Rent Guidelines Board Freezes Rent for 1 Year, 1% Increase for Second Year

Essex Street between Hester and Grand Streets in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. (Beyond My Ken)

The New York City Rent Guidelines Board, the panel that sets rents for the rent-regulated apartments in New York City, decided on Wednesday to freeze rents for a year.

The Rent Guidelines Board voted 6 to three to freeze rents on one year leases, and for two year leases it froze the rent for the first year while allowing a 1% increase for the second year of the lease.

The landlords, who contended they needed increases to keep up with escalating costs, asked the panel to increase rents by 2% for the first year and 5% for the second year. The tenants asked for a freeze for both years.

There was a movement for a rent decrease, which some renters’ advocates asked for due to the hard hit job losses in the black and Latino communities, and many claimed they were unable to afford their current rents.

The state had imposed an eviction moratorium for those affected by the pandemic and economic shutdown, which is scheduled to expire August 20.

The new rent freeze only affects rent stabilized apartments, which are typically six-unit buildings built before 1974, or those constructed or renovated later with special tax benefits. The freeze does not affect market-based rentals.

The Rent Stabilization Association (RSA), a business group which represents landlords, noted that since Mayor Bill de Blasio has taken office, owners’ costs have increased 25.2% (according to the s Price Index of Operating Costs), while rents have increased only by 5.25%. Since 2014 (de Blasio’s first year in office), property taxes alone have increased nearly 44%, a yearly average of 6.27%.

This rent freeze is the third in six and a half years.

The RSA also noted that the latest guideline would not go into effect for another four months, until October 1, and the Board is operating under the notion that tenants will not return back to work any time soon, despite the fact that New York State has started lifting workplace restrictions.

After the vote, Mayor Bill de Blasio released the following statement:

“Renters have never faced hardship like this. They desperately need relief and that’s why we fought for this rent freeze. Now, more renters than ever before will get help keeping a roof over their heads. This is one step of many we have to take to get families through this crisis—but it’s a big one.”

In Thursday’s daily press conference, Mayor de Blasio said, “Let’s talk about rent stabilized tenants – over a million apartments are rent stabilized in New York City. That means well over 2 million New Yorkers live in rent stabilized housing. The folks who live in rent stabilized housing, so many have lost paychecks, have lost their livelihood, need relief in any form and what they need, what they deserve is a rent freeze. And I’m very pleased to announce that last night that’s exactly what our Rent Guidelines Board did.

“You know, I named the members of the Rent Guidelines Board and I’ve said since the beginning of the administration, we have to do things differently. We have to not just look at the needs of landlords, which is what the history was only looking at the needs of landlords; we actually need to look at the needs of tenants. We need to make sure that the people that make this city run – the everyday working people in New York City – that their needs are taken into account.

“The Rent Guidelines Board did exactly that…Thank you to the Rent Guidelines Board for doing the right thing.”