Landlords, Tenants Face Off At Rent Guidelines Board Public Hearing

Proposal Would Allow 3% Increase For 1-Year Leases, 4.5% For 2-Year Leases

June 13, 2013 2:31 PM

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The New York City Rent Guidelines Board held a public hearing in lower Manhattan Thursday.

As WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reported, landlords were pitted against tenants and neither side was happy.

The rent board has proposed an increase on tenants of about a million rent-stabilized apartments.

Tenants hold signs at the Rent Guidelines Board public hearing, June 13, 2013. (credit: Juliet Papa/1010 WINS)

Under the proposal, a one-year lease could see a rent increase from 3.25 percent to 6.25 percent. A two-year lease could go up from 5 percent to 9.5 percent, according to the rent board.

Crown Heights building owner Constance Nugent-Miller said the proposed increases aren’t enough.

“Especially after Hurricane Sandy, how are we going to make our building safe? How are we going to protect those boilers from flood? It’s not going to be done for free,” she told Diamond.

“My taxes are 80 percent higher now than five years and my rent revenues have gone up less than 20 percent,” Washington Heights landlord Michael Vinocur told Diamond.

Susan Steinberg, who has a rent-stabilized apartment in Peter Cooper Village, said the cards are stacked against the tenants.

“This is a real problem. Many people are losing their homes and it’s just time for tenants to get a break,” Steinberg told Diamond.

Two Democratic candidates for mayor addressed the board at the hearing.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio both called for a rent freeze this year.

“You have raised rents throughout the crisis. It’s time to stop doing that and provide people relief,” de Blasio said.

The rent board approved increases of 2 percent for one-year renewals and 4 percent for two-year leases last year.

The hearing goes until 7 p.m. Thursday evening at the Emigrant Savings Bank Building located at 49-51 Chambers Street.

No public hearing will be held in Brooklyn, the Bronx or Queens this year, due to past poor attendance.

A final vote on the rent increase recommendations is scheduled for Thursday June 20.

Source: CBS New York

 

Rent Guidelines Board Holds Public Hearing On Rent Hikes

NY1 News Logo

By: NY1 News

The Rent Guidelines Board held another public meeting Thursday as it prepares to vote on rent increases for the city’s 1 million regulated apartments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The board is considering a hike of between 3.25 percent and 6.25 percent on one-year leases for rent-stabilized apartments.

Two-year leases could go up between 5 percent and 9.5 percent.

Thursday’s meeting brought out landlords who said they need the increase and tenants who maintained that New Yorkers cannot handle another hike.

“I’m here today to testify for a zero rent increase,” said Helen Rosenthal of Community Board 7. “If we don’t move forward in a way that stabilizes the middle-income families and working people, this city is truly going to become either for the rich or the very, very poorest.”

“The increasing rate of property taxes and water on especially the small landlords, it’s overwhelming us, it’s crushing us. And I’m here to ask for a really fair increase this year and not the pittance in which they usually give us,” said Constance Nugent-Miller, a landlord.

The board is expected to make its final vote next Thursday at Cooper Union.

 

Source: NY1

At Hearing, 3 Mayoral Candidates Advocate Rent Freeze

By MONA EL-NAGGAR

Kathleen Jones, with a Bronx community group, cried at a public hearing in Manhattan while talking about higher rent costs.

At the Rent Guidelines Board public hearing on Thursday, much of the theater and drama were as always: tenants insisting that the proposed increase at rent-stabilized apartments in New York City was far too high, and landlords complaining that it was far too low.

But with this being a mayoral election year, the hearing featured a few different actors.

Among those in attendance were three Democratic mayoral candidates,Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker; Bill de Blasio, the public advocate; and John C. Liu, the city comptroller. All three spoke in favor of imposing a rent freeze.

“It is time we finally consider the tenants,” Ms. Quinn said, arguing that owners have fared better than tenants over the course of the recession.

“Good luck on your campaign,” replied Steven J. Schleider, who represents property owners on the nine-member board.

“So you’re taking a position that government can dictate how much money or profit or return a private owner can have?” Mr. Schleider asked.

“We’re focused on the needs of tenants,” Ms. Quinn repeated.

Mr. Schleider shook his head.

Ms. Quinn shot back: “We’ve danced this dance before, we know who’s leading when, who’s following when, and at what point we go from waltz to fox trot.”

The audience broke out in laughter. Some cheered from the back of the room. One man waved his sign that read, “Justice for tenants.”

In a way, the gist of Ms. Quinn’s remark summed up Thursday’s hearing.

This year, the board has proposed an increase ranging from 3.25 percent to 6.25 percent for a one-year lease and 5 percent to 9.5 percent for a two-year lease. Last year, the board approved an increase of 2 percent for a one-year lease and 4 percent for a two-year lease. An additional supplement, which tenant advocates refer to as the “poor tax,” would impose a higher increase in rent for those tenants who live in a rent-stabilized apartment and pay less than $1,000 a month.

Judith Seigel, an 83-year-old artist who owns an 1835 brownstone on Morton Street in the West Village, said her property tax had doubled to about $40,000 over the last decade. And while she said the Village had become more often populated by “movie stars than artists,” it is still her home.

“My husband would come home from his job as a buyer in training at Bloomingdale’s, hang his clothes and lay bricks and scrape paint until midnight,” Ms. Seigel said. “Back then, we could never imagine that World War II emergency rent controls would last beyond 1984, much less 2001. And now it’s 2013.”

Mr. de Blasio criticized the board for holding only one public hearing; since 2005, a second hearing has been traditionally held in the Bronx, Brooklyn or Queens. “By not holding a single hearing in the outer boroughs, the board has marginalized the voices of more than 700,000 renters who face the prospect of higher rents,” Mr. de Blasio said. The board’s solitary hearing “is not just an inconvenience; it’s an outright failure of democracy.”

Mr. Liu called for a one-year moratorium on rent increases.

The board will reconvene next Thursday to vote on the proposed increases.

“It feels like the two sides come from alternate universes, that they are living in different realities,” said Harvey Epstein, another board member who sits on the opposite side of the hearing table from Mr. Schleider. “We have to hear the two sides and try to find some balance.”

Source: New York Times

Rent Board Trims Roster of Hearings on Increases

By 
Published: June 5, 2013

Even as many New Yorkers face substantial rent increases, they will have one less chance to complain about it.

Citing poor attendance in the last few years, the Rent Guidelines Board, a nine-member board appointed by the mayor, has eliminated a public hearing this month that has traditionally been held in the Bronx, Brooklyn, or Queens since 2005. The remaining public hearing will be held in Lower Manhattan on June 13 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The rent board is proposing to allow rent increases for tenants living in about one million rent-stabilized apartments in New York City. For a one-year lease, the proposal would allow an increase of from 3.25 percent to 6.25 percent; it would be from 5 percent to 9.5 percent for a two-year lease. Last year, it approved rent increases of 2 percent and 4 percent, respectively, after a dip in landlords’ operating costs. The board will make a final decision on June 20.

Renters outside Manhattan, and their advocates, say that many people want to testify this year because of the large increases that are being proposed, but will not be able to get to the Manhattan hearing because they cannot afford to take time off from work, or would find it difficult to travel there.

“This arrangement all but assures the working people most affected by the board’s decision will be unable to participate, and their voices will have no bearing on the final rent increase decision,” Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, said in a letter to the board. “This is not a mere inconvenience — it is a downright failure of the democratic process.”

In protest, tenant groups organized a hearing of their own on Wednesday evening in the Bronx that drew more than 180 people. Susanna Blankley, director of housing organizing for Community Action for Safe Apartments, a project of New Settlement Apartments, said they had invited the rent board to attend, but the majority did not respond. The proposed rent increases are higher this year to help cover the increases in operating costs for rent-stabilized buildings, including the cost of real estate taxes, utilities, labor and insurance, said Jack Freund, executive vice president of the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents about 25,000 building owners and managers. He noted that the price index of operating costs for rent stabilized buildings rose by 5.9 percent this year, compared with 2.8 percent last year. “It’s a necessary increase,” Mr. Freund said. “If you want to maintain that work force housing, you have to pass along the cost increases.”

Andrew McLaughlin, executive director of the Rent Guidelines Board, said the board had seen declining attendance at public hearings since the 1990s, when a few hundred people would rise to speak, and the board members would stay as late as midnight. He said that so few people attended the Queens meeting in 2010 that board members sat for an hour with no one to listen to. Last year’s meeting in the Bronx drew 21 speakers (of which 12 were tenants) compared with 55 in Manhattan, he said.

Tenant advocates say that many people do not know about the hearings because they are not well publicized, and the information is provided only in English. Mr. McLaughlin said that notices were sent out to major media outlets, community boards, council members and others, and that translations into Spanish and other languages are available through a function on its Web site.

Mr. McLaughlin added that the board, which had to cut its budget 20 percent last year, to about $450,000, saved between $4,000 and $5,000 by not renting space for the second meeting. He said that the Manhattan meeting was extended by an hour this year, to 7 p.m., and that the board would stay to listen to anyone who had registered by that time.

But renters like Alfreda Lee said it would be difficult, if not impossible, to get there in time. Ms. Lee, 59, said she answers phone calls on a domestic violence hot line in Brooklyn until 6 p.m. or later on weeknights. “We have to work full-time jobs to pay rent,” she said. “If you really wanted to hear from people, you would make it fair.”

 

Source: New York Times

All the politicians are standing up for tenants at the RGB. Owners need to stand up for themselves. Register now to testify.

Christine C. Quinn, Speaker, NYC Council

 

Dear New Yorker,

Last month, the NYC Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) adopted a proposed range of increases for NYC rent stabilized apartments: between 3.25% to 6.25% for 1-year leases and 5% to 9.5% for 2-year leases.

If approved, these increases will negatively impact millions of low- and middle-class New Yorkers, many of whom are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy and pay more than 50% of their income in rent.  That’s why this year we’re once again calling for a rent freeze.

Unfortunately, the RGB has only scheduled one public hearing before their final vote this year – and it’s in Manhattan, mainly during working hours, which will make it extremely difficult for folks, especially in the outer boroughs, to attend and testify.  Additional details below:

  • Thursday, June 13, 2013, Public Hearing (Public Testimony), Emigrant Savings Bank Building, 49-51 Chambers Street (between Broadway and Centre Street), New York, NY 1007, starting at 10 AM
  • Thursday, June 20, 2013, Public Meeting (Final Vote), The Great Hall at Cooper Union, 7 East 7th Street (at corner of Third Avenue), Basement, New York, NY 10003, starting at 5:30 PM

These rent increases will affect ALL of our neighborhoods, so it’s important not to let this deter us and to make every effort to ensure that our voices are heard.

Tenants and advocates have requested that an additional outer borough hearing be scheduled during the evening hours – but, so far, the Board has refused to do so.

 

In response, Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA) and other tenant advocacy groups are hosting their own unofficial RGB hearing in the Bronx next Wednesday, June 5, 2013, at the New Settlement Community Center, located at 1501 Jerome Avenue and 172nd Street, starting at 5:30 PM.

Given the RGB’s decision to forgo outer borough hearings, we wanted to help CASA and its partners get the word out and encourage folks to attend.

More importantly, we want to urge everyone, if at all possible, to testify at the RGB’s public hearing on June 13th.  If taking time off from work, school and/or family isn’t an option, you can submit your views in writing instead by addressing them to the Chairman, or any Board member, c/o the NYC Rent Guidelines Board, 51 Chambers St., Suite 202, New York, NY 10007 or by email at chair@nycrgb.org.

Additional information about this year’s rent guidelines process can be found on the RGB’s website at www.nycrgb.org.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Christine C. Quinn

Speaker

NYC Council

Rent Guidelines Board Holds Public Hearing To Discuss Propose Increases

NY1 News Logo

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.

Bill de Blasio Is Actually Not Cool With Rent Increases

 

By Ross Barkan

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio would like everyone to know that, despite a report indicating otherwise, in his view, the rent is actually too damn high.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The confusion began when the New York Post reported today that Mr. de Blasio, one of the most liberal candidates in the mayors race, was opposed to freezing rents on rent-stabilized properties. The story quoted a de Blasio aide expressing the public advocate’s concern about the potential impact on small landlords, and reported that he had not called on the Rent Guidelines Board to keep rents from increasing. All of his Democratic rivals had made such a call.

However, Mr. de Blaso, probably unhappy about being labeled the “unexpected new champion” of landlords, blasted out a statement later in the morning that blamed a spokesperson for having “mischaracterized” his position on rent increases. He said he actually believes just the opposite.

“At a time when nearly half of our city’s residents are living in or near poverty, we cannot continue to put additional financial burdens on poor and working New Yorkers,” Mr. de Blasio said in the  statement. “The Rent Guidelines Board must freeze rent increases when it meets next month. And I renew my call for the RGB to hold hearings in the five boroughs, instead of its one planned meeting in Manhattan. If the RGB’s members could hear directly from the people, as I have, they would know we cannot place additional hardships on renters in New York.”

The spokesman, Wiley Norvell, subsequently told Politicker that the mix-up had been entirely his fault and not his boss’s.

“It was my miscommunication,” he said. “I was unclear of the position he had taken. The mistake was on me.”

 

Source: Politicker

“Government actually stimulated homelessness.”

While tenant advocates at the Rent Guidelines Board continually point to rising homelessness as an indicator of housing affordability problems, it is interesting that at least one advocacy group for the homeless believes that, through its re-housing policies, “government actually stimulated homelessness.”

 

       – Jack Freund

 

Additional Sources:

Report: New Mayor Should Stop Re-Housing the Homeless- City Limits, 4/23/13