NYC Tenants & Landlords Disappointed After Rent Guidelines Board Votes for 3.25% Hike - The Jewish Voice
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NYC Tenants & Landlords Disappointed After Rent Guidelines Board Votes for 3.25% Hike

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NYC Tenants & Landlords Disappointed After Rent Guidelines Board Votes for 3.25% Hike

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As New York City residents begin to emerge from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, it appears that on the housing front here in the Big Apple, no one is really satisfied with the status quo.

On Tuesday night, both landlords and tenants were feeling quite disappointed when the Rent Guidelines Board voted 5-4 to give rent stabilized tenants a 3.25% increase on those who have one-year leases and a 5% increase for those with two-year leases, according a report on the Real Deal web site.

Groups representing landlords are not thrilled with the rent hikes because they believe the board’s approval of this increase will not cover their ever-increasing expenses to maintain apartments.

Over the last 18 months, the board sought to protect tenants due the economic downturn created by the Covid-19 pandemic and had placed a freeze on increases for those who live in rent stabilized apartments. The RGB’s vote on Tuesday night represented the first rent hike since Covid struck, according to the report on the Real Deal web site.

Both sides in this issue weighed in quite vocally. According to the Real Deal report, tenant advocacy groups presented arguments that those who rent would find it next to impossible to bear any increases. Landlords expressed their displeasure by saying that the increase imposed on tenants would not make any difference in offsetting the expenses they have incurred and continue to incur.

As inflation soars and a possible recession is on the horizon, before the RGB’s vote, the Real Deal reported that a rally was held outside the venue where the final vote was taken in the NoHo section of Manhattan. The report indicated that amongst the rally attendees were renters and tenant advocacy groups, including the Rent Justice Coalition and the Met Council on Housing.

The objective of the rally was to express skepticism over a reconstituted rent board they claim has prioritized landlords’ profits over tenants’ financial security, as was reported by the Real Deal.

“I do not get the feeling that we’re being heard too well,” said Rent Justice Coalition member Julius Bennet. The Real Deal reported that he was referencing the four public hearings held this spring that offered New Yorkers a platform to speak on rent adjustments.

The one thing that both sides agree upon is that the determination of rent increases needs serious reform measures.  The question remains as to whether an agreement can be reached on this between the two sides, even if a rent reform plan would be considered, as no progress has been made on this.

The Real Deal reported that last month the board preliminarily approved a 2 to 4 percent increase and final decisions have always fallen within approved ranges.

Tenant rights activists believe that such forums do not allow them to influence the board and their participation amounts to a mere exercise.

Adán Soltren, a newly appointed tenant representative said over the cheers of protesters at the forum that he felt the neutrality of the panel had been compromised, as was reported by The Real Deal.

Alluding to the financial and political gravitas of the real estate industry in the city, Soltren said that many on the board are appointed by the mayor’s office and that they are being utilized to ensure that “the real estate industry, a major donor to Mayor Eric Adams and previous administrations, is pulling in enough money, “ as was reported by The Real Deal.

Soltren said, “Shame on this administration and any administration that will put members in place on this board that clearly believe investments deserve more respect than people. This process has been performative at best and for the tenants of the city, I am truly sorry.

In response to the RGB’s vote, Mayor Eric Adams issued a statement in which he paid lip service to the financial difficulties that renters would have in coming up with the additional funds each month, but also said that small building owners are facing their own hardships in terms of dealing with pending bankruptcies because of the rent freezes that were imposed over the last few years, according to the report.

Adams assigned blame to “this system” and said, “we cannot pit landlords against tenants as winners and losers every year.”

Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, a group that represents landlords said, “The RGB vote proves this is a broken system. It fails landlords and tenants.”

The implication of his statement could be taken to mean that if rent increases are too small then that would result in more than 2 million people living in substandard conditions because the meager increases are nowhere near enough to help landlords cover the expenses involved in the maintenance of rent stabilized apartments.

The Real Deal reported that Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program said, “The data is clear. The adjustment approved by the RGB today will not put a penny of profit in the pockets of small property owners. The RGB has simply taken steps to limit their losses for the next year.”

Policy modification has been called for such as lower property taxes and a more generous tax abatement to help landlords afford repairs, according to report.

In a separate matter, the RGB also voted to freeze rents on stabilized hotels. Both adjustments take effect Oct. 1, 2022.

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