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Rent Freeze Possible, Not Set in Stone

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Board Sets Preliminary Ranges After Failing to Last Year

As the City’s economy continues to improve, the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) has approved a range of guidelines that could possibly lead to a rent increase this year.
During the virtual Preliminary Vote on May 5th, the RGB approved the following preliminary guidelines for rent-stabilized apartments and lofts for leases commencing between October 1, 2021 and September 30, 2022:

For a one-year lease, a range between 0% and 2%
For a two-year lease, a range between 1% and 3%
A Special Guideline for decontrolled apartments equal to Maximum Base Rent (MBR) + 39%
A 0% increase for all classes of hotels, rooming houses and Single Room Occupancies (SRO’s)

The motion for these ranges was made by RGB Chairman David Reiss and was approved by a vote of 5-4 with all Public Members voting in favor of it. The RGB Owner Representatives, Scott Walsh and newly appointed Member Robert Ehrlich, made a motion for a set 2.75% one-year guideline and a 5.75% two-year guideline. However, as expected, that motion was defeated 7-2.

Although the vast majority of the Board continues to sympathize with tenants and the negative impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on them, the fact that the Board has once again approved ranges to consider over the next six weeks is a good indication that we could very well have a moderate rent guideline increase. Last year, the Board failed to set preliminary ranges and simply set preliminary numbers that would ultimately be approved as the final guidelines.

In addition to Mayor Bill de Blasio staying quiet on this year’s RGB deliberations, the impending $2.4 billion rent relief program, improved economic conditions, and Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing that New York State will lift all remaining business restrictions by May 31st, any argument by tenant advocates for consecutive rent freezes is quickly going out the window. Drastic measures are being taken to protect the most financially-vulnerable tenants and RGB data is once again justifying rent guideline increases.

Ahead of the Final Vote on June 23rd, the RGB will hold two virtual public hearings on June 15th and June 17th. Unlike last year, a rent freeze is not set in stone and building owners must step up to testify this year so that the Board Members can hear directly from you about the negative impact that the pandemic has had on your ability to maintain your buildings and apartments.

Because of the ability to submit written, verbal or video testimony without having to deal with the distractions of large tenant groups at the hearings, RSA members can comfortably provide testimony once again this year if you still remain uncomfortable testifying live.

On pages 4-6, we have provided information on how to submit testimony, as well as tips and guidance on what you should highlight in your testimony. Every single owner testimony is crucial this year and the entire Board must hear from you about the consequences of potentially enacting a fourth rent freeze since 2014. n

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June 2021
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15 Jun 2021 00:00
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23 Jun 2021 12:00
RGB Final Vote - June 23, 2021
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