By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Rent-stabilized buildings in the Stuyvesant Town and Gramercy area had the greatest increases in rent in Manhattan from 2014 to 2015, a study released by the Rent Guidelines Board found.
According to the data, announced in the 2017 Income and Expense Study discussed at the RGB’s first public meeting of the year last Thursday, rent went up by 7.6 percent in Community District 6, which includes Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village, Gramercy Park and Murray Hill.
Rent increased in every community district in the city in that time frame, with only three Brooklyn neighborhoods with higher increases than district 6.
Although rent increases are governed by the guidelines set out by the RGB, variations occur because of vacancy allowances, the termination of preferential rents, individual apartment improvements and building-wide improvements (major capital improvements).
The study, which examines Real Property Income and Expense (RPIE) statements from rent stabilized buildings filed with the Department of Finance, also found that net operating income (NOI) for owners grew by 10.8 percent, marking the 11th consecutive year that the NOI has increased. The study does not break down the NOI increases by community district, but the increase in core Manhattan, which is defined as south of West 110th Street and south of East 96th Street, was 7.8 percent.
The study also found that the proportion of distressed properties throughout the city declined to the lowest level in the history of the survey, decreasing 0.9 percentage points from the previous year. Properties are considered distressed if the operating and maintenance costs are greater than the gross income.
RGB tenant members Sheila Garcia and Harvey Epstein encouraged the board to have representatives from the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), the state agency that administers rent laws, testify at one of the board’s meetings because the data differs slightly from what is provided by DOF. Epstein argued that analyzing data from DHCR would give the board a more complete picture of how many buildings are struggling and which are not.
“It’s problematic that we’re voting on something and don’t get to see all of the data,” he said. “Rents and (owners’) income have skyrocked while costs seem to have leveled.”
The overall purpose of the study, which looked at information from 2015 because that is the most recent data set currently available, is to examine the conditions in the rent-stabilized housing market and to determine how much the conditions changed from the previous year. Studying both revenue and expenses allows the RGB to more accurately assess the economic conditions affecting the city’s rent stabilized housing stock.
Tenants and landlords will be able to provide testimony at a public meeting later this month, in the Landmarks Preservation Commission conference room at 1 Centre Street on the ninth floor. The preliminary vote will take place at Cooper Union’s Great Hall, 7 East 7th Street, on Tuesday, April 25 at 7 p.m.
The RGB’s next public meeting, Thursday, April 13 at 9:30 a.m., will take place at 1 Centre Street as well and will include a presentation on the Price Index of Operating Costs, which the board also considers when voting on the annual rent increases.
Note: An earlier headline for this story didn’t reflect that the study was focused on rent stabilized properties, as opposed to all.