Spring is when the days are longer, cherry blossoms are in bloom, and the Rent Guidelines Board discusses this year's round of rent hikes for rent-regulated apartments. And this year's talks should be another doozy, as the RGB found landlord operating costs have risen 7.8% over the past year.

This year, landlords will be asking for 10% hikes for 1-year leases and 15% increases for 2-year leases. Last year, rents hikes were approved for 3% on 1-year leases and 5.75% on 2-year leases (in 2006, the hikes were 4.25% and 7.25%). Landlords point to rising fuel and other costs, but tenants say landlords are still making a lot of money and plan to fight the hike.

While many New Yorkers don't have rent stabilized apartments, the increases reflect real market concerns. Congressman Anthony Weiner--who is eying a run for Mayor next year--says almost one in three New Yorkers pays at least 50% of the income to landlords. Weiner said, "You should spend no more than a third of your income on rent. That is [now] seen more and more not like a rule of thumb, but a pipe dream." And last year, another possible 2009 mayoral candidate, Comptroller William Thompson, sent a letter imploring the Rent Guidelines Board not to raise rents.

After a jump is a list of scheduled meetings to discuss the rent hikes:

Friday, May 2, 2008 Public Meeting (Invited Group Testimony) Department of City Planning Spector Hall 22 Reade Street New York, NY 10007 9:30 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. Apt. Owners: 9:45 A.M. – 11:45 A.M. Apt. Tenants: 1:00 P.M. – 3:00 P.M. Hotel Owners: 3:15 P.M. – 4:00 P.M. Hotel Tenants: 4:00 P.M. – 4:45 P.M.

Monday, May 5, 2008
Public Meeting
(Preliminary Vote)
The Great Hall
at Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street
at corner of 3rd Ave. (Basement)
New York, NY 10003
5:30 P.M. – 9:30 P.M.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Public Meeting
Department of City Planning
Spector Hall
22 Reade Street
New York, NY 10007
9:30 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Public Hearing
(Public Testimony)
NYC College of Technology
Kiltgord Auditorium
285 Jay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
4:00 P.M. – 10:00 P.M.

Monday, June 16, 2008
Public Hearing
(Public Testimony)
The Great Hall
at Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street
at corner of 3rd Ave. (Basement)
New York, NY 10003
10:00 A.M. – 6:00 P.M.

Thursday,June 19, 2008
Public Meeting
(Final The Great Hall
at Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street
at corner of 3rd Ave. (Basement)
New York, NY 10003
5:30 P.M. – 9:30 P.M