Is the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) allowed to consider tenant affordability when setting yearly rent increases for rent stabilized tenants?  This is the question currently pending before the New York County Supreme Court in Rent Stabilization Association, et al. v. Rent Guidelines Board. Following a lengthy argument on Tuesday, the Hon. Debra James announced she would issue a decision on March 28. Judge James will be considering arguments made by the groups Housing Court Answers (HCA) and Mobilization Against Displacement(MAD)—with an amicus brief prepared by Brooklyn A attorneys.

Each year the RGB considers various factors, including apartment vacancy rates, fluctuations in the pricing of goods, net income of landlords, and a variety of other factors—including tenant affordability—in an effort to determine whether the rents of rent stabilized tenants should be increased, and if so by what percentage. After two consecutive years of a rent freeze, requiring 0% rent increases for one-year lease renewals, the RGB was sued in July 2016 by the Rent Stabilization Association (RSA), a landlord advocacy group. The RSA argued that the RGB was not allowed to consider tenant affordability in calculating its yearly rent adjustments, despite the fact it has been doing so for decades.

In an amicus brief prepared by Brooklyn A staff attorneys Adam Meyers and Jean Stevens, both attorneys emphasized that, while New York City landlords continue to generate record profits, the tenants and communities served by both HCA and MAD continue to struggle, and view the RGB’s rent freeze as a critical lifeline. Brooklyn A agrees, and considers the notion that rent affordability should not be taken into account when considering rent increases a misguided one.

The court is expected to decide the case on March 28.

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