union to “occupy” the RGB and protest what they described as a sham vote in the historic building’s basement auditorium.
With the demonstrators otherwise occupied, the board rushed through its agenda without any pretense of a genuine discussion.
Fewer than 30 people were in the audience at that time, so the sustained catcalls and shouts that have become a staple of RGB meetings were missing.
As usual, tenant representatives suggested a total rent freeze. They pointed out that tenants are now shelling out 35.2 percent of their income on rent, up from 31.7 percent in 2008.
“These are the highest rent burdens ever recorded in New York City,” declared tenant rep Adriene Holder.
Landlord representatives came back with proposed increases of 5 and 9 percent, offering the argument that such a move would force elected officials to boost subsidies to those who can’t pay their rent bills.
“If elected officials won’t use their power to fix the problems, then they must be replaced,” asserted landlord rep Steve Schleider.
Both motions failed by 7-2.
Board Chairman Jonathan Kimmel then offered his own motion for the range of hikes that were adopted. The landlords and tenant reps all voted “no;” the five public members all voted “yes.”
Once the final raises are decided in June, they will affect leases that expire between Oct. 1, 2012 and Sept. 30, 2013.