RSA continues service and advocacy.
The RSA, representing 25,000 owners of approximately 1 million apartments, has met its goals in a number of ways, perhaps none more important than shielding the owners' bottom line from the harsh economic climate we now confront.
Last year, the RSA formed a Fuel Buyers' Program, which joined the RSA Health Insurance Program and the RSA Legal Protection Program in providing owners with essential services at reduced costs.
This year, we have formed the RSA Group Property and Liability Insurance Program. Using the purchasing power of RSA's membership, we have put together an insurance program with extremely broad coverage at very competitive rates.
These RSA programs have helped hundreds of property owners save money and stay in business. With RSA's established track record in the service delivery area, I anticipate that we will continue to develop vital and successful new services for RSA members.
Some cost factors for property owners are dependent, not on ordinary business decisions, but on the actions of government and its agencies. And even in these areas, the RSA's lobbying efforts have successfully contained rising costs.
The RSA's coalition-building efforts were successful in obtaining a "no new real estate tax" pledge from the City Council and the Dinkins' administration. And when that pledge was threatened by last minute legislation in Albany, the RSA lobbied a resolution which knocked the proposed rate increase down from 31 cents per hundred dollars of assessed value to just two and one-half cents.
That action alone saved New York's residential property owners nearly $100 million annually in property taxes, which would have been due and payable on July 15, 1992. And there are numerous other ways in which the RSA has saved owners money in the last year.
An RSA lawsuit against the City's Emergency Repair Program has resulted in the revamping of a program rife with abuses, which resulted in millions of dollars of tax liens placed on residential property each year. Under the revised program, owners are much more likely to be given an opportunity to cure violations before the City sends in a work crew and bills the owner.
The RSA has filed a lawsuit challenging the City's Universal Metering Program and has worked extensively to build a coalition of opposition to this costly and potentially devastating program. This effort has been successful in confining the metering program primarily to single family homes and in stimulating the City to consider rate alternatives for metered accounts.
In its continuous efforts to diffuse the cost burdens of the regulatory bureaucracy, the RSA was successful in obtaining a DHCR policy statement that owners would not be penalized for failure to pay the $10 annual stabilization fee, until they had first been notified and given an opportunity to cure, any deficiency. The RSA then had to fund a lawsuit to successfully defend this policy against Housing Court judges such as Judge Trussel who thought he "could roll back rents and assess treble damages against owners with impunity.
The RSA is also now preparing to revive its lawsuit against the Housing Court system, in which we obtained a settlement approximately one year ago. While the settlement looked good on paper, its terms have apparently not been honored in the Courts. Consequently, the RSA hired a team of monitors who have compiled more than 2,000 complaints related to the terms of the settlement with the Court administration.
The RSA will now return to Federal Court to press for the appointment of a court-appointed administrator for the City's Housing Courts. However, as a benefit of this process, the RSA has established, during the past year, a network of Owners' Assistance Tables throughout the Court system, which provide owners with time and money saving assistance.
I could go on outlining the numerous ways in which the RSA, directly and indirectly, has improved the bottom line for property owners just in this past year. But there is a more important bottom line which relates to the business of eventually ridding ourselves of the painful yolk of rent regulation. And there too, the RSA has made progress, year, for the first time since the vacancy decontrol legislation of 1971, the New York State Senate approved a luxury decontrol bill. In the City Council, the republican minority leader introduced a package of proposals to decontrol and reform the regulatory structure. An analysis by Harvard University, commissioned by the RSA, pointed out that decontrol would substantially raise rents only in Manhattan south of 110th Street. And a report by the Citizens Housing and Planning Council pointed out the 50,000 units are in danger of abandonment because of water metering.
These developments prompted a front page article in the New York Times entitled "Is It Time to End Rent Regulation?". Of course, we know the answer to that question. And the time for that answer has come.
Next year, the rent regulatory laws again come up for renewal. This represents our best chance in years to obtain major reforms in the system. But it won't be easy.
Next year will also mark city-wide elections for all City Council members and the Mayor. Unless there is a turnover in City Hall, we will continue to be saddled by a biased Rent Guidelines Board which has reduced the rent guidelines for three years in a row.
This coming year, we will need, and we will call on, every property owner to help protect our industry's bottom line.
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|Title Annotation:||Rent Stabilization Association|
|Author:||Gilbert, John J., III|
|Publication:||Real Estate Weekly|
|Date:||Oct 28, 1992|
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