Taxes, Fuel Drive Price Index Up

The Price Index of Operating Costs released by the Rent Guidelines Board yesterday showed an overall 6.2% increase. The index reflected a 7.8% increase in property taxes, the largest area of expense, and a 24.6% increase in fuel costs. Accordingly, the PIOC report suggests a renewal increase ranging from a low of 3% for one year leases to a high of 8.5% for two year leases, depending on methodology, but the Mayor continues to applaud the idea of a rent freeze, and the RGB in the past has been unwilling buck the Mayor’s intentions. Keep in mind that the 2014 PIOC was 5.7% and the RGB adopted increases of 1% for one-year renewals and 2.75% for two-year renewals.

The RGB’s Income and Affordability Study, also released yesterday, showed employment up and poverty down slightly from the prior year. Homelessness was up 2.8%, however, with an average of 58,770 people per night in city shelters. The number of non-payment filings in housing court declined for the fifth year, while the number of evictions was up slightly to 22,089 after steep declines in the prior two years. More than 20% of calendared cases are against public housing tenants.

The State Attorney General and New York City Council are both calling this week for legislation to stop alleged landlord harassment. The AG, Eric Schneiderman, wants to eliminate the state requirement for injury to a tenant for conviction of a landlord, because there has never been a successful case proven. Apparently, the idea that it just rarely happens has never occurred to him. Meanwhile, the Council has announced hearings next Wednesday on a package of anti-harassment bills, including one that would create a rebuttable presumption that, say, unsuccessful attempts to evict for non-payment or to buy a tenant out were harassment.

The 421-a tax incentive program was re-created as the “Affordable New York Housing” program in the State Budget approved late Sunday. The details are included in Part TTT of this budget bill. A good summary is here.

Apartments in post-1974 construction, much of it built under the 421-a program, have an average turnover rate of 20%, vs. 11 percent in older buildings, according to an Independent Budget Office analysis released this week. The Battery Park City and Lower Manhattan neighborhood, with the most new units, had the highest turnover rate–32%. But a few neighborhoods with older housing such as Morningside Heights, Astoria, and Bay Ridge had above average turnover as well.

State Senator Kevin Parker could have used a tax incentive. The NY Post reported, Monday, that he owes more than $50,000 in property taxes and water and sewer charges. “Part of my electoral success is I live in the same circumstances as my constituents,” Parker commented.

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