0% Report

(This report from Eve)

For those of you who missed the excitement of the last Loft Board
meeting – we achieved our first tangible success!
Rule 2-06 on “Interim Rent Guidelines” was set at a 0% increase and
passed the Board with of vote of 6 – 3.

To quote Susan Pogoda (who was acting as Chairman Limandri’s proxy,
running the meeting in his absence) “the system worked, we heard your
letters”.

Lanny did a good job summarizing the salient points of the 20+ letters
that the Board received. She said she stopped counting the number of
letters that came in after 20 – but clearly they were impressed by
the quantity and quality of the heartfelt responses. Lanny also made
it clear to everyone in the room that each letter was forwarded to
everyone on the Board. It seems they have also been moved by the
number of people who have turned out for meetings.

Of course this is only the beginning. 2-06 will still come back for
commentary and go through the public hearing process – where we will
have to testify as to why the rule should NOT be changed. And there are
rules still to be voted on that will require our action.

0% !

A big win for loft tenants yesterday. The Loft Board voted on the Interim Rent Guidelines that have been in contention for a few months (see posts below). The final number: 0%

So: no freebie rent increase for landlords just because their building gets IMD status. They have to start the legalization process before they get a penny.

Great job everyone. Thanks to all who showed up at the Loft Board meetings and sent letters to the Board. They saw us and they listened.

Loft Board Pays Attention II

We expected today’s Loft Board meeting to be another rubber-stamp session on some version of the Interim Rent Guidelines. We had posters ready, objecting to the giant arbitrary increases in the latest proposal, and duct tape for our mouths since the Loft Board would not allow us to testify.

Surprise, surprise! The introductory comments by Chairman LiMandri referred to the many letters they had received about this issue (we get a mention) and he led the Loft Board in a long, convoluted discussion about how to arrive at fair and sensible Interim Rent Guidelines. This alone was a surprise — they went back to square one, ditching all the arbitrary reasons for percentages and time schedules from all the previous proposals.

Soon, the essential conflict came out. Are rent increases under the Interim Rent Guidelines meant to be an incentive for bringing loft buildings up to code or a gift to landlords that haven’t gotten a rent increase in a while?

If the intent is to give something to the landlords because they haven’t raised someone’s rent in a few (or many) years, then why do they deserve it? It’s not like tenants are in charge of rent increases. If a landlord didn’t raise the rent in a loft building for 10 years, it’s probably because the tenants were putting up with lousy heat, leaky roofs, and had to fix everything themselves. Maybe that landlord realized that if he tried to raise the rent and lost his tenants, no one else would move in. Does that landlord then deserve a large rent increase just because he or his tenants applied for Loft Law coverage?

NYCLT has an answer: NO.

If the intent is to provide incentives for landlords and tenants to apply for coverage and get all the way through the legalization process, rent increases should be strictly attached to guideposts in that process. A freebie rent increase just for applying does nothing to push the process along and might A) cause landlords to take the increases and do nothing or B) cause tenants to do the math and not apply.

The first part of the 6-8-6 is the incentive. It’s REALLY easy to get to – too easy, in fact. All the landlord has to do is register his building with the Loft Board and submit an Alteration Application, which is a preliminary proposal for work to be done to comply with the Article 7-B code. The application includes a full set of building plans, but it can be amended. Immediately the landlord gets a 6% increase — that should be more than enough incentive to move toward legalization!

Back to the meeting… the new Manufacturing representative, if I can be so blunt, might be our new best friend on the Loft Board. He proposed the Guidelines be set at 0%. Stay tuned.

Chairman LiMandri proposed many variations on the Interim Rent Guidelines, but it was impossible for the Board to find a rational argument for any of the proposal (kudos to him for trying to make some sense out of nonsense). In the end, two proposals will be worked up for the next meeting. ONE: 0% increases. TWO: a one-time increase for tenants that had no increase since June 2009, equal to the Rent Guidelines Board number (2.5%) minus a factor if the tenant pays his or her own utilities.

I think we hit this one out of the park. Congratulations.