Rent Freeze Measure Fails; NYC Board Votes to Hike Rent on Stabilized Apartments

It's the lowest rent hike on regulated apartments in New York City history

New York City's Rent Guidelines Board has voted to raise rent on nearly a million regulated apartments, bypassing the mayor's appeal for a one-year rent freeze.

In a 5-4 vote, the board voted Monday to raise rent on stabilized apartments by 1 percent for one-year leases,and 2.75 percent for two-year leases.

Mayor de Blasio had called for a one-year rent freeze, saying a "course correction" is needed after what he feels were years of "unnecessary" rent increases.

Still, the raise voted on by the board Monday marks a historic low, by which the mayor was "heartened," according to a City Hall spokesman.

Under the proposed hike, a rent-stabilized tenant currently paying $1,000 a month will soon have to pay $1,010 a month for a one-year lease, and $1,027.50 a month for a two-year lease.

According to The New York Times, the board's research shows that more than a third of stabilized tenants are paying over half their income in rent.

Unhappy tenants stormed to the front of the meeting hall in the East Village after the vote.

"It's a scam and a shame," said Thomas Williams. "Forty-five years we've lived in the city, landlords are getting rent after rent after rent each and every year." 

Williams said he retired from the NYPD 12 years ago and that his pension doesn't go up at the same rate that his rent does. 

"Every five years, I get a cost of living raise. For this to happen, it's a shame," he said. 

On the flip side, the board's research shows a 5.7 percent rise in operating costs this year. And landlords say their costs exceed those numbers. They'd been seeking a 6 percent increase for a one-year lease and 9.5 percent for a two-year lease.

"The good news is it's not a rent freeze. The bad news, it's an only one-percent increase when costs are going up 6 percent, primarily because the city keeps raising real estate taxes," said Jack Freund of the Rent Stabilization Association. "Water and sewer rates, everything else is going up, too. Insurance, labor costs, fuel." 

Tenants argued that all the previous years of paying increasing rent have taken their toll.

"Landlords have been granted high rent increases, even during the worst of the economic downturn," said Michael Gillett. "We had a chance to see some sort of solidarity from the RGB and they failed us." 

Had the board voted to freeze the rent, it would have been the first time that's happened in the board's 45-year history. 

-- Ida Siegal contributed to this report. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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