The city’s rent board has approved an unprecedented one-year freeze on rent hikes, infuriating New York landlords who called the historic decision a political gift to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The vote was 7-2 Monday night by the Rent Guidelines Board at a raucous meeting in Cooper Union’s Great Hall to set one-year lease increases at 0 percent and two-year leases at 2 percent for leases in rent stabilized buildings.
- If you sign a one-year renewal on a new lease that commences anytime between 10/1/2015 and 9/30/2016, your rent should not increase.
- If you sign a two-year renewal that starts between 10/1/2015 and 9/30/2016, your rent should increase 2 percent.
“God works in mysterious ways,” one tenant said at the meeting.
Their advocates, especially the mayor, were overjoyed.
“We know tenants have been forced to make painful choices that pitted ever-rising rent against necessities like groceries, childcare and medical bills,” de Blasio said in a statement.
“Today’s decision means relief. Our administration will continue to work on all fronts to help protect tenants against harassment and displacement.”
Landlords see things differently.
“Today’s decision places unrealistic expectations on building owners to subsidize affordable housing on their backs, despite the City’s lack of maintaining control on costs on owners at every turn,” said Patrick Siconolfi, who heads the Community Housing Improvement Program,
“The mayor and his board did not take into account these significant costs of maintaining aging buildings and the increasing expenses such as water and sewer rates.”
Rent Guidelines Board member Sarah Williams Willard, who serves as an owners’ rep, was frustrated when the tenant-heavy crowd shouted her down as she tried to put forth the landlord argument against the freeze.
“This is bias, and selective listening. I vote and an absolute, resounding no,” she said. The other no vote came from Forest City Ratner vice president Scott Walsh.
Landlords argue that they use extra rent income to keep up their buildings.
“The administration says they want to preserve affordable housing. A rent freeze was not the answer! Rent increases are invested in housing!” the landlord-friendly Rent Stabilization Association tweeted.
The tenant-friendly RGB members cited an analysis of landlord costs that showed barely any increase because of a precipitous drop in fuel costs.