Updated 06/21/2012 11:06 PM
Rent Guidelines Board Approves Rent Increases On Rent-Stabilized Apartments
The Rent Guidelines Board passed a proposal Thursday by a 5-4 vote that raises rents on one-year leases by two percent or $20 and on two-year leases by four percent or $40. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
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Outside Cooper Union, demonstrators marched. Inside, they screamed for a freeze.
Tenants of stabilized apartments and their supporters tried to disrupt the Rent Guidelines Board's vote.
"Last year's increase was incredibly high," said one tenant. "This year, tenants deserve a rent freeze."
A much smaller and more reserved group of building owners and their representative organizations lobbied for their own interests.
"We asked for between 5 and 9 percent," said Joe Strasberg of the Rent Stabilization Association. "Every year, we continue to fall behind."
The board, all appointed by the mayor, voted 5-4 to allow rents on one-year leases to go up 2 percent or $20, whichever is greater. Two-year leases can increase 4 percent or $40, whichever is greater.
The new rent raises effect leases signed or renewed starting in October of 2012 for roughly one million rent-regulated apartments.
Tenants know it could have been worse but they are still not satisfied.
"A zero increase across the board would have been good for all tenants in the city since we have had a disastrous recession and we still are suffering the effects of it," said one tenant.
Owners worry the increase doesn't cover their building operations costs, which, according to the board, increased almost 3 percent in 2012.
"How can I pay my bills and give me tenants a nice place to live if I can't afford to pay the people who fix my building?" said one owner.
It's likely that neither side will ever agree on the money but many on both sides and members of the board seem to think the system is broken and needs reform.
"We're expected to fix the system," said RGB Chairman Jonathan Kimmel. "The owner's costs have all gone up but they can't all be compensated on the backs of the tenants. Our feeling is and many people I've spoken to is government should be subsidizing the people who need subsidies."
Kimmel said that Thursday's rent increase is the lowest rent increase in a decade.