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Long IslandNassau

Nassau rent board votes for zero increase on some leases

After pleas earlier in the day for no rate hikes in the county's rent-controlled housing, the Nassau Rent Guidelines Board Wednesday voted for a zero increase on one-year leases and a half-percent rise for a two-year lease.

The vote, which came after several resolutions that failed to muster a majority, was 5 to 3 with the two landlord representatives voting no and one representative of the public voting no. One member of the 9-person board was not present.

At a noon rally Wednesday at the steps of Hempstead Village Hall, dozens of elected officials and community leaders had called for no rate hikes.

"This should be the year of the tenant," said county legislator Robert Troiano (D-Westbury), who wants a rollback in rents. "The landlords have gotten annual increases ever since there has been a Nassau Rent Guidelines Board [since 1974]. That should change this year. Tenants deserve a bailout, too."

Westchester County froze rents last week; New York City votes Thursday. Rockland County, the last site in the state covered by the Emergency Tenant Protection Act, just upped their rents 3 and 6 percent, respectively for one- and two-year leases.

Hempstead is the municipality with the most such apartments in the county - more than 4,000. The lease rates begin Oct. 1.

There are about 12,000 units in 22 Nassau municipalities. For each of the past two years, Nassau's rent hikes have been 2 and 3.5 percent respectively for one- and two-year leases.

"Tenants need a break, and I'm asking the rent control board to roll back rents," said Democrat Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall.

Troiano said the data shows that landlords' "operating income rose 15 percent in Nassau County and an astounding 29 percent" in his 2nd district, which includes Hempstead.

Republican Legis. Denise Ford of Long Beach, which has a large apartment population, said: "Last year's rise in landlord's income should be offset with a rent freeze for tenants this year."

But Richard Rush, president of the Apartment House Council of Nassau County, a landlord group, opposed that.

"Historically, the rent guidelines board has not given high enough increases, and that has resulted in a steady decline in landlords' operating margins over the years," he said. "As a result, the board must give fair increases."

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