The Daily Dirt: Rent Guidelines Board! Here we go again

Board votes for 2.75 percent increase

Board Chair Nestor Davidson (Fordham University)
Board Chair Nestor Davidson (Fordham University)

In 1969, the Rent Guidelines Board approved a 10 percent increase on one- and two-year leases. 

That was the board’s first year of existence, at which time 400,000 rental units were stabilized, per this extensive history on the board. That number has since more than doubled. 

It wasn’t until 1974 that two tenant and two owner representatives were guaranteed spots on the board. The mayor appoints the board’s nine members, and for that, and other reasons, the RGB is viewed as a highly politicized body. 

During this year’s preliminary vote, the board’s two tenant representatives walked out, one indicating that the only vote he would cast was one of “no confidence in this mayor and in this board.” Last year, City Council members interrupted the preliminary vote to storm the stage and demand a rent-rollback. 

Leading up to the vote this year, a group of more than two dozen state Assembly members signed onto a letter calling for the board to freeze rents for one- and two-year leases “or propose the lowest increase possible.” City Council Majority Leader Amanda Farías said she opposed any “percentage change” to rents.  

Landlord groups have also long been critical of the process and expressed frustration that the board does not base the increases on its own studies. Some have taken issue with the methodology of the studies as well. 

The perception of the board as a politicized entity is not helped by the fact that mayors have taken credit for its actions: Mayor Bill de Blasio said a rent freeze was a product of his prodding in 2017, according to Politico. In 2022, Mayor Eric Adams touted his call for a “better balance” following the board’s decision to lower the range agreed upon during its preliminary vote that year.

After the preliminary vote this year, the mayor again noted the challenge of “striking a balance between protecting tenants from infeasible rent increases and ensuring property owners can maintain their buildings as costs continue to rise.” But he said the max 6.5 percent proposed for two-year lease renewals went “far beyond what is reasonable.” During a press conference on Monday, the mayor said he hoped “there’s a low end to, if any, increase at all.” 

“I share the concerns of advocates and others. We need to make sure we keep the city affordable,” he said.

Later in the day, the board approved increases of 2.75 percent for one-year leases, and 5.25 percent for two-year renewals.

The response after the vote followed the usual patterns: No one is happy. Landlord groups said the increases are inadequate, while tenant advocates, who pushed for a rent freeze, condemned the increases. 

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A thing we’ve learned: On Tuesday, the City Council’s Committee on Finance will consider a bill that will allow the city to hold tax lien sales through December 31, 2028. The last such sale took place in December 2021, and the city has since seen delinquencies increase. The new bill proposes various reforms to the sale, including ramping up required notifications to owners whose properties have tax liens and creating an “Easy Exit” program that would allow certain one- to three-unit residential properties and condominiums to be removed from the tax lien sale list up to three times within a 36-month period. 

Elsewhere in New York…

— Okay, this happened in New Jersey, but it’s a big deal: Power broker George Norcross III was indicted on Monday on various corruption charges stemming from his allegedly unlawful acquisition of waterfront property in Camden, NJ Advance Media reports. State Attorney General Matthew Platkin said Norcross Enterprises “manipulated government programs and processes designed to attract development and investment to instead suit their own financial desires.”

— City Comptroller Brad Lander may announce plans to run for mayor in 2025 as soon as July, Politico New York reports. He told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer on Monday that he is “thinking really seriously about” running, citing concerns raised by New Yorkers about shortening library hours and illegal cannabis shops.  

— A former Department of Buildings inspector admitted to taking cash from homeowners in exchange for not issuing violations, Gothamist reports. Zabihullah Ibrahimi, 42, was arrested in April on charges of accepting bribes and official misconduct. 

Closing Time

Residential: The priciest residential sale Monday was $81.5 million for two units at 220 Central Park South.

Commercial: The largest commercial sale of the day was $4.27 million for a commercial condo at 114 Hudson Street in Tribeca. 

New to the Market: The highest price for a residential property hitting the market was $15 million for a 5,200-square-foot cooperative unit at 200 Central Park South.

Breaking Ground: The largest new building application filed was for a 172,797-square-foot mixed-use building at 34 East 35th Street, in Murray Hill. Permits were filed by Laudenschlager of SLCE Architects. — Matthew Elo 

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