Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Harmon & RGB reform in one article



Rent Board reform push as Supreme Court delays decision on taking challenge

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 10:06 AM CDT
BY ANDY HUMM 

The U.S. Supreme Court put off, until at least April 23, a decision on whether to hear a constitutional challenge to New York City’s longstanding rent regulations.

While the prospect of a complete end to rent protections has tenants on edge and landlords salivating at the prospect of 1.1 million deregulated apartments, tenant activists and their supporters in government are plowing ahead with a proposal to reform the City’s Rent Guidelines Board — but not in time to affect the setting of this year’s annual rent hikes. That process begins with a preliminary vote on May 1 at Cooper Union (last year, the board voted 3.75 percent increases on one-year leases and 7.25 percent for two-year leases).

All nine members of the board are appointed by the mayor. The proposed state bill would not change that but would make the mayor get City Council approval for the appointees. And while the board would continue to have two tenant and two landlord representatives, the five “public members” (who rarely speak at meetings and invariably do the bidding of the mayor) could be drawn from more diverse backgrounds than those who fulfill the current requirement of having five years experience in “finance, economics or housing.

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