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NYC approves rent increase for millions living in rent-stabilized apartments

Millions of renting New Yorkers will have to pay more each month after a controversial increase was voted through by a New York City board on Wednesday night.

In a 5-4 vote, the Rent Guidelines Board pushed through a 3% raise for one-year leases for people living in rent-stabilized units. The board also upped two-year leases by 2.75% for the first year, and 3.2% for the second.

The nine-person board approved the increases, the second hike in two years, during another raucous meeting attended by more than 100 jeering protesters.

Mayor Eric Adams, who appointed most of the panel, praised their work “protecting tenants from unsustainable rent increases, while also ensuring small property owners have the necessary resources to maintain their buildings and preserve high-quality, affordable homes for New Yorkers.”

“Finding the right balance is never easy, but I believe the board has done so this year — as evidenced by affirmative votes from both tenant and public representatives,” Adams said in a statement following the vote.

In May, the board gave preliminary approval to a 2%-5% increase for one-year leases, and an even larger 4%-7% increase for two-year leases.

The public meetings leading up to Wednesday’s final vote have been met with fiery opposition to the board’s votes, which have slowly brought down its initial increases from as much as 15%.

At one particularly fiery meeting that month, the board had to pause after protestors hijacked the stage and then marched around the board as the members tried to continue on. Chanting from protestors was so loud, it made the majority of the meeting inaudible. Hundreds turned out to fight back against any proposed rent hikes.

The possibility of the increase had led tenant advocates to urge the board to not raise rent whatsoever, saying prices tenants pay are already too high. There was widespread outcry from tenants and advocates at the possibility of any hikes for rent-stabilized apartments — especially after one proposal sought to increase the rental price of those apartments by 15.75% for 2-year leases, the New York Times reported April 20.

However, the board did not listen to tenant groups, instead giving landlords the freedom to up rents on the rent-stabilized units.

“We have a really serious housing pandemic, catastrophe, whatever you want to call it. It’s really serious,” said Pilar DeJesus of the Rent Justice Coalition. “The landlords have never opened their books to show us how broke they are.”

But landlords say between inflation, tax hikes, insurance and more, they’re in need of an even larger rent hike.

“Still better than the irresponsible and reckless de Blasio year, but not quite the appreciation of the increase costs building owners are always facing,” said the Rent Stabilization Association’s Michael Tobman. The group represents thousands of landlords, whom mostly own smaller buildings.

During a previous hearing with the Rent Guidelines Board, representatives of the owners of these apartments alleged that the high cost of living and inflation are the factors for requesting the increase. Meanwhile, tenant advocates argued that the increase would lead to ordinary people simply not able to continue living in the Big Apple. An attendee at last month’s board meeting called the proposed hike as “cold blooded.”

Rent Guidelines Board Holds Preliminary Vote

Tracie Strahan reporting on rent guidelines board holds preliminary vote

According to the Progressive Caucus, another rent increase would push millions of low-income New Yorkers closer to eviction and homelessness.

Meanwhile, Sochie Nnaemeka, Director of the New York Working Families Party, shared similar sentiments.

“The outrageous rent hikes proposed by Mayor Adams’s Rent Guidelines Board would only fuel homelessness, displacement, and push more families to the edge. We fully and unequivocally reject any further rent hikes,” Nnaemeka said in a statement.

The board’s rules state the newly approved rates apply to leases with effectives dates between Oct. 1, 2023 and Sept. 30, 2024.

Source: NBC New York