Rent Guidelines Board Holds Public Hearing To Discuss Propose Increases

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By: NY1 News

 

The annual fight over rent increases for the city’s one million regulated apartments is nearing a conclusion.

The Rent Guidelines Board held a public hearing in Lower Manhattan on Thursday, the latest in a series of hearings to discuss proposed increases voted upon last month.

Those increases are between 3.25 and 6.25 percent on one-year leases and between 5 and 9.5 percent for two-year leases.

Tenants say they cannot afford yet another hike, while landlords say they are necessary to keep up with costs.

“There are more subsidized housing units available in this city than there are impoverished tenants. If that doesn’t work out, then there’s something wrong with the way the city is administering its housing subsidy programs,” said Jack Freund, the executive vice president of the Rent Stabilization Association. “If you place that burden on property owners, you’re just going to see an inability to maintain properties for a majority of people who can afford a moderate rent increase.”

“Right now my apartment is right on the border of being unaffordable and this would really push it over the edge,” said housing advocate Sam Stein. “I think that’s the case for thousands of tenants around the city.”

The board says more than 2,500 previously stabilized units were removed from regulations last year.

The final vote on the rent hikes is June 20.

Report from the RGB Front

Summary of RGB Meeting May 31, 2012

The NYC Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) held a public meeting to review two RGB staff reports (Housing Changes and Housing Supply) and to hear testimony from two City and State agencies ( the State’s Office of Rent Administration and NYC Department of Finance.

Several points were raised which support the housing industry’s request for rent guidelines higher than those proposed in the Preliminary Guideline Proposal. For example, the Housing Changes report showed that, for the second year in row, the number of units removed from the rent stabilization system because of high-rent decontrol has declined (from 13,557 in 2009 to 11,364). This is important because tenant advocates have argued that an increasing number of fair market apartments meant that owners did not need increases on their stabilized units (ignoring the fact that the vast majority of deregulated apartments were in Manhattan).

DHCR’s testimony and response to questions highlighted several facts that the RGB should take under consideration:

  • DHCR granted only 65% of the total MCI dollars applied for 2011, indicating that owners are spending substantial sums on improvements for which they are not being compensated.
  • No owners filed for hardship applications in 2011, likely because DHCR acknowledged that hardship applications take years to process and are ultimately denied.
  • DHCR also acknowledged that it was still investigating whether government mandated improvements such as backflow preventer devices and heating plant conversions should be eligible for MCI rent increases