Press "Enter" to skip to content

Small property owners cry out that rent hikes are sorely needed

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | For the third straight year under Mayor Eric Adams, the Rent Guidelines Board has socked it to New York City’s rent-regulated tenants.

Monday night, the R.G.B. voted 5-4 to raise rents 2.75 percent for one-year leases and 5.25 percent for two-year leases.

The mayor, a small property owner himself, has consistently said landlords must have the raises in order to keep up with operating and maintenance costs.

“Our volunteer Rent Guidelines Board members are charged with a vital but challenging task: protect tenants from unfair rent increases while also protecting the future of rent-stabilized homes,” Adams said after the vote. “The data reviewed by the board this year makes clear that our city’s tenants are facing a severe housing and affordability crisis, and that the quality of our city’s rent-stabilized homes is threatened by growing operating and maintenance costs for owners.

“Since preliminary increases were released last month, we made clear that the high end of the proposed rent increases was untenable,” Adams said. “That is why we are grateful for the board’s careful consideration of the data and their decision to limit increases this year.”

However, Michael McKee, a longtime tenant advocate with TenantsPAC, scoffs this is simply the annual R.G.B. “charade,” where a range of rent increases is offered and the final result lands somewhere in the middle — but is still a blow for struggling tenants living in the city’s more than 1 million rent-regulated apartments.

Yet, Ann Korchak, a board member of the Small Property Owners of NY, or SPONY, said the increases actually did not go far enough, and that the real problem is spiraling operating costs.

“Costs continue to escalate,” she said, “and the [R.G.B.] continues to underfund these old rent-stabilized buildings with increases that don’t keep pace with inflation and increasing operating expenses.”

SPONY claims around 700 landlord members, including a sizable number in Chinatown and Lower Manhattan, as well as the Upper West Side, where Korchak’s family — whom she described as “committed, responsible owners” — has two 10-unit buildings that they bought in 1941 and 1965.

Korchak said she tried to testify at an R.G.B. public hearing one week before the final vote and was “shouted at and heckled by the audience.”

“The process has completely broken down,” she said. “The hearings have become a circus where no meaningful dialogue can occur. The crowd intimidates the owners that come to speak and have taken to social media to intimidate the owner and public members of the board.”

Korchak said her statement was interrupted so many times by raucous tenants “that it lost all meaning.”

“It took four years for our rent roll to recover from COVID,” she told the hearing, in part. “During that time, we saw our expenses increase at an alarming rate. My property taxes were $78,000 in fiscal year 2021 and now they are $102,000. My insurance was under $13,000 in 2020 and I’m currently paying close to $23,000; I would expect that it will be close to $30,000 in 2025. It cost me over $20,000 in legal fees to deal with a hoarder case so that we could get access to make repairs in the unit; that was equal to a whole year’s rent. It cost me $300 per month for my super in 2020; now I’m paying $575. … These buildings are not in a vacuum. They are subject to the same economic forces every other industry is facing. … The annual rent increases are vitally important to the stability of the old rent-stabilized buildings.”

Korchak added that the Water Board has voted to increase water rates by 8.5 percent, while Con Ed is increasing delivery charges to raise revenue and “collect the massive utility arrears they experienced during COVID.” Meanwhile, she said, delays are backing up Housing Court proceedings against tenants who are not paying rent.

Another longtime property owner, who lives in and rents out apartments in a landmarked brownstone in Greenwich Village and requested anonymity, said these older buildings present their own challenges.

“The minute they hear ‘brownstone,’ folks think luxury,” she said. “There are stats for expenses and it’s not baloney. For an aging, regulated property, maintenance is higher than new buildings because of the property’s age. In my case, as well, the building is landmarked, increasing exterior renovation coats greatly — by tens of thousands of dollars.

“My expenses truly went up far higher than inflation and the expenses index,” she continued. “My insurance alone went up 20 percent for the next three years and would have gone up more if we had not raised the deductible to $28,000. I had to put up three years at one time. It is a huge amount of money.

“The voices of tenants are louder than the beleaguered small property owners,” she said. “Activists are cherry-picking data to mask the truth.”

However, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side, was having none of it. A member of the Assembly’s Housing Committee, she said landlords — particularly big landlords — have won big again, all the while “crying poor.” She called the rent hikes “an utter betrayal of the city’s tenants.”

“I am outraged, but not surprised, by the Rent Guidelines Board’s decision to make living in New York City even more unaffordable for rent-stabilized tenants,” she said, in a statement. “This increase is another win for the real estate industry and big landlords, who will continue to cry poor while they force out low-income families, seniors and those on fixed incomes. As the R.G.B.’s own Income and Affordability Study documents, vacancy rates have hit historic lows, the number of evictions has risen 195 percent from last year, and almost half of rent-stabilized households are rent-burdened and forced to choose between putting dinner on the table and paying rent. With a record number of homeless people, tenants on the brink of eviction, not enough vouchers and the high cost of living, these increases portend an even greater housing crisis.

“The R.G.B. needed to show true leadership,” Rosenthal said, “and tenants needed a chance to catch their breath after years of back-to-back rent increases. Instead, these rent increases will force more families into Housing Court and out of their homes. The R.G.B. system is broken.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Adams also took the opportunity to trumpet his “City of Yes” housing plan. Critics, though, say the sunny-sounding scheme would merely grease the skids for construction of more market-rate housing, with just a small amount of affordable housing sprinkled in.

“As we have said from Day One,” Adams declared, “the only way to ultimately lower rents is to build more housing. And we are using every tool in our toolkit to build that housing more quickly — cutting red tape, implementing the new state tools we fought hard to attain, financing record numbers of affordable housing, and advancing the ‘City of Yes for Housing Opportunity’ zoning amendment that will clear the way to build a little more housing across the city in every borough.”


  1. Carol Frances Yost Carol Frances Yost June 20, 2024

    Poor, poor suffering landlords! So far my landlord isn’t giving me a hard time, but look, the landlords are looking to make as much money as possible. I’m lucky I have a comparably low rent in a rent-stabilized apartment. I can’t afford to live anywhere else. If I couldn’t stay here, I’d be living on the sidewalk or in some rundown shelter.

    • RGB Victim RGB Victim June 23, 2024

      We are just looking to break even. Currently property tax exceeds the rent we are legally allowed to correct. Forget insurance, which doubled this year. Water which just went up 8.5%. Gas went up 11%. Rent? 3%? How does this add up?

  2. Jay Crockett Jay Crockett June 19, 2024

    Thank you for the reporting. It is tough to present the position of any landlord in this city . . . . but there are, indeed, two sides (at least) to every story.

Leave a Reply

Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.