Rent Guidelines Board votes in favor of increases on apartments, freeze on hotels

Board voted .5 percent to 2.75 percent increase for 1-year leases and a 1.5 to 3.75 percent hike for 2-year leases
By Kathryn Brenzel | May 07, 2019 08:59PM

(Credit: iStock)

(Credit: iStock)

In a preliminary vote on Tuesday, the Rent Guidelines Board recommended a .5 to 2.75 percent increase for one-year leases and a 1.5 to 3.75 percent hike for two-year leases for both rent-stabilized apartments and lofts.

The members voted 5 to 4 in favor of this proposal, put forward by chair David Reiss, which included a 10 percent allowance for sublets but didn’t call for a vacancy bonus. For hotels, tenant representative Sheila Garcia’s proposal of no increase passed 6 to 3. While tenant advocates seated in the Cooper Union auditorium cheered for that decision, the voting results from Reiss’ proposal elicited shouts of “shame!”

The landlord representatives on the board — Patti Stone, an attorney with Rosenberg & Estis, and Scott Walsh, a Forest City alum — voted against both winning proposals, having pushed for increases of 3 percent for hotel units and hikes of 3.75 percent to 5.75 percent for one-year apartment leases and 4.75 to 6.75 percent for two-year leases. Amid unrelenting shouts from the audience, Stone also proposed the addition of a 10 to 15 percent vacancy allowance if the state ends up eliminating such bonuses, as some expect will happen before the end of this legislative session. The RGB hasn’t included a vacancy rent bump since the late 1990s, when the state implemented its own ranging from 5 to 20 percent.

“We live in a capitalist society, where people go into business to make a profit, not break even,” Stone said. “Owners have been under-compensated.”

The board also voted down a proposal from tenant representatives, which included a rent rollback ranging from .5 (which is a decrease) to 0 percent on one-year leases and a 0 to 1 percent increase on two-year leases.

“This is a renters city,” Garcia said. “We are in full awareness that we are living in a housing crisis.”

The preliminary vote comes as the state legislature mulls various proposals to reform rent-regulation laws, including the elimination of various programs that allow landlords to increase rents when apartments are vacated and renovated. At an RGB hearing last month, the Real Estate Board of New York argued that the board should increase rents by 7.5 percent in order to make up for the drop in funding streams that would result from changes proposed by the state.

The final RGB vote is slated for June 25.