Posted by real deal on June 21, 2001 at 08:17:01:
In Reply to: RGB votes rent inceases posted by JJ on June 20, 2001 at 23:48:15:
June 21, 2001
Rent Board Votes Bigger Increases for
By BRUCE LAMBERT
ithout warning, the New
York City Rent Guidelines
Board reversed itself last night by
imposing increases one percentage
point higher than it proposed a
month ago: 4 percent for one-year lease renewals and 6 percent
for two-year leases.
The new rules, which are final, apply to about 2.3 million
tenants in rent-stabilized apartments for leases renewed
between Oct. 1, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2002.
The board's surprise decision, at a raucous meeting at Cooper
Union in Manhattan, drew angry outbursts from about 200
Chants of "Down with the rents" and "Shame, shame, shame"
forced the board to call several recesses in an effort to restore
The last-minute vote reflected a sudden turnabout by the board,
and tenant leaders blamed Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani for the
change of heart. Just six weeks ago the mayor made an unusual
attempt to hold the increases to 3 percent for one-year leases
and 5 percent for two-year leases. The board, with three new
Giuliani appointees, complied and accepted those numbers.
What happened since then to change the board's vote was
unclear. Landlord groups complained that the proposed increase
was not high enough to meet their rising costs, especially for
Tenant leaders criticized the mayor and the board majority after
the vote yesterday. "The landlords got to Giuliani," said
Michael McKee, the associate director of the New York State
Tenants and Neighbors Coalition. "It's an outrage, a disgrace."
As evidence of Mr. Giuliani's influence, tenant leaders pointed
out that all three of his new appointees switched their votes in
support of the higher rents.
The board's new chairman, Steven Sinacori, a former
administration aide, serves at the mayor's pleasure, meaning that
he can be replaced at any time.
Asked to comment last night, the Giuliani administration would
not do so.
Landlord representatives said the final increases adopted by the
board were an improvement, but were still not enough. "The 4
and 6 at least was in the right direction, but it falls far below
what is really needed," said Joseph Strasburg, president of the
city's largest landlords' organization, the Rent Stabilization
Mr. Strasburg said the rates would reduce landlords' income
and "result in abandonment and the loss of housing."
Besides adopting the general apartment rent increases, the
board approved loft rent increases of 1 percent for one year and
2 percent for two years, and residential hotel increases of 2
percent a year.
In one major concession to tenants, the board rescinded a $15
monthly surcharge on nearly 200,000 apartments renting for less
than $500. Tenants had opposed that levy, which the board had
imposed for the last seven years, as a "poor tax," unfairly
burdening those least able to pay.
The pivotal vote on the surcharge came from a new member,
Mort J. Starobin. "Mort Starobin is a hero; he voted his
conscience," said Mr. McKee, the leader of the tenants' group.
Last night's surprise vote capped what tenant and landlord
leaders said was perhaps the strangest year in the board's three
decades. One episode now seems especially peculiar, given the
eventual result. On May 9, the board first narrowly approved
increases of 4 and 6 percent, but quickly recessed and returned
to say that one new member had misunderstood the motion.
A new roll call was taken and, with the one member's vote
changing, the board approved 3 and 5 percent increases instead.
Last night, the board was back at 4 and 6 percent, this time for
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