rgb vote

Rent Justice Coalition

Tenant protesters at the RGB meeting pressed for a rent freeze.

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The city’s Rent Guidelines Board voted 7 to 3 in favor of a 1.5 percent increase for one-year leases and a 2.5 percent increase for two-year leases on the roughly 1 million rent stabilized apartments in New York City.

The increases, which will affect leases signed after October 1, came despite calls for a rent freeze from housing and tenant advocacy groups, and amid demands from property owners for more generous hikes.

The RGB’s vote comes less than two weeks after the state legislature approved sweeping reforms of the rent laws (you can read the details of the reform here). The new state rent laws eliminate high-rent vacancy deregulation and vacancy bonuses, rein in preferential rents, and impose tight limits of rent increases linked to major capital improvements (MCIs) and individual apartment improvements (IAIs), among other changes.

The nine-member Rent Guidelines Board is appointed by the mayor. Two members represent tenant interests, another two members represent property owners’ interests and the rest of the board are supposed to represent the general public’s interest.

Since Bill de Blasio became mayor, the board has approved rent hikes for one-year leases of 1 percent (2014), 0 percent (2015), 0 percent (2016), 1.25 percent (2017) and 1.5 percent (2018).

Tenant and housing advocates have been calling for a rent freeze similar to those in 2015 and 2016. They argue that despite new state rent reform laws, landlords will use the rent increases to push out tenants from those rent-stabilized housing units.

“This rent increase will lead to evictions, displacement and homelessness. We are disappointed that Mayor de Blasio’s Rent Guidelines Board listened more to landlords complaining about the new rent laws rather than to the facts,” said Ava Farkas, Executive Director for the Metropolitan Council on Housing. “Landlord profits were given more priority than rent affordability and that is just plain wrong.”

But the increase was not enough for groups representing the interests of property owners. On Twitter, the Rent Stabilization Association tweeted, “Mayor de Blasio’s RGB strikes again with another historically low guideline! 1.5 percent increases for one-year guidelines and 2.5 percent for two-year… that’s a whopping 5.25 percent over the last six years while operating expenses have gone up over 21 percent!” minutes after the vote went down.