Although Mayor Bill de Blasio has remained quiet as to how the City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) should handle this year’s deliberations, the RGB’s research reports clearly indicate that anything but a rent guideline increase this year would once again be politically-motivated.
As the COVID-19 pandemic began to cripple New York City leading up to RGB Order 52 last year, Mayor de Blasio publicly called for the Board to enact a rent freeze without holding any meetings to discuss staff research reports. Despite these demands from the Mayor, the Board was legally required to hold deliberations for a new set of rent guidelines. Even with data supporting the highest rent guideline increase under the current administration, there was no question that the de Blasio appointees to the Board would grant his wishes and enact the third rent freeze since 2014.
As of now, Mayor de Blasio, who is in his last year of office, appears to have taken a hands-off approach to RGB deliberations this year even with the economic effect of the pandemic still lingering in the City. Additionally, the RGB reports once again justify moderate rent increases, showing not only increased owner operating expenses, but positive and steady economic conditions for the City’s rent-stabilized tenants (see below for a summary of the major RGB reports).
The RGB began virtual meetings on April 15th and RSA provided invited testimony before the Board on April 29th. As we went to press, the RGB was preparing to hold their Preliminary Vote on Wednesday, May 5th. The RGB has also released a tentative schedule of the remaining virtual meetings and hearings that they will hold throughout the remainder of the deliberations (see accompanying chart).
In our invited testimony to the Board, RSA highlighted vastly improved economic conditions for tenants despite the pandemic, as well as the lack of assistance for building owners in the face of increased operating expenses and a statewide eviction moratorium over the last 13 months. Major federal and local financial assistance has put stabilized tenants in a far-better position than many pro-tenant advocates had expected and we strongly believe that a return to reasonable rent guideline increases is justified this year.
As we do in every June issue of the RSA Reporter, we will once again summarize our arguments and provide major talking points and tips that will allow you to prepare for your own testimony during the virtual public hearings in June. Last year, despite the restrictions imposed by virtual hearings, as well as Mayor de Blasio repeatedly calling on the Board to enact a rent freeze, RSA members had a successful turnout during the public hearings.
This year, we need to rally our members once again to come out and tell your stories about how this pandemic has had a negative impact on your buildings and your ability to properly maintain them.
2021 RGB Meetings and Hearings (Tentative Schedule)
All meetings and hearings will be virtual. You may view the live feed on the RGB’s YouTube channel and listen via telephone. Instructions on how to view and/or listen to the meetings are posted on the RGB website.
Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 7:00 P.M.
Public Meeting - Prelimiary Vote
Thursday, June 3, 2021 at 9:30 A.M.
Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at 4:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M.
Virtual Public Hearing
Thursday, June 17, 2021 at 5:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M.
Virtual Public Hearing
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 7:00 P.M.
Public Meeting - Final Vote