By now it’s a given, anytime the city has a tense rent board meeting you just know rents are going to go up. Let’s first take a look at the difference between a rent control apartment and a rent stabilized one. There are many apartments for rent in New York, and only 40,000 rent controlled units vs about one million stabilized units. Both have different sets of rent regulations. New York City Rent Board Guidelines definition of a rent control apartment is any residential building constructed before February 1947 in municipalities that have not declared an end to the postwar rental housing emergency. For an apartment to be under rent control, the tenant (or their lawful successor such as a family member, spouse, or adult lifetime partner) must have been living in that apartment continuously since before July 1, 1971. When a rent controlled apartment becomes vacant, it either becomes rent stabilized, or, if it is in a building with fewer than six units, it is generally removed from regulation. Besides a rent control tenant moving out for the rent control apartment becoming a rent stabilized one there are other exceptions. One is tenants in buildings of six or more units built before February 1, 1947 and who moved in after June 30, 1971 are also covered by rent stabilization. Now that is covered lets look into what has happen with the increase.
This vote happens every year and what usually happens is tenants in these apartments rush out to their local Staples store and purchase tons of white corrugated cardboard, duct tape and black sharpies. They congregate and protest at Cooper Union in Manhattan against these hikes and why shouldn’t they. The majority of these people are senior citizens on a fixed income. After all the yelling and shouts of ”liar” and “shame” the increase occurrs. The increase only applies to rent stabilized apartments and it’s very simple, it went up! The increase went by 3.75% for one-year leases and 7.25% for two-year leases with no vacancy adjustments. These debates occur every year but this year was a huge increase. Tenants got a small win which was a dismissal of a 1% surcharge for buildings heated by oil. Board and tenant member Adriene Holder mentioned that the increase was inconsistent with the costs for owners whose profits have amplified.
Then again the viewpoint from the landlords is they also have expenses. At least one third of their income from the rents they pick up must go toward city real-estate taxes, utility costs, such as for water, sewers and fuel. Let’s not forget salaries to the supers, doormen and porters. The fact is that landlords are making less income from rent-regulated units. Also The Rent Stabilization Association has implemented costly guidelines including requirements on eco-friendly fuel into their buildings which happens to be more expensive. There is also the cost from negligent tenants. Tenants that wreck the apartments from hoarding for example. Besides the cost of fixing the apartment there are also legal costs. It is not that simple to evict a tenant and it took years to see a any results. Which also adds up in legal fees that could reach in the 6 digits.
We are in a recession and times are getting harder for the middle class to live in the city. We can’t outright freeze the rent but we can’t either exceed a phenomenal increase in this economy. Something more should be done to than just increase the amounts on leases. More compromises should be done on rent guidelines for the landlord by giving them some more deductions on their taxes for using eco-friendly oil. Just some thoughts to try to help both sides of the fence until next year I’ll see you at Staples.