June 12, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
Two major rent decisions this month could impact thousands of residents across Western Queens.
The City’s Rent Guidelines Board has proposed rent increases of up to two percent for one-year lease renewals and 0.5 to 3.5 percent for two-year renewals.
Last year, the RGB adopted a record low increase of one percent for one-year renewals.
Potential rent hikes could impact a huge swath of New York City renters; about half of apartments Citywide are stabilized. Here in Western Queens, apartments in nearly 2,700 buildings are rent stabilized and would be subject these new rules, according to RGB data.
Astoria and Long Island City hold the bulk of these buildings, with nearly 1,200 each. Sunnyside and Jackson Heights have about 170 and 200, respectively.
RGB is slated to vote on the new rules on June 24; public hearings have been scheduled throughout the City in anticipation of the vote.
The next hearing will take place Monday at Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Boulevard in room 200, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be an opportunity for public testimony, according to the RGBNY website.
Complicating the issue is the looming expiration date for New York State’s rent laws, which also occurs on Monday. Rent laws must be renewed or extended before RGB can vote on its proposed rules.
Rent laws were last up for expiration in 2011. This year, various advocacy groups and elected officials have seized the opportunity to push for stronger rent regulations, such as modifying the way building improvement costs are passed on to tenants, or ending landlords’ ability to spike an apartment’s rent when it becomes empty.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has recently voiced his support for some of these measures, including in a Daily News op-ed. However, he has met skepticism from groups such as the Alliance for Tenant Power, who said too few changes were made under his watch in 2011.
If Albany allows rent laws to expire on June 15, the City’s rent-stabilized apartments would revert to market rate, a situation Cuomo has said would lead to “mayhem” and insisted he would work to prevent.