Landlords throw cold water on water rate hike

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The owners of New York’s one million rent stabilized
apartments have accused the city’s Water Board of turning the screw on their
already precarious financial situation.

The board voted this morning to hike water bills across the city by 2.76 percent pushing the average single-family homeowner water and sewer bills rise up from about $967 to $994 a year. For multi-family units, bills will jump by $20 per apartment — from $718 to $738 a year per unit. That’s a monthly increase of about $1.65 per month based on an average consumption of 52,000 of water per unit each year.

JOE STRASBURG

“Rather than provide the water system with a major financial
boost from the infusion of billions of dollars in federal assistance received
by the city, the de Blasio Administration inflicted an additional financial
burden on the shoulders of all property owners already reeling from the ongoing
pandemic,” said Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization
Association, which represents 25,000 owners of one million rent-stabilized
apartments in the five boroughs.

“This rate increase makes no sense because Mayor de Blasio
has already eliminated the rental payment for fiscal year 2022. It also
illustrates the longstanding hypocrisy of this mayor, who vowed in the past to
eliminate what he has consistently called a ‘hidden tax’ on homeowners. The
Water Board had an opportunity to provide a modicum of economic relief for
homeowners across the board, but chose instead to slap them with another
unnecessary financial burden.”

The rate increase comes as landlords await the outcome of
the annual Rent Guidelines Board, which is due to set rents when it meets June
23.

The Board is mulling calls from tenants to freezing rents while
landlords have asked for 2.75 percent increases for one-year leases and an
increase of 5.75 percent for two-year leases.

If a rent freeze is approved, it would be the fourth freeze
in seven years. Last year, the board approved a rent freeze for rent-stabilized
tenants with one-year leases. And for two-year renewal leases, a 1 percent
increase was allowed during the second year.

Small landlords in particular have been financially battered
by the pandemic as a rent moratorium froze their income while rising water and
electric bills from residents work from home, along with insurance premiums, property
tax hikes and COVID cleaning protocols increase their expenses by an estimated
15 percent.

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