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Rent Wars: No Deep Freeze for Rent-Stabilized Apartments

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If there was ever a year for the Rent Guidelines Board?the nine-member panel that sets increases on rent-stabilized units?to put a freeze on the hikes, tenant advocates argue that this is the one. The recession has put a dent in everyone's wallets, and a report released by the board's own staff found that operating expenses for landlords are down and offset by lower fuel oil and insurance costs. But in its 40 years the RGB has never approved a rent freeze or decrease, and after hinting that there will again be increases this year, the board's preliminary vote last night guarantees the streak will be extended. The Rent Guidelines Board is our Cal Ripken!

The proposed increases?2 percent to 4.5 percent for one-year leases and 4 percent to 7.5 percent for two-year leases on rent-stabilized apartments with leases expiring after Sept. 30?were approved by a 6-3 margin. When the final vote is held in June following two more public hearings (and amidst much smuggled-in whistle blowing), the increases will likely be near the low end of those ranges, which will upset both sides?tenant groups because they oppose any increase, and landlord groups because they want more. The Times reports that last night's vote was a relatively subdued affair for the typically raucous RGB hearings. Does the audience think this show is getting old? Heck, even some of the performers think it's a bit stale.
· Rent Board Proposes Increases Despite the Complaints of Tenants [NYT]
· Hikes Give Renters a Break [NYPost]
· Rent Wars: Guidelines Board Theater Makes Its 2009 Debut [Curbed]