NYC Rent Guidelines Board Moves To Freeze Rents For Millions Of Apartments
New York City landlords may have to wait a year to raise the price on rent-stabilized units.
In a 5-4 vote via Zoom Wednesday night, the city's Rent Guidelines Board made the preliminary decision to halt rent increases for one-year leases, by setting rental adjustments at a range of 0% to 2% on these units, bucking the real estate industry's pitch for an increase of around 3%. For two-year leases, the RGB voted for a 1% to 3% rental adjustment rate.
Landlord groups immediately slammed the board's decision, referencing the landmark Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which made it significantly harder for owners to raise rents and make improvements, as a reason for the RGB to give landlords more leeway.
"After the 2019 HSTPA, [the RGB's] decision has more damage on housing providers who have no other way to grow their operating budgets at a rate necessary to keep up with government mandates and increased expenses," Jay Martin, the executive director of the rent stabilized lobby group Community Housing Improvement Program, said in a statement.
Landlord advocates claim that the pause will ultimately hurt tenants.
“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,” Real Estate Board of New York President James Whelan said in a statement.
Both real estate representatives on the board voted against the proposal. Owner member Scott Walsh, a project director for Lendlease, instead proposed a 2.75% rent hike for one-year leases and a 5.75% rent hike for two-year leases in a measure that failed to pass 7-2. Fellow owner member Robert Ehrlich voted for Walsh’s proposed measure.
"It is clear that there's an overt mandate to put forced disinvestment into the rent-stabilized housing stock in New York City," Walsh said during the meeting. "This disinvestment plan is not something we can easily unwind out of or repair the damage from the medium-term time frame."
Garcia instead proposed setting the rental adjustment between -3% and 0% for a one-year lease. Her motion also failed 7-2, with Goodridge the other vote in support.
"If we do not know whether landlords are going to be hurting in a year, why don't we wait until next year and allow the board to look at the data," Garcia said during the meeting. "Not make assumptions, not tell us the sky will fall in if we do something, but to make decisions based on the data that we have in front of us."
Goodridge argued that an increase at all would be ignoring the financial and health crisis that many tenants lived through over the past year.
"We've been here dancing around ... and comparing profits and money to survival," she said.
The final vote on this issue will take place virtually June 23 at 7 p.m. Before that, there will be three public meetings on the first three Tuesdays of the month, according to the RGB's website.