By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Rent stabilized tenants geared up for the upcoming Rent Guidelines Board vote at a rally before the board’s first public meeting of the year this past Thursday morning. Encouraged by a recent ruling by the New York Supreme Court, tenant advocates pushed for a rent rollback.
“As Judge Debra James ruled in her courtroom on Tuesday, the RGB must consider tenant affordability, along with landlord expenses, income and profit,” said Anne Cunningham, a tenant of a residential hotel on the Upper West Side who has been coming to RGB-related housings rights protests for more than 30 years. “And when the RGB votes, they must consider a rent rollback for tenants as a fair and reasonable rent adjustment.”
The ruling on Tuesday was the result of a lawsuit filed by the Rent Stabilization Association, which claimed that the freeze was imposed by the mayor for political reasons and the board shouldn’t take tenant affordability into account when making their decision.
Other tenants at the rally argued that limiting the rent freeze to one-year leases was unfair to tenants who wanted some sense of security in their living situation, because while many tenants wanted to sign two-year leases, the two-percent increase voted on by the board last year was still too steep for some.
Tenants fighting for the rollback said they were frustrated by the increases voted on during the Bloomberg administration and that because of so many years of rising rents, a decrease in rents is warranted.
“Mayor Bloomberg really raised rents in an unfair fashion,” said Upper West Side resident Maxine Zeifman. “Everyone on the board when he was the mayor was from Wall Street and the banks. We really need these rent regulations to keep it from getting even worse.”
The meeting itself, held in a conference room at the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1 Centre Street, included presentations from RGB staff on the most recent income and expense study and the mortgage survey report. Tenants and landlords will be able to provide testimony at another public meeting, held on April 20, also in the Landmarks Preservation conference room.