Rent Guidelines Board cuts hearing on proposed rent increases

June 06, 2013 03:00PM

The Rent Guidelines Board is canceling a hearing on proposed rent hikes for stabilized units, which has been held in Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx since 2005, the New York Times reported. The board attributed the cancellation to decreased attendance; a public hearing in Lower Manhattan is scheduled for next Thursday.

The board is proposing increases of 3.25 percent to 6.25 percent for one-year leases, and 5 percent to 9.5 percent for two-year leases. Outer-borough renters claim that they want to attend hearings, but say they can’t due to work schedules or travel times.

“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,” Public Advocate Bill de Blasio told the board in a letter obtained by the Times. “This is not a mere inconvenience — it is a downright failure of the democratic process.”

Tenant groups protested last night by holding their own hearing in the Bronx. The rent board was invited, but the majority of the nine-member board did not respond, the Times said.

Still, meeting attendance is down, Rent Guidelines executive director Andrew McLaughlin told the Times. A meeting last year in the Bronx held 21 people — 12 were tenants — compared to the 55 who showed up in Manhattan.

Tenants’ advocates also allege that the hearings aren’t well publicized and only have English-language information. But McLaughlin told the Times that information was provided to media outlets, community boards and others, with translations available on the board’s website. [NYT]Zachary Kussin