NEW YORK — With the end of the nationwide eviction ban looming, the Rent Guidelines Board approved a rent increase for New York tenants in a Wednesday evening vote.
Members voted 5-4 to freeze rent for the first six months of one-year leases in rent-stabilized apartments and have a 1.5 percent increase for the next six months. Renters with two-year leases will have a 2.5 percent rent increase. The rates take effect in October.
The decision was quickly decried by advocates for both tenants and landlords. Robert Desir, staff attorney with the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society, said he was disappointed with the decision.
“These New Yorkers – the overwhelming majority of whom are from neighborhoods of color – include seniors, the disabled, working class families and others who are still grappling financially as a result of the pandemic,” Desir said. “Those in government must advance policies that protect these communities, not measures that will add further economic harm to people who are already struggling to make ends meet.”
But the rent increase doesn’t keep up with landlord expenses, according to Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, a group representing owners of rent-stabilized rental properties.
“We understand that many renters struggle to make ends meet, but the government should be providing them with the assistance they need through vouchers, targeted tax breaks, and other subsidy programs. Instead, the government is failing renters,” Martin said. “It jacks up property taxes, forcing rents to skyrocket, and then puts political pressure on the RGB to implement rent freezes on rent-stabilized units. This forces housing providers to make up the difference, often leading to higher rents on other New Yorkers to help subsidize this broken system.”
Last year, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Rent Guidelines Board voted in favor of freezing rents on one-year leases; two years leases were frozen for the first year, but subject to a 1% increase in the second year.
A rent relief program recently opened for New Yorkers.