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An Introduction to the NYC Rent Guidelines Board
Table of Contents


This introduction to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board covers the structure, function and history of the Board and its role in the rent stabilization system. Some attention has also been given to the broader regulatory environment affecting all residential landlord/tenant relations within the City.

The section entitled "Membership on the Board" covers the technical and legal requirements of Board membership. Prospective members are asked to review this section carefully prior to finalizing their appointment to the Board. Staff is also expected to be familiar with all aspects of these requirements.

An appendix has been provided for additional materials which are brief enough to be conveniently added. Other materials may be obtained through the sources noted in the text or in the list of "Other Noteworthy Materials" following the Table of Contents. Many excellent scholarly works and government publications are maintained in the staff library as are transcripts of prior meetings, past Board orders and related documents. These are available to Board members upon request.

This work is intended to acquaint the Board and its staff with many rent regulation and landlord/tenant issues in a general way. The analysis and commentary is that of the author/consultant. Nothing herein should be viewed as an official statement of the Rent Guidelines Board nor any of its individual members. It is not an authoritative legal document and should not be used as a primary reference for legal research. For those who have specific questions concerning landlord/tenant matters, the various laws, court decisions, regulations and government reports cited in this publication should be consulted directly. Professional assistance may be advised. Board members may, of course, consult directly with staff if further information or analysis is desired.


This introduction to the work of the Rent Guidelines Board and the rent stabilization system has truly been a collaborative and evolving effort. In the early years of the Board's operation, newly appointed members were supplied with notes and memoranda on various aspects of their investigative and rulemaking functions. These briefing materials grew each year as the Board launched new studies and gained access to new sources of information. In 1989 the Board published the first of its well-received annual reports on New York City's housing market and demographic trends. In that same year, I prepared the first edition of this work while serving as the Board's executive director. The third and last edition was published in 1994.

In 1999 Anita Visser was appointed executive director and began a process of conducting a complete re-organization of all of the materials and resources used by staff to support the Board's work. The updating of this book fit well within this larger effort. Because of Anita's leadership, future Board members and staff will find an operation in top shape to face new challenges. Anita contributed extensively to this edition, adding most of the graphs and tables, reviewing and critiquing early drafts, and diplomatically nudging me along when the demands of my private law practice tugged in other directions. Largely as a result of Anita's input, this new edition is substantially revised and improved.

Three first-rate attorneys from the City's Office of Corporation Counsel reviewed and contributed extensively to this work. Spencer Fisher, Anthony Crowell and Ellen Schroeder meticulously examined the text and footnotes and suggested dozens of improvements. As a busy attorney myself, I know how demanding a careful review of an extensive document like this can be. I was highly impressed by the earnestness and care which they exhibited in their review, and I am deeply grateful for their time and input. I emphasize, however, that the final product and the opinions and views expressed herein, are my own and not an official statement of the Office of the Corporation Counsel.

Since the first edition of these materials in 1989, every member of the staff of the Rent Guidelines Board has provided some support and assistance. This latest edition benefited greatly from the assistance provided by Andrew McLaughlin, Susan Hayes and Cecille Latty. It has always been a pleasure to work with Andrew who assisted in formatting these materials. Susan deserves special recognition for taking primary responsibility for incorporating changes from each draft - a painfully tedious process which includes checking and re-checking each page and each note to ensure that the internal referencing is correct. Her patience is greatly appreciated. Cecille carefully compiled and collated several of the appendices.

I want to also thank the Board's chairman, Edward Hochman, who has been a steadfast supporter of updating and expanding these briefing materials. Throughout his tenure, Ed has insisted upon the highest quality and integrity in the research which underlies the guideline setting process. In this respect, his contribution to this work cannot be overstated.

As with any collaborative work, several individuals deserve credit for their contributions, but the author alone must take responsibility for the final content. To the extent that any errors or shortcomings remain, I accept that responsibility. To borrow a phrase from Yeats, I have tried to "cast a cold eye" on the complex and conflicted world in which the Board operates. If certain matters have escaped my attention, I encourage others to fill in the gaps. The primary goal of these materials is not to have the final word, but to contribute to a conversation with integrity.

Finally, I want to extend my warmest thanks to my wife Marilyn and children Danny and Emily. This is the last of several late evenings I have devoted to completing this project. It is 10:17 PM on a Sunday night. Time to go home.

Timothy L. Collins
New York, New York
March 11, 2001

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