by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
Well, hear we go again with the "Haves" vs. the "Have Nots", better known as the Rent Guidlines Board Hearings. And if it wasn't so ludicrous, it might even be taken seriously as an attempt on the part of the City of New York to provide orderly, justifiable rental increases. But really, it's a joke being played on New Yorkers, and we've danced to this game for quite some time now. And while we've done so, we've continued to lose ground to those who see us as their personal cash cows.
NEW YORK TENANTS SAY: NO RENT HIKE!
Every year landlords bully the Rent Guidelines Board into giving them a rent increase. This year is no exception.
According to the R. G. B.’s 2009 Income and Expense Study, landlords are doing quite well; pocketing an average of thirty-seven cents of every dollar of tenant’s rent. Nevertheless, this year the R.G.B. is proposing a rent hike range of 4% to 7.5% for one year leases and 4.5% to 8.5% for two year leases. This is not acceptable to tenants! Especially not at a time when most of us are paying a third of our incomes for rent and more than one in four of us are paying least half of our income one rent.
We believe that the RGB’s proposal will further divide us into a city of haves and have-nots and that it is time for drastic change. Tenants & Neighbors calls for a rent freeze and for a reform of the RGB.
Join us in demanding:
* No rent hike this year!
* Reform the RGB so that tenants have an equal voice!
Testify at the RCB Hearings (See schedule)
JOIN THE REAL RENT REFORM CAMPAIGN NOW
TENANTS& NEIGHBORS Contact: 212-608-4320, ext. 316
Rent Guidelines Board Meeting Schedule
Public Meeting: Thursday, June 3, 2010 9:30 A.M. to 12:00 P.M.,
Department of City Planning, Spector Hall, 22 Read Street, Manhattan
There is no opportunity to testify at this meeting
Public Hearing: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 4:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M.,
LaGuardia Performing Arts Center 31-10 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City
(Use entrance on Van Dam Street, just north of 47th Avenue)
Train: 7 train to 33rd Street in Queens
Tenants can testify at this hearing
Public Hearing: Wednesday, June 17, 2010 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.,
The Great Hall at Cooper Union, 7 East 7th Street, Manhattan
Train: R, W to 8th Street or 6 to Astor Place
Tenants can testify at this hearing
Final Vote: Tuesday, June 24, 2010 5:30 P.M. to 9:30 P.M.
Note: The RGB reserves the right to cancel or reschedule public meetings.
To confirm the schedule or to register to testify at one of the hearings,
Call the RGB at 212-385-2934 est. 11 or go to www.housingnyc.com
Process By Which the Rent Guidelines Board Determines The Guidelines (for your edification, I pulled this from their website the comments in ALL CAPS is me):
How To Communicate Your Views
How to Obtain Meetings/Hearings Schedule
Final Orders and Explanatory Statements
Each year, the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) establishes the lease guidelines for rent stabilized apartments and hotels. The Rent Stabilization Law sets forth the factors that must be considered by the Board prior to the adoption of rent guidelines. These include:
1. the economic condition of the residential real estate industry in N.Y.C. including such factors as the prevailing and projected (i) real estate taxes and sewer and water rates, (ii) gross operating maintenance costs (including insurance rates, governmental fees, cost of fuel and labor costs), (iii) costs and availability of financing (including effective rates of interest), (iv) over-all supply of housing accommodations and over-all vacancy rates,
(NOTE THEY START THEIR LEVEL OF CONCERN WITH THE STATE OF THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY, NOT WITH THE STATE OF THE TENANTS WHO ARE RENTING FROM THEM, WHO ARE AFFECTED BY ADVERSE ECONOMIC FORCES SUCH AS UNEMPLOYMENT AND UNDER EMPLOYMENT. THE RULE OF PEOPLE FIRST IS TOTALLY IGNORED; IT'S MORE "POCKET FIRST" WITH THEM. WE'VE BEEN REDUCED TO STATS AND PER CENTAGES. NOTHING TO DO WHATSOEVER WITH QUALITY OF LIVING, DELIVERY OF SERVICES OR ANY OF THE OTHER ISSUES THAT ARE ALSO FACTOR IN DETERMINING THESE THINGS FROM A PEOPLE-ORIENTED STANDPOINT.)
2. relevant data from the current and projected cost of living indices for the affected area, and
(THIS CAN'T POSSIBLY BE A TRUE STATEMENT, OR THE INFORMATION IS DISTORTED, BASED ON THE UPPER LEVEL SALARIES RECEIVED IN MID-TOWN MANHATTAN, AS OPPOSED TO REAL LIFE INCOMES OF MOST NEW YORKERS WHO ARE FORCED TO CHOSE BETWEEN ROOF OVER HEAD OR FOOD ON THE TABLE BECAUSE OF UNCONSCIONABLE RENT INCREASES -- HOW CAN YOU ASK THE FOX TO MIND THE HENHOUSE. THE INFORMATION IS GATHERED BY INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE A VESTED INTEREST IN INFLATING INCOMES SO THEY ARE FRAUDULENTLY REFLECTIVE OF THE INCREASED RENTS AS OPPOSED TO THE REAL SALARIES THAT WOULD INDICATE THEY ARE LITERALLY AND DELIBERATELY PUSHING FAMILIES OUT OF THEIR HOMES BY DISTORTED ECONOMIC INDICES)THEIR GOAL IS TO PUSH THE RENTS UP ABOVE THE MAGIC $2000 PER MONTH SO THEY CAN DECONTROL THE UNIT AND INCREASE RENTS AT WILL.
QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN NO ONE CAN AFFORD THE RENTS? HOW MANY NEW YORKERS CAN BE EVICTED AND PUSHED INTO THE STREETS BEFORE EITHER THE CITY WAKES UP TO ITS OWN STUPIDITY, OR THE PEOPLE BEGIN TO PUSH BACK AND TAKE BACK THEIR RIGHTS?
3. such other data as may be made available to it. WHAT AN INTERESTING CONCEPT. THE TENANTS AND RESIDENTS OF NEW YORK HAVE BEEN PROVIDING RELEVANT DATA FOR DECADES, AND THE RENT GUIDELINES HAND PICKED BOARD HAS CONSISTENTLY IGNORED THEM. I SHOULD SAY CONSISTENLY AND CALLOUSLY IGNORED THEM. IT THE BOARD IS TO BE COMPRISED TOTALLY OF INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE MADE UP OF THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY AND THEIR FRIENDS, WHO REALLY ADVOCATES FOR THE TENANTS. BY THE WAY, SINCE IT'S BEEN ASCERTAINED THAT MOST OF THE PROPERTIES ON THE MARKET IN NYC WERE HORRIBLY OVER PRICE, AND PEOPLE WERE REQUIRED TO PAY FOR INFLATED VALUE, IT STANDS TO REASON THAT THE SAME PROBLEM ACCRUES TO THOSE OVER INFLATED RENTALS THAT WERE BASED ON THE SALES AND MARKET DATA THAT HAS BEEN RIGGED BY THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY. IT MAY WELL BE THAT THERE SHOULD BE AT LEAST A 35% ROLL BACK ON RENTALS JUST AS THERE IS FOR THOSE OVER INFLATED PROPERTIES ON THE MARKET.
How To Communicate Your Views
I STRONGLY SUGGEST THAT WE AS THE TENANTS OF NEW YORK WHO MAKE UP THE MAJORITY POPULATION OF NEW YORKERS STOP JUST PROTESTING, AND BEGIN TAKING ACTION. WE NEED OUR OWN LAWYER (JOHNNY COCHRANE IS DEAD SO CHOSE WISELY), AND BEGIN TO DEVISE ACTION ORIENTED PROTOCOLS THAT NOT ONLY SEND CLEAR MESSAGES TO THE RGB THAT THEIR LEGITIMACY IS OVER IN NEW YORK, BUT EFFECTIVELY PUTS FAIR AND EQUITABLE AND - MOST OF ALL TRULY AFFORDABLE - RENT IN NEW YORK IS A RIGHT NOT AN OPTION.
Members of the public are invited to attend meetings and hearings held by the RGB. Those wishing to do so may communicate their views to the RGB via two methods:
1. Testify at Hearings (details below)(Please note, however, that the public cannot address the Board at meetings.)
2. Submit written testimony: You may submit your views in writing by addressing them to the Chairman, or any Board member, c/o NYC Rent Guidelines Board, 51 Chambers St., Suite 202, New York, NY 10007 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following is a summary of the annual procedures by which the RGB determines lease renewal guidelines for rent stabilized apartments and hotels:
The Board typically holds eight to ten meetings per year to discuss its research agenda, review staff reports and to hear testimony from invited guests including public officials, housing experts and industry and tenant representatives. In accordance with the Open Meetings Law every meeting of the Board must be open to the public, except when circumstances warrant executive sessions. While the public may attend any public meetings, they are not allowed to address the Board unless invited.
Public notice of any meeting scheduled at least one week in advance must be provided to the press and conspicuously posted in a public location at least 72 hours before the meeting. Notice of meetings scheduled less than one week in advance must be given, to the extent practicable, to the press, and publicly posted at a reasonable time before the meeting. The schedule of Board meetings is usually discussed and resolved in the early spring and is published in the City Record.
The Rent Stabilization Law and City Charter mandates annual hearings prior to the adoption of rent guidelines. Separate hearings are held for the apartment and hotel sectors. Notice of the hearings is provided in the City Record for eight days and at least once in a newspaper of general circulation at least eight days before the hearing. The hearings are usually held in mid-June just prior to the Board's July 1st deadline for promulgating new guidelines.
Any person who wishes to testify has a legal right to do so, and the Board has traditionally allowed three minutes for each speaker, alternating between owner and tenant representatives. Speakers have also been permitted to register in advance of the hearings and pre-registered speakers are given priority in the order of speakers. The hearings usually begin with testimony from public officials invited by the Board. Details on how to speak at the hearings can be found in the Public Notice, which will be released a few weeks prior to the hearings.
Two meetings are held each year for a vote on rent adjustments: the meeting to adopt proposed guidelines discussed above, and the meeting to adopt the final guidelines. At voting meetings, the public may attend and listen to proceedings, but may not address the Board. While the Chair and the Board establish the order of business, a typical voting meeting will proceed as follows:
* Board members attention will be called to drafts of the apartment (and loft) orders in their folders. At the meeting on the proposed guidelines, these drafts will consist of the prior year's order with blank spaces where rent adjustments will be entered. Approving this "boilerplate" language will usually be the first order of business. At the meeting to consider the "final" guidelines, members will have copies of the proposed orders. The first order of business will typically be to adopt the language of the proposed orders except insofar as they are amended at that meeting.
* Board members attention will then be called to the hotel orders and a similar process of boilerplate approval will occur.
* The floor will be opened to proposals on apartment guidelines for one and two year leases. Other elements of rent adjustments such as supplemental increases for low rent apartments or a vacancy factor for sublets may be "packaged" with the apartment guidelines. Votes are taken on each proposal in accordance with Roberts Rules, until at least five votes can be mustered for an apartment order.
* Loft guidelines are considered separately in a like fashion.
* The Board will then consider the "special guideline" for units coming out of rent control.
* The next order of business is usually the "hotel" orders. There are five groups of hotel stabilized units: Class A and Class B hotels, rooming houses, SRO's and lodging houses. These groups may be addressed separately or together. Voting proceeds in the same fashion as for apartments.
* Any special or new items of business may be introduced at any time, but any material change in the order of business will require a majority vote.
* Once all business has concluded at the final meeting, the Chair will ask the Board to approve staff preparation of explanatory statements reflecting the information presented to the Board and the major findings of the year (i.e. price index, income and expense data, witness testimony etc.). These will be circulated to Board members prior to publication.
* A motion to adjourn will be taken.
How To Obtain Meetings/Hearings Schedule
The meetings/hearings schedule for the year is usually determined by the middle of February. However, meetings are subject to change, following the procedures described above. Members of the public may obtain the schedule of meetings/hearings by:
1. Checking the Meetings section of our website
2. Writing the RGB at: NYC Rent Guidelines Board, 51 Chambers St., Suite 202, New York, NY 10007, Attn: Meetings/Hearings Schedule
3. E-mailing the RGB: email@example.com
4. Calling the RGB: (212) 385-2934
Final Orders and Explanatory Statements
Usually about one week after the final vote, the Board's orders and related explanatory statements are filed with the City Clerk and published in the City Record. The Rent Stabilization Law directs that the filing of the Board's orders and its findings--i.e. the explanatory statements--must be completed not later than July 1st of each year.
Once the language of the orders is reviewed and approved by Corporation Counsel, the orders and explanatory statements should be published in the City Record as soon as is practicable. The final orders and explanatory statements should be forwarded to City Council for its information and published at least 30 days (by August 31st) before the first effective date of the orders (October 1st).
The guidelines themselves go into effect for leases being renewed and vacancies occurring on or after October 1st of the same year, and on or before September 30th of the following year. Most hotel/SRO tenants do not have leases and pay the new rent immediately upon the effective date of the hotel guidelines--which is also October 1st. The orders of the Board are final unless found to be unlawful by a court of competent jurisdiction. A 1991 court ruling indicates that any legal challenge to the Board's orders must be initiated within four months.
After they are filed with the City Clerk, the public may view and/or download Orders and Explanatory Statements in the Rent Guidelines section of our website: Apartments/Lofts and Hotels.
THERE SHOULD BE A FORENSIC INVESTIGATION OF THE RGB FOR ANY AND ALL OF THEIR PAST DECISIONS TO DETERMINE WHETHER ANY OF THE RENT INCREASES GRANTED IN THE LAST 10 YEARS THAT INCREASED RENTS IN THE MOST DEPRESSED AREAS OF NEW YORK AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THEY WERE EQUITABLY DETERMINED. AS WITH THE RESIDENTS OF STUYVESANT TOWN, THERE HAVE BEEN SOME EGREGIOUS ACTS OF DECEPTION, DISTORTION, AND GREED. NOW IS THE TIME TO PUT A STOP TO THESE PRACTICES. AS WITH EVERYTHING ELSE, THE RGB CAN NOT BE BUSINESS AS USUAL WHILE THE REST OF NEW YORK IS TWISTING IN THE WIND. THEY EITHER HAVE TO BE REFORMATTED OR DISMANTLED AND REPLACED.
GET UP! STAND UP! STOP THE MADNESS,
Stay Blessed &