The rate increases for the city’s 1 million regulated apartments are lower than property owners have pushed for, citing rising costs. But tenants and housing advocates who’ve called for a rent freeze say the hike will worsen the city’s eviction crisis.

Adi Talwar

A Bronx residential building with rent-stabilized apartments on the corner of East Mosholu Parkway North and Kossuth Avenue.

New York City’s Rent Guidelines Board voted Thursday night to increase rents for the city’s approximately 1 million stabilized apartments—proposing 2 to 4 percent hikes for one-year leases and 4 to 6 percent hikes on two-year leases.

The rates are lower than property owners have pushed for, citing rising costs. But tenants and advocates who’ve called for a rent freeze say the hike will worsen the city’s eviction and affordable housing crisis. A final, binding vote on the plan will be held in June, and New Yorkers will have the opportunity to weigh in on the changes at two public hearings in May.

The Rent Guidelines Board (RGB), whose nine members are appointed by the mayor, has set annual rates for the city’s rent-regulated apartments since 1968, and for decades imposed some form of an increase, with hikes ranging from 1 to 10 percent over the years between its launch and 2015, a prior City Limits analysis found.

Under Mayor Bill de Blasio, the board took a more tenant-friendly approach, imposing an unprecedented rent freeze for the first time in 2015-2016 and two other times during his tenure; the panel imposed more modest increases on four other occasions under the prior administration. Last year, the RGB voted to freeze rents for six months before allowing a 1.5 percent increase on one-year leases starting April 1. Two-year leases saw a 2.5 percent increase.

Since taking office, Mayor Eric Adams has appointed three members to fill vacant seats on the board, including a landlord lawyer, a self-described rent control skeptic and a housing attorney with the Legal Aid Society. The board’s makeup is designed to be split among different interests groups, with two members representing tenants, two representing property owners and five members “appointed to represent the general public.”

The rates the board voted to consider Thursday were a middle ground between what its tenant and landlords members had pitched: the board’s two property owner members called for rent increases as high as 6.5 percent on one-year leases and 8.5 percent on two-year leases, while its two tenant representatives proposed increases of no higher than 1 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

But neither side appeared happy with the rates the board landed on with its preliminary vote Thursday. In a statement, Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association which represents property owners, said the numbers “have proven our biggest fear—that the RGB continues to believe its duty is to operate solely as an affordability program for tenants.”

He cited “increases in inflation, property taxes, water bills, and heating oil and other operating costs,” as well as the “millions of dollars in unpaid rent” that amassed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to authorize a rent increase that keeps up with these costs, so housing providers have the ability to maintain their buildings and make sure that the buildings are safe,” said Christina Smyth, one of the RGB’s members representing landlords.

But tenants and housing advocates say the 2 to 4 percent hikes could have devastating consequences for the city’s approximately two million New Yorkers who live in stabilized units.

“Tenants are still struggling to survive. Landlords of rent regulated buildings have been making record profits. Many public members and landlords pretend this isn’t true,” said Sheila Garcia, one of two tenant representatives on the board.

Property owners purchased some 777 rent stabilized buildings in 2021, she noted. “In the height of a pandemic, they were buying properties. That means that they saw this as a lucrative investment,” she said.

Garcia Zoomed into the meeting from The Bronx, where she was surrounded by tenants holding signs urging the board to roll back rents rather than increase them.

“I just want to make sure that the sentiment in this room is heard,” she said. “People are suggesting that maybe when they get evicted, they can come and live with some of the board members who are imposing these increases, because those 2 percent at the minimum would be devastating to most of the folks in this room.”

Tenant advocates say the hikes will worsen the city’s current housing crisis, where residents are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic and the local unemployment rate is among the highest in the country. Housing court cases are mounting again after the end of the eviction moratorium at the the start of the year, and rents for market-rate apartments are on the rise. Nearly 50,000 New Yorkers sleep in the city’s homeless shelter system each night.

In a statement, Mayor Adams said “it was good the board moved lower” than the nearly 9 percent increase its landlord members had proposed.

“But if rents and the other costs of living are going to go up with inflation and other economic issues, then so too must government support, which is why I have been fighting for a more generous housing voucher program, a more robust earned income tax credit, and significant investments in child care,” his statement said.

The RGB will hold two public hearings next month to get feedback on the proposed rates before a final vote in June; if approved, the new rules would effect leases in place from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2023.

The public hearings will take place as follows:

  • Monday, June 13th at the Jamacia Performing Arts Center in Queens from 5 to 9 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 15th in the main theater of Hostos Community College in The Bronx from 4 to 9 p.m.

8 thoughts on “NYC’s Rent Guidelines Board Votes for 2-4% Hikes for Stabilized Units. What Now?

  1. Inflation is near 10%, utilities and maintenance costs have risen too. By what twisted logic is it a landlord’s legal responsibility to effectively subsidize his tenants rent or provide so-called ‘affordable’ apartments for anybody? The fact that the city orders landlords to do this sounds like a taking to me. NYC needs to go back to making co-op/condo conversions easier. Property ownership is good for the city and good for individuals. NYC has a low homeownership rate which is not good for the city:

    Boro = % Owner occupied
    BX = 18.46%
    MN = 23.96%
    BK = 30.56%
    QN = 45.29%
    SI = 69.20%
    NYC = 32.75%

  2. Inflation is near 10%, NYC property taxes, water & sewer, utilities and maintenance costs have risen too. By what twisted logic is it a landlord’s legal responsibility to effectively subsidize his tenants rent or provide so-called ‘affordable’ apartments for anybody? The fact that the city orders landlords to do this sounds like an unconstitutional taking to me.

    • Landlords receive a lot of money from the government like dependents tax credits and business expenses deductions that do not deserve if they have a history of harassing tenants into moving out into dangerous living situations. The money they receive from tax payers should be used to keep rents lower. Landlords and their workers and blood relatives need to learn to save Save Their Money and stop Crying Poverty because they are irresponsible fiscally. Personally evict yourselves from the landlord renting business if you are irresponsible. The combination of tax credits and rental income is too much money to be crying poverty after one year.

  3. Good evening. i am a small property owner in brooklyn. The past 8 years, we have received increases of only 6% TOTAL. In the interim, our taxes and insurance have doubled. Heat this year has increased approximately 40% alone. The courts have been closed for 2 years, and at the pace they r moving now, they might as well stay closed. We r small owners. Not the large speculators and developers that r responsible for most gentrification. Many of us have our buildings for 2 and 3 generations with the same tenants for decades. If this trend continues, the properties in the 5 boroughs will not include small owners any further. the industry will be lost forever. thank u

  4. good evening. we have received only 6% increase over 8 years TOTAL. in the interim our taxes and insurance have doubled. heat increased appx 40% this year. if the trend continues a strong majority of small mom and pop buildings will be owned by developers,speculators or worse, nycha. many of us have the same buildings for 2,3 generations. many have the same tenants for decades. we r not the ones responsible for the gentrification. please, lets do whats fair and give us the proper increase. thank u

  5. I cannot afford to wash and dry my clothes at a laundry mat if the rents on housing increase by more than 2 percent on any year lease. Food that is not expired is expensive.

  6. There should be a ban on real estate tax increases on the rent regulated apartments. Arguably, past real estate tax increases on rent regulated apartments should be rolled back. Public anger should be directed against profligate spending by the City Council that only flows through as higher real estate taxes with the rent regulated apartments paying their share.

  7. If you want to keep rent control and stabilization frozen or low; then you also must add stabilization of utilities, taxes, insurance and the other expenses that the rent goes to cover. Why are owners responsible for carrying the burden of inflation but not the city, utility companies and other vendors?

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