Even though the first of three Rent Guidelines Board hearings into rent increases for stabilized apartments was a little restrained, the annual battle is still getting a little chippy. Landlords are demanding their customary double-digit increases because of escalating operating costs, and while they won't get that, the range of increases proposed by the RGB is fairly high given previous years' rates. Tenants need a momentum shift, and today, they've got one. The Times' Gretchen Morgensen files a story on the recent trend of private investment firms buying up rent-stabilized buildings, which becomes an exposé on how tenants are being harassed until they leave their apartments. The developers and their investment firm partners claim they are just enforcing the rules, and that's the case in many of these situations. But of course, that's not the truth everywhere, and the Times does a bit of hammering on the "predatory equity" topic. It ain't pretty for Vantage Properties, which has been in the news about harassment before and gets the dreaded Times chart treatment (right). They've purchased 9,200 rent-regulated units in Queens and Upper Manhattan with co-investor Apollo Management in just the past two years, and in one Queens complex with 2,124 apartments, nearly 1,000 housing court cases have been filed. Last month, a group of tenants sued Vantage, alleging that the company has engaged in deceptive practices that violate New York's consumer protection laws.
· Questions of Rent Tactics by Private Equity [NYT]
· Annual Rent War Theater Lacks Drama This Year [Curbed]