The Rent Guidelines Board last night attempted to strike a compromise for tenants and landlords when it approved a delayed increase on lease renewals beginning October 1st, 2021—but both sides came away dissatisfied.
In a 5 to 4 vote, the board approved a freeze for the first six months on one-year leases, and a 1.5 percent increase for the second six months. A 2.5 percent increase was approved for two-year leases.
Board member Alex Schwartz presented the increase as a compromise, according to The Real Deal. “This proposal is intended to provide additional time for economic recovery before any rent increase goes into effect. The proposed 1.5 percent increase allows rental income to cover operating costs and, at a minimum, help keep up with inflation,” he says.
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Last night’s decision was in contrast to last year's vote for no increase for one-year leases and a 1 percent increase for the second year of two-year leases. Over two million live in rent-stabilized apartments.
Ava Farkas, executive director of Met Council on Housing, called the vote “cruel and shameful.” Hundreds of tenants testified over the course of three hearings about their need for a rent freeze, according to The Met Council, which said in a statement that "landlords have seen net operating income increase for 14 of the last 15 years but tenants' incomes have not kept pace, and in some cases completely evaporated as a result of the pandemic."
"All rent increases, no matter how small, lead to evictions and displacements,” Farkas says. The Rent Guidelines Board decision “endors[es] the false narrative that landlords have suffered more than tenants during the pandemic. The majority of rent-stabilized New Yorkers are still struggling financially. To raise their rent when the pandemic is still ongoing is a capitulation to the real estate lobby,” she says.
The two board members who represent tenants voted against the final decision, The New York Times reports. One of them, Leah Goodridge, pointed to “decades of high rent increases that have created an unjust rent system,” in explaining her vote.
Landlords of rent-stabilized buildings wanted to see a 2 percent increase on one-year leases to cover their rising expenses, The Real Deal says.
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