RGB Votes on Preliminary Rent Increase Guidelines
On May 5, the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) held a preliminary vote on rent increases for rent-stabilized apartments. The chair’s proposal passed by five votes, allowing for 0 to 2 percent increases for one-year leases, 0.5 to 3.5 percent for two-year leases, and 10 percent for sublets. This year’s preliminary vote follows last year’s record low increases. Last year, the board voted to raise rent by 1 percent for one-year lease renewals, and 2.75 percent for two-year renewals.
The board passed over proposals recommended by owners and tenant members. Owners had proposed an allowance of 4.2 percent increases on one-year leases and 6.75 percent increases on two-year leases, with the same 10 percent increase allowance on sublets. And tenant members had proposed -4 percent to 0 percent increases for one-year leases, -2 to 0 percent increases for two-year leases, and no increases on sublets.
Mayor de Blasio has campaigned publicly for a rent freeze on rent-stabilized apartments in the past, but this year he has not spoken publicly about his wishes. However, the vote, Mayor de Blasio’s board appointments, and the decline in oil prices open the possibility for a rent freeze for one-year leases this year.
A 21 percent decline in heating oil and gas prices during the year ending in March offset increases in other expenses, such as such as taxes, insurance, and labor costs, according to a RGB staff study. And overall operating costs rose 0.5 percent, the lowest increase since 2002.
Last year, two owner representatives, joined by two holdover appointees of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, outmaneuvered de Blasio appointees and tenant members by backing a resolution for a small increase they had been expected to oppose. In doing so, the board rejected a last-minute effort by Mayor de Blasio to advocate for his promised freeze on one-year leases on the day of the vote. In contrast, this year, de Blasio has more influence over the board. He has now appointed or reappointed all seven members.
The RGB will vote on the final guidelines on Wednesday, June 24. The RGB will host four public hearings in the month of June to give property owners a chance to provide testimony before the board. The hearings will be held on the following dates:
- Monday, June 8, 2015. Elebash Recital Hall, The Graduate Center, CUNY, 365 Fifth Ave., Manhattan—2 p.m.
- Thursday, June 11, 2015. Bronx Museum of Art, Lower Gallery, 1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx—5 p.m.
- Monday, June 15, 2015. Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd., Room 200, Queens—5 p.m.
- Thursday, June 18, 2015. Brooklyn Borough Hall, Court Room, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn—5 p.m.
- Wednesday, June 24, 2015. Final Vote, The Great Hall at Cooper Union, 7 E. 7th St., Manhattan—6 p.m.