Board holds preliminary vote on hikes for rent-controlled apartments in NYC

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, May 6, 2021
Preliminary vote on hikes for rent-controlled NYC apartments
Darla Miles reports on the impending rent hikes vote in New York City.,

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The Rent Guidelines Board held its preliminary vote Wednesday on whether rents for rent-stabilized apartments in New York City will increase this year.

The board is now considering potential rent increases of 0% to 2% on one-year leases and 1% to 3% on two-year leases, with the increases to be determined at a final vote on June 23.

In response to the preliminary vote, Real Estate Board of New York President James Whelan released the following statement:

"The Rent Guidelines Board must take responsibility for providing rent increases that allow for maintenance of quality housing for millions of New Yorkers and its final vote should reflect that reality. Failing to do so would only further punish owners under a broken system that places the role of subsidizing housing, regardless of individual tenant need, wholly on the private sector. It is disappointing that the RGB is relying on 2019 owner expense data that obviously fails to account for additional increases in operating expenses due to COVID-19 safety protocols and that the ranges put forth in its preliminary vote are not consistent with government-imposed increases in property taxes."

Rent Stabilization Association President Joseph Strasburg spoke out on behalf of landlords after the preliminary vote:

"The RGB is ignoring its own research data showing that landlords' operating costs rose again - property taxes alone increased by 3.9% - which calls for a modest rent increase of between 2% and 4% on a one-year lease. The RGB process is not meant to provide rent relief for tenants; that is government's role. The RGB is supposed to balance the needs of building owners and tenants, but that's impossible when they have Mayor Bill de Blasio pulling their strings. Tenants impacted financially by the pandemic have received thousands of dollars in stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment benefits, and other government relief, regardless of immigration status. Conversely, landlords have received zero assistance. For the RGB to even consider another rent freeze is beyond irrational. Soon-to-be distributed federal rent relief funds will only enable landlords to catch up on rent arrears of the past 12 to 15 months, and should have no consideration in the RGB's decision-making process."

Last June, the board decided to keep rents flat for one-year leases and increase 1% during the second year of two-year leases that started last October.

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This year, the Rent Stabilization Association -- which represents 25,000 landlords across the five boroughs -- had called for increases of between 2% and 4% on one-year leases and 3% to 5% on two-year leases.

"This range of rent guidelines is a starting point that enables owners to recover from last year's rent freeze and the draconian changes to the state's rent laws of 2019 that deny landlords the revenue they need to upgrade and maintain their buildings and apartments," Rent Stabilization Association Vice President of Communications Vito Signorile said. "A rent-guideline increase of no less than 2% would help reverse a seven-year trend in which the (Rent Guidelines Board)'s past rent adjustments - including last year's and two previous rent freezes - have deliberately ignored the board's own research data that pointed to necessary rent increases."

The decision affects roughly one million rent-stabilized apartments across the city.

Two public hearings will be held in June before the nine-member board takes its final vote.

If increases are approved, they would take effect October 1.

The average rent guideline increase from 2002-2013 was 3.3%

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