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Rent Guidelines Board Approves Preliminary Rate Hikes

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The Rent Guidelines Board passed a preliminary series of increases Wednesday that could affect one and two-year leases among the city's one-million rent-regulated apartments.

Following a meeting at Cooper Union, the board voted 5-to-4 in favor of a two to four percent increase on one-year leases, and a four to six percent increase on two-year leases.

The nine-member panel will now hold a series of public hearings before holding a final vote next month. Any increases would take effect on October 1.

Two panel members represent building owners, another two represent tenants and five are public, nonpartisan members.

While Wednesday night's meeting was public, there was no public testimony.

As usual, landlords and tenants disagree over the need for rent hikes.

"I'm a senior citizen. I'm living on a fixed income. Please don't raise my rent,” said Stuyvesant Town resident Oria Grimm.

"To keep affordable housing for middle class, they need to keep the rents as low as possible,” said another Stuy Town resident.

"I don't want to pay anymore than I have to,” echoed a third.

Yet landlords say the economy has been rough on them as well. The Rent Stabilization Association, a group that represents 25,000 property owners, points to higher fuel costs, property taxes and labor.

"They need to just stay even is their problem, and they are not staying even,” said Frank Ricci of the RSA. “They are falling behind year after year."

It was pretty hard to find any tenants who want their rent to go up, but there were a few who said they understood the point of view of the landlords.

"I'm okay with it because I feel like the landlords costs do go up and this is not an entitlement,” said a tenant. “I mean, everyone else’s rent goes up hugely."

"I don't think people who own buildings should be forced to lose money on them,” agreed another.

Last year, the board approved a three-percent increase for one-year lease renewals and up to a six percent increase on two-year leases.

The public will be able to speak out in the coming weeks leading up to a final vote late next month.

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