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NYC’s Rent Guidelines Board Votes To Allow Rent Increases In Stabilized Apartments

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Tenants erupted in protest, but some landlords were also unhappy Monday night, when the New York City Rent Guidelines Board voted against a rent freeze for tenants who live in stabilized apartments.

NYC's Rent Guidelines Board Votes To Allow Rent Increases In Stabilized Apartments

rent1 NYCs Rent Guidelines Board Votes To Allow Rent Increases In Stabilized Apartments
Gary Baumgarten reports

The board voted 5-4 to allow a 1 percent increase on one-year leases, and a 2.75 percent increase on two-year leases.

After the vote, angry tenants erupted — waving signs and storming up to the podium as they chanted and yelled, reported WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. They were held back by security guards.

NYC's Rent Guidelines Board Votes To Allow Rent Increases In Stabilized Apartments

rent1 NYCs Rent Guidelines Board Votes To Allow Rent Increases In Stabilized Apartments
Marla Diamond reports

‘No rent freeze, no peace,” renters shouted throughout the nearly two-hour meeting.

“I am angry. I am angry. I am an angry woman. I mean my landlord and these landlords, they are killing tenants in Brooklyn. They are driving people homeless,” Flatbush resident Jean Folkes said.

But neither side seemed happy. Landlords told Diamond the rent hikes were not large enough.

“Obviously, that rent increase will make it difficult for small owners to maintain and operate buildings. If this is what the board under (Mayor Bill) de Blasio continues, there’s gonna be a real problem going forward,” landlord Jack Freund said.

Mayor de Blasio and city Public Advocate Letitia James were among those trying to convince the board to freeze rents for the city’s 1 million rent-stabilized tenants for the first time in its history.

“It’s quite striking that we’ve had a pattern in recent years of tenants being charged substantial increase while the actual cost to landlords did not increase anywhere near the same amount,” de Blasio said Monday, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.

A majority of the Rent Guidelines Board members were appointed by de Blasio, 1010 WINS reported.

“New York should be a place everyone can afford to live,” James said before the vote. “Rent increases have allowed landlords to maintain high operating incomes while tenants’ incomes have stagnated.”

While de Blasio did not get exactly what he wanted, political experts said that the decision is still a win.

“To some extent this becomes the best thing possible that he could have. An increase lower than anybody expects, but still giving something to the landlords,” David Birdsell explained.

Tenants and others have claimed that the board has overestimated landlord costs in recent years. But landlords say this year, they face a 5.7 percent spike in operating costs.

“When you look at a rent freeze, you can’t make any connection with that number and the data that was presented to the board, so the only logical explanation is that it’s politically generated,” said Jimmy Silber, vice president of the Small Property Owners of New York.

Last year, the net operating income for building owners increased throughout the city by 9.6 percent, making it the eighth straight year they’ve seen profits grow.

Tenants say their incomes are staying the same, making it nearly impossible to make ends meet.

“The working poor are getting squeezed like never before by rising rents,” said city Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Thomas Williams pays $984 a month for a one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. He lives on a pension from the NYPD and wonders how long he’ll be able to afford housing in the city.

“I want to be able to afford to live here in New York, the city I love, the city I’ve given blood for over 23 years,” he CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider.

If the board had agreed to a rent freeze, it would have been the first time in its 45-year history.

Landlords were seeking a 6 percent increase for a one-year lease and 9.5 percent for a two-year lease.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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