After tenant advocates stormed the stage during an initial vote last month on stabilizing apartment rent increases, the Rent Guidelines Board imposed a ban on noisemakers and drums to prevent a similar derailment in Wednesday night’s final vote.

Tenants appear to be viewing the ban as an invitation.

Protesters in the crowd drowned out Chairman Nestor Davidson with their voices and more than a few whistles, and a wall of chants and boos drowned out Chairman Nestor Davidson for most of the process.

The board tried — and often failed — to drown out the noise, approving a 3 percent increase in one-year leases for rent-stabilized apartments. The agency voted to increase two-year leases by 2.75 percent in the first year of the lease, followed by a 3.2 percent increase in adjusted rents in the second year of the lease.

Both measures passed in a 5-4 vote.

Separately, the agency has frozen rents for stable hotels. These adjustments will take effect on October 1, 2023.

Owners cast their final vote on Wednesday, expecting both chaos and disappointment.

“[The protests] That’s crossed the line and turned into something more threatening and intimidating,” said Michael Tobman, spokesman for the Rent Stabilization Association.

“Typically, protests would be the focus of the camera,” he added. “Now, their audiences are on TikTok and Instagram, and their protests have become more performative.”

Landlords had pushed rents up as much as 8% to allow landlords to keep up with rising operating costs.

An April report by the Rent Board found that operating expenses in rent-stabilized buildings rose 8.1 percent from 2021 to 2022, suggesting landlords would need to increase by 8 percent to keep profits stable when accounting for inflation.

But such a high rate hike failed to reach the negotiating table.

Landlord representatives on the board proposed a 5 percent increase on one-year leases, which was slim among 23 proposals, most of which were between 3 percent and 3.5 percent.

5% of bids lost in a 2-7 vote.

“It’s not the tenant’s job to make the landlord rich,” Tenants member Genesis Aquino said to cheers from the audience.

The outburst died down for a moment as tenant member Adán Soltren took the microphone to propose a rent freeze on one-year leases. Soltren introduced the measure with glacial speed to allow tenants waiting outside to enter the building.

The measure also failed by a score of 2-7.

Following the vote, landlords worried that the 3 percent increase could exacerbate the woes already befalling rent-stabilized buildings. Landlords have seen their property values ​​plummet as fees rise after the 2019 rent laws cut off most avenues to raise rents.

“With sky-high operating costs and taxes, inflationary pressures and mounting penalties in Albany, this is just rent reduction by another name,” said Zachary Rothken, an attorney specializing in rent stabilization at Rosenberg & Estis.

The modest rate hike was the second blow for landlords this week. On Tuesday night, lawmakers approved a bill that prohibits stable landlords from combining units to set new first-time rents — one of the few ways landlords can significantly increase their income.

The bill will go to the governor’s desk.

Tenants member Soltren seized on his final statement to challenge landlords’ distress claims before the board cemented the 3 percent rate hike.

Soltren called on Chairman Davidson to issue subpoenas to state housing agencies so the committee could “obtain biased information about landlord spending.”

History shows that more data makes little difference.

For years, landlords have urged boards to follow their own data when deciding on rent adjustments. Wednesday night’s vote marked yet another defeat.

“RBG ignores their own data and instead terrorizes radical politicians and activists, depriving the largest provider of affordable housing revenue they need to keep up with skyrocketing costs,” said RSA President Joseph Strasburg .

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