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Rent Wars: Stabilized Apartments Up for 40th Straight Year

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Last night the Rent Guidelines Board?the nine-member panel that sets annual rent increases on rent-stabilized apartments while an angry crowd berates them?voted in favor of increasing rents once again, and as expected the increases were on the lower end of the proposed range. By a 5-4 vote after much debate and maneuvering, increases of 3% on one-year leases and 6% on two-year leases were approved. Tenant groups demanded a rent freeze due to the recession, and landlord groups wanted larger increases because of rising operating costs (last year's hikes were 4.5% and 8.5%), so neither side got what they wanted. Though the Post?which gives us the chart seen at right?reports that board members had to wear headphones to hear each other over the crowd, the Times notes that the atmosphere was relatively subdued thanks to a silent protest (tenants wearing tape with "0%" written on it over their mouths) and a walk-out after a motion to freeze rents was shot down.

Like last year, one of the more controversial moves of the night was the RGB imposing supplemental increases on tenants paying under $1,000 per month on apartments they've lived in for at least six years. In those cases, landlords can use the set percentage hikes, or opt for $30 (on one-year leases) and $60 (on two-year leases) monthly increases. Tenant groups have called this a "poor tax," and a lawsuit filed against last year's similar supplemental increases is still pending. As for the board itself, the increased attention this year seems to have done some damage. The members have been dealing with immense pressure from all sides, especially since Mayor Bloomberg (who appoints the board) has refused to wade into the debate. The Post comments that it "has become an increasingly fractious body." Get some rest, everyone, and we'll see you next year!
· All-Out Rent War! [NYP]
· Despite Pleas for a Freeze, Stabilized Rents to Go Up [NYT]
· Rent Guidelines Board coverage [Curbed]