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The annual battle begins: focus on NYC stabilized rents

Talk about a disconnect.

We have cited a common refrain in past select posts on our blog at the New York City pro-tenants' law firm of Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph, LLP. Namely, that is that legions of city landlords have made outsized profits over the years, notwithstanding their persistent claims that increases in rents for stabilized housing stock are paltry and threatening their economic viability.

That fact-versus-fiction dichotomy comes into focus each year around this time in tandem with proposals and a final determination of annual rent increases on one- and two-year rent-stabilized leases by the city's Rent Guidelines Board. That entity convened last week at Cooper Union in what one media account describes as a "rowdy meeting."

Its conclusion: The RGB will now consider raising the shorter lease period rent by up to 2.75 percent this fall. The maximum possible increase for two-year leases is 3.75 percent.

The discussion and upcoming public meetings preceding the RGB's final vote on June 26 are truly a big deal, given the effect of the board's determinations on approximately one million rent-stabilized apartments across the vast metro.
One tenants' spokesperson says that renters' interests are unquestionably being deemphasized by the proposed rate jump. If realized at the top end, the lease rental spikes would spell the biggest uptick in years.

"We agree that real estate should keep making profit," noted that individual, "but not because of tenants' suffering."

Unsurprisingly, the Rent Stabilization Association - the largest lobbying group for the metro's landlords - spins a different tune. The RSA contends that, despite the potentially sizable jump that could occur in lease amounts, the numbers are still "abysmally low."

In other words, landlords want even more. A broad-based band of critics states that the realization of such a demand would undermine the stability of New York City's diverse neighborhoods and inject greater irrationality into the housing market.