It’s official: the rent freezes of the past two years are no longer. The Rent Guidelines Board voted to allow increases on the city’s 1 million rent-stabilized apartments, with one-year leases subject to 1.25 percent raises, and two-year leases subject to two percent hikes. The raises would take effect on leases beginning October 1, and apply through the end of next September.
The decision follows a preliminary vote in April, at which the RGB voted in favor of a proposal put forth by its public members: one-year leases could see an increase of anywhere from one to three percent, while two-year leases could be subject to an increase of two to four percent.
The final vote erred on the more conservative side of those recommendations, but for both sides—tenants and landlords/owners—that may still be unsatisfactory. Tenants’ rights groups, who showed up to the meeting in droves, wanted a third consecutive freeze; landlords, meanwhile, wanted bigger hikes to offset the costs allegedly incurred as a result of the last two years of freezes.
As expected, the meeting was a slightly rowdy affair, with protestors chanting and singing “how low can you go?” before the vote occurred. At one point before things kicked off, tenant advocates (including city council member Ydanis Rodriguez) were doing the limbo.
The band is keeping us in good spirits as we ask Rent Guidelines Board "how low can you go?!" pic.twitter.com/ILBYimLSLP— Carlina Rivera (@CarlinaRivera) June 27, 2017
Eventually, though, the meeting got underway, and the board voted 7-2 in favor of increases.
Reactions from both pro-tenant and pro-landlord groups have been trickling in since the meeting, with neither group particularly enthused about the outcome. In a statement, Matthew Engel, the president of the Community Housing Improvement Program (a pro-landlord group), said the vote was “a very, very small step in the right direction” but “it is not enough to reverse the damage” of the last two years of rent freezes.
The Met Council, meanwhile, tweeted the following:
The Mayor’s office, however, took a more positive stance. In a statement, City Hall spokesperson Melissa Grace said that “We will never go back to the days when the landlord lobby got big rent hikes regardless of what the data said. Taken together, the past four years have seen the lowest guidelines in history—including the first two freezes ever—and a historic court ruling affirming the importance of tenant affordability in this equation.” (h/t PIX11)