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Talking Points for the RGB

Rent Guidelines Board Public Hearings

Tenant Talking Points

 

SUMMARY OF PROPOSED RANGE OF RENT ADJUSTMENTS

At the RGB Preliminary Vote, the Rent Guidelines Board voted for rent increases ranging from 3%-5.75% for one year renewal leases commencing October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012 and from 6%-9% for two year renewal leases commencing October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012. In addition, the Board voted on a 1% fuel surcharge for buildings heated by fuel oil and a sublet allowance of 10%.

 

SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS

 

1. YOU

• Introduce yourself and provide personal details. We want to show the RGB how diverse rent stabilized tenants are. Make sure to include that you are a vital member of New York City and the ways you contribute to your community.

• Include information about the economic hardship you may be facing. For example, include if you live on a fixed income, if you lost your job, if you are supporting your kids or other members of your household, or if you are working a few jobs to support yourself.

• If you are a member of Tenants & Neighbors, please mention this to the RGB members.

 

 

2. YOUR HOUSING

• Tenancy: How long have you lived in your apartment?

o Are there many tenants in your building paying market rent OR is there a commercial unit in your building (a local business or non-profit renting space)?

 If so, emphasize that your landlord has other sources of income than the rent from rent stabilized units. Recommend that the Board pass the proviso presented by the tenant representatives where tenants should receive a 0% increase if they live in a building where less than 80% of units are occupied by rent stabilized or rent controlled units.

o Is there much turnover in your building?

 If so, emphasize that your landlord receives large rent increases each time there is a vacancy.

• Heating: Is your building heated with fuel oil? Is your building heated inefficiently? (Do you have to open a window in the winter? Is your apartment weatherized?)

 If so, recommend that the Board abolish the proposed fuel surcharge. Emphasize that you are bearing the cost of your owner’s decision to heat the building inefficiently and waste expensive oil.

• Services: What is the quality of services in your building?

o Does management make repairs? Are there days that you have gone without heat and hot water? Does your building have many code violations? Do you call 311 to report code violations?

 If so, recommend that buildings with high code violations should not receive rent increases for quality of services that does not meet habitability standards.

• Rent:

o Preferential Rent: Do you receive a preferential rent? If so, are you worried that when you sign your next lease renewal that your rent will be raised to the registered rent?

o Permanent Rent Increases: Have you received MCI (Major Capital Improvements) for building structural improvements or 1/40th rent increases for apartment renovations? How do these permanent rent increases impact your ability to pay each month’s rent?

 If you have had a MCI or 1/40th increase, emphasize that owners are reimbursed more than the cost of the improvement because these rent increases are permanent. Emphasize that the RGB should take into account that owners have other mechanisms for raising rent beyond RGB adjustments and therefore should pass the lowest possible rent increase.

o Illegal Overcharges: Do you believe that your rent has been illegally overcharged?

o SCRIE/DRIE: Do you qualify for these programs? If not, why? Are you just above the income threshold ($29,000 for SCRIE or $19,284 for an individual under DRIE)?

o Casado: Were you affected by the supplemental rent increase?

 If so, please speak concretely about how you were affected. Are you now paying more than 30% of your income towards rent? If so, please tell the RGB.

• Predatory Equity Questions:

o Is your owner a predatory equity landlord who has intentionally overpaid for your building, intending to displace tenants and destabilize units?

 

 

3. YOUR OWNER

A. Owners should bear their fair share of economic burden because their profits are increasing. The average net operating income (NOI) for owners throughout the city increased by 5.8% and increased 22.2% for all areas excluding Core Manhattan, according to RGB statistics. This figure is the income owners receive after they have paid off expenses.

By Borough:

• Brooklyn: In my borough, from 2008-2009, the median NOI for owners in Brooklyn increased by 22.3% according to the latest RGB statistics.

• Queens: In my borough, from 2008-2009, the median NOI for owners in Queens increased by 9.9% according to the latest RGB statistics.

• The Bronx: In my borough, from 2008-2009, the median NOI for owners in the Bronx increased by 29.9% according to the latest RGB statistics.

• Upper Manhattan: In Upper Manhattan, from 2008-2009, the median NOI for owners in Upper Manhattan increased by 22.3% according to RGB statistics.

 

* The RGB does not prepare statistics for Staten Island because there is too small a sample size of rent stabilized units. Staten Island households are not included in citywide numbers.

 

4. YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS

• RGB should consider a 0% rent increase for all tenants. If there is an increase, it should not be any higher than what the data presented by the RGB warrants and the RGB should keep in mind the incredible hardship that any increase at all will cause to most low and moderate income tenants.

• Certain tenants should receive no increase at all (e.g. tenants in buildings with high numbers of units that have already been deregulated and tenants in buildings with poor conditions).

• The RGB should not vote for a fuel surcharge.

 

Tenants & Neighbors is a grassroots non-profit organization that works with tenants to preserve affordable housing and strengthen tenants’ rights. For more information about testifying at the RGB, contact Jessie at 212-608-4320 ext. 306 or jlevine@tandn.org.