Tenant advocates stormed the stage at the Rent Guidelines Committee meeting last month to protest possible rent increases.

Landlords groups are holding their own protest ahead of tonight’s meeting, advising property owners not to attend.

They said the recommendations stemmed from growing safety concerns and a desire to be heard.

After activists and city council members disrupted a May meeting, board chairman Nestor Davidson wrote to Mayor Eric Adams expressing concern over the “public action” under the “offensive incident.” “strong concerns” about safety”.

Footage of the preliminary vote showed politicians and tenant activists circling board members as the board’s landlord representative, Christina Smyth, began detailing her proposed rent increase. Demonstrators raised their fists and chanted “rent rollback”.

Davidson eventually called adjournment as the shouts drowned out the conversation.

“Over the past two years, tenants have become increasingly intimidating,” said Ann Kochak, head of Small Homeowners in New York. The group has advised members to skip two in-person hearings this week and instead attend a virtual meeting on Tuesday.

“After the Bronx meeting last year, I was verbally attacked,” Korchak added. “These meetings have reached a whole new level of vitriol.”

The Rent Stabilization Association, the city’s largest stable landlord group, is also directing tenants to tomorrow’s remote hearing to sidestep “intimidation and fear tactics.”

A third group, the Community Housing Improvement Program, said it had been “more subtly” blocking attendance.

“We cannot in good conscience encourage owners to attend or assume that they will not be subjected to worse verbal and physical intimidation than in previous years,” spokesman Michael Johnson said.

Pandemic job losses and the state’s controversial rent relief program have left some tenants deeply behind on their rent. For some landlords, unpaid rent — along with rising fees and interest rates and restrictions on rent increases under the Rent Act 2019 — has led to financial distress.

In 2020 and 2021, the board voted to freeze rents by prioritizing the troubles of tenants. But lately, the issue of landlords has come into the spotlight, sparking a backlash from tenants and their allies in the city council.

Safety concerns aside, owners say a more immediate concern is not being able to have a say in key votes. Landlords say more distressed buildings will collapse if rents are not raised sufficiently.

“I was screaming all the time, and there were cowbells and whistles everywhere when I was trying to get my piece out,” says Ann Korchak, small landlord and SPONY president.

“Any tenant who came up to speak didn’t have to live with this situation, ever,” she added.

The RSA’s Michael Tobman said the virtual presence would ensure the owner’s “testimony is not interrupted, suppressed and drowned out.”

“All voices must be heard in this process — especially the voices of small building owners,” Taubman said.

But landlords also acknowledge that missing out on an in-person forum means losing the validity of an in-person appeal.

“It’s a better forum for our voices to be heard,” Korchak said of Monday’s meeting in Queens.

The final Rent Board vote will be held in person on June 21st at 7pm. Any approved price increases will be effective for leases signed on or after October 1.

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