Now that LeBron James and the Miami Heat have managed to repeat as NBA Champions, the title for "Group of People Most Likely to Disappoint" once again belongs to New York City's Rent Guidelines Board, which voted last night to increase annual rents on rent-stabilized apartments and lofts by 4 percent for one-year leases and 7.75 percent for two-year leases. The numbers represent a jump from last year, when the board voted for increases of 2 percent on one-year leases and 4 percent on two-year leases. While the board's pro-landlord membership initially sought increases as high as 6.25 percent on one-year leases and 9.5 percent on two-year leases, and pro-tenant members advocated for increases of, well, zero, it was the decidedly moderate proposal presented by board chair Jonathan Kimmel that carried the night amid an almost unending cacophony of hollered criticism in Cooper Union's Great Hall.
Although discontent continued to emanate from both the audience and the board even after the vote, landlords on hand to watch the proceedings proved somewhat less incorrigible than their representatives. "We can live with this," admitted one property owner as he exited. Tenants appeared universally disappointed. But while pro-tenant and pro-landlord members alike recognized the hardships faced by New York's lowest income renters, the Board argued that its guidelines amounted to a "blunt instrument" and were "powerless" to affect any relief in favor of tenants. Instead, blame was directed toward elected officials who "pass the ball" to the RGB.
Tenants did come away with a small victory as no rent increases were applied to residential hotels and SROs. Unfortunately, at 30,000 units city-wide, SROs account for less than 2 percent of the city's entire rent-regulated housing supply; fittingly, only two people were seen hugging following the vote on SRO rent guidelines.