Judge sets date for RSA suit against rent freeze

Landlord group wants to overturn 2016 decision
February 01, 2017 11:00AM

The RSA’s Joseph Strasburg and the RGB’s Kathleen Roberts

The RSA’s Joseph Strasburg and the RGB’s Kathleen Roberts

A New York State judge said she will issue a ruling on a landlord group’s lawsuit against last year’s rent freeze on March 28.

The Rent Stabilization Association, which represents the owners of stabilized apartments, argued that the freeze on one-year stabilized rent increases was politically motivated and didn’t take owners’ costs into account, as required by law. The Rent Guidelines Board, which approved the freeze, counters that it weighed all relevant criteria.

“The RSA makes it seem as if the RGB only considers tenants affordability,” the board’s attorney Emily Stitelman said. “That’s not the case.”

The Board, whose members are appointed by the mayor, votes on rent increases for stabilized apartments once a year. In 2016, it okayed a rent freeze for the second year in a row after an analysis showed that landlords’ costs had fallen by 1.2 percent on average, largely a result of fuel prices dropping an average of 41 percent.

The RSA, which counts roughly 25,000 landlords of rent-stabilized buildings, argues that the board improperly considered “tenant affordability” in making its decision. “(The board’s) function is not to defend the tenants. It’s the Legislature that should decide what is burdensome,” the association’s attorney Jeffrey Turkel said.

A ruling in favor of the landlords would be a big blow for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has centered his reelection campaign largely on affordable housing. [Politico]Konrad Putzier