Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. On Thursday night, the Rent Guidelines Board voted to jack up the rent approve rent increases of 4 percent for one-year leases and 7.75-percent for a two-year leases, as reported by The New York Times. The decision will mean increases of $40 a month, or $480 a year for a $1,000-a-month apartment, or $960 for a $2,000-a-month apartment, twice the amount of the 2012 increases, which were capped at 2 and 4 percent respectively.
When not even rent stabilized tenants can afford to stay in New York, the rest of us may as well start looking for apartments in Jersey City. Or maybe it’s time to throw in the towel altogether and decamp to the West Coast, leaving Manhattan to the I-bankers and the spoiled spawn of people who actually work for living.
Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is not happy that the Rent Guidelines Board, which decides rules on allowable rent hikes for stabilized apartments each year, has, citing poor attendance, stopped holding meetings outside of Manhattan.
“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,” Mr. de Blasio told The New York Times last week. “This is not a mere inconvenience—it is a downright failure of the democratic process.”
Mr. de Blasio’s complaint taps into two very powerful forces in New York City politics—outer borough resentment at being left out of Manhattan-centric decision making, and the pervasive feeling that the rent is too damn high. But is it justified?
A rent stabilized apartment is often spoken of as a kind of golden ticket in New York, the rare real estate find that will enable its lucky denizen to stay in a neighborhood, a borough, and increasingly, a city where housing is becoming a luxury commodity. A rent stabilized apartment is not only a renter’s insurance against being priced out of their current place, but a magical amulet against a future move to Hoboken or Jersey City.
Not that rent-stabilized apartments are particularly cheap, only cheaper. Nor does stabilization mean that tenants are protected from hefty rent increases, only that those rent increases will be determined by the Rent Guidelines Board, rather than their landlords. And this year, the increase looks likely to be considerable: between 3.25 and 6.25 percent for a one-year lease and 5 and 9 percent for two year leases, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
James D. Harmon Jr. may have taken his battle against rent control as far as it could legally go, but that doesn’t mean that the owner of the beautiful Upper West Side brownstone has abandoned the fight.
Mr. Harmon is now considering the only sure way to escape the system he despises: selling his house, the New York Post reports.
Mr. Harmon, who grew up in the brownstone and lives in an apartment there with his wife Jeanne, has spent years waging a legal campaign against his three rent-regulated tenants (he also has three market-rate tenants), who pay about $1,000 a month and have lived in the building since the 1970s, when they signed leases with Mr. Harmon’s grandfather.
Surprise! The rent is going up again next year.
In a move that surprised no one, the Rent Guidelines Board cast a preliminary vote to allow rent increases between 1.75 and 4 percent for one-year leases and 3.5 to 6.75 percent for two-year leases, reports The New York Times.
The ranges will be narrowed to a single percent increase when the board takes its final vote on June 21. Last year the board approved a 3.75 percent increase for a one-year lease and a 7.25 percent increase for a two-year lease.
Yet more good news for tenants living in rent-regulated apartments! Rents will will still be going up, of course—don’t be crazy, the rent always goes up—but this year could see the lowest hike in a decade.
The Rent Guidelines Board has set one of the benchmarks used to determine rent increases—the rise in landlords’ operating costs—at 2.8 percent, The New York Post reports.
Today marks a day of rejoicing for residents living in one of the city’s many rent-regulated apartments. Break out the Andre!
The Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to rent control brought by former federal prosecutor James D. Harmon Jr., the owner of a five-story townhouse on West 76th Street. Mr. Harmon, who grew up in the brownstone and now lives there with his wife Jeanne, inherited the building and its three rent-controlled tenants from his grandfather. The building also has three market-rate tenants.
In a city of renters, where the approximately 47% percent of the city’s 2.2 million rental units are subject to rent control or rent stabilization laws, the Harmon case touched New Yorkers’ notoriously hard-to-reach hearts. The case’s potential to radically upset New York City housing policy, as well as rent regulation laws across the country, left those on both sides of issue anxiously awaiting the court’s decision.
Every year, for the past 41 years, the nine members of the Rent Guidelines Board have gathered to reach a secretive consensus that sets the annual rent increases on rent-regulated apartments at somewhere around 3 percent, a move that without fail earns the ire of tenants and property owners alike.
It is unlikely that the Rent Guidelines Board harbors any illusions about its popularity at this point, but this year looks to bring unprecedented animosity. It’s only April and insults are flying, months before the board inevitably makes its rage-inducing decision.
“We need to move away from the days of a kangaroo court,” shouted City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who took to the steps of City Hall Monday morning to call for reforms to the hated board. “Regardless of the data… the rents go up!”
About those rent-controlled apartments. Beyond the sad story of peeling paint and killer court fees, what really caught the Observer‘s roving pink eye was a chart from the Census Bureau listing the number of rent-controlled apartments since 1987:
2002: 59,324 [Numbers jumped due to Read More
Last Friday, I was given the opportunity to testify before the Rent Guidelines Board regarding the current state of the multifamily market. The RGB is the entity that establishes the legal rent increases for rent-regulated apartments in New York. My testimony focused on some fundamental problems within the system and the need for Read More