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Source: Patch
Subject: Housing & Environmental Justice
Type: Media Coverage

NYC Board To Consider Rent Hikes Thursday

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NEW YORK, NY — The city’s Rent Guidelines Board will begin considering rent hikes for New York City’s 1 million rent-stabilized homes on Thursday, kicking off a two-month process that could end with tenants paying more.

At its Thursday evening meeting, the board is set to vote on a set of preliminary guidelines — or allowed rent hikes for rent-stabilized apartments, lofts and hotels — that will be presented to the public at a series of meetings in each borough in May and June. The final guidelines, set to be approved June 26, will take effect on Oct. 1.

Landlords plan to ask for much bigger hikes than the board has approved in recent years. The Rent Stabilization Association, a group of 25,000 landlords for 1 million rent-stabilized apartments across the city, wants increases of 4 percent on one-year leases and 7 percent on two-year leases.

Joseph Strasburg, the association’s president, said the landlords have seen their expenses rise 16 percent over the last five years, far outpacing the recent rent hikes the board has approved. Operating costs have risen 4.5 percent this year and are expected to increase another 3.4 percent next year, he said.

“(I)t’s time for the RGB to stop advancing the political agenda of the City Administration and restore rationality — and independence from City Hall — in this year’s rent guidelines deliberations,” Strasburg said in a statement.

But the board hasn’t allowed increases that large since 2013, the last year under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Hikes of 4 percent for one-year leases and 7.75 percent for two-year leases were approved that year.

Rents for one-year leases were frozen in 2015 and 2016 and haven’t increased more than 1.25 percent since 2014, when Mayor Bill de Blasio took office. Hikes for two-year leases in that time have ranged from 2 to 2.75 percent.

Many of the city’s tenants still struggle to afford their apartments while facing harassment from landlords trying to push them out, said Angel Vera, a housing advocate with Make the Road New York. Some New Yorkers spend as much as 70 percent of their income on rent, he said.

Vera questioned whether all landlords’ expenses have increased so much and said they still make hefty profits on their apartments. The Rent Guidelines Board should stick to its pattern of small increases, he said.

“We think it’s fair that again tenants have a break,” Vera said.

Anyone can attend Thursday’s Rent Guidelines Board meeting at 7 p.m. at the Great Hall at Cooper Union, located at 7 E. Seventh St. in Manhattan. The public can then testify on the proposed guidelines at meetings on June 7, 11, 13, 19 and 21. The full schedule is available here.