Rent Guidelines Board hears testimony on potential rent hikes

Originally published by Nia Clark | Spectrum News NY1, April 27, 2023


New York’s housing crisis has been a sore spot for many renters who find rent unaffordable.

Rent prices could increase further for people occupying rent-stabilized apartments if the city’s Rent Guidelines Board votes to do so.

“I have reported broken windows, unsanitary trash rooms. We have problems with the rodents’ infestation,” renter Luis Deno said.

Deno is outraged after hearing that his landlord could possibly raise his rent, especially when there are so many maintenance issues that have gone unaddressed.

“It’ll be higher payments, talking about 16%. It’ll be an increase of $90 or more on our apartment lease,” he said.

That is no small chunk of change, since he supports a family of three on his income as a transit worker.

He’s among New Yorkers living in the nearly 1 million rent-stabilized apartments worried about how much the Rent Guidelines Board will allow their landlords to raise their rents.

“Over the pandemic people have suffered tremendously with loss of income, and there’s no raises in pay even for those who’ve been working and yet rents seem to go up,” said George Sotiroff, a member of Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA).

Tenants testified before a Rent Guidelines Board meeting Thursday to appeal to board members not to raise rent rates.

The meeting comes as a new study by the Fund for the City of New York and the United Way of New York City found that 50% of working-age city households do not earn enough to meet basic needs. That’s nearly 1.3 million homes and nearly three million people.

The board’s study on the costs to run buildings found inflation has hit landlords hard as well.

The report found they would need between 5% and 8% rent increases for one-year leases and between 6% and 16% for two-year leases in order to maintain the same profits from prior years.

“Market rate units that we had rented at a much lower than they had been previously,” said Ann Korchak, president of Small Property Owners of New York. “Our expenses have been increasing, particularly our property taxes. We’ve seen about a $25,000 increase in our property taxes.”

Her family has owned several buildings in Manhattan for 80 years.

She said she believes landlords such as herself are just asking the board to do what’s fair.

“As housing costs increase rents have to increase and it’s the boards role to make that decision,” Korchak said.

“I’m not only concerned about me but I’m concern about all of the tenants that I know for a fact don’t have the same financial resources that I have,” Deno said.

The board will hold one more final public meeting regarding rent guidelines on May 25 ahead of the final vote in June.