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Landlords throw cold water on water rate hike

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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