Just hours ahead of the Rent Guidelines Board’s (RGB) preliminary vote this evening on whether they will freeze or increase rents on rent-stabilized units, both tenants and landlords are strongly arguing for their sides.
The 25,000 landlords represented by the Rent Stabilization Association are calling for a four percent hike on one-year leases, and a seven percent hike on two-year leases, reports the New York Post. Last year, the same group asked for a four percent hike on one-year leases, and a six percent hike on two-year leases, but the RGB only agreed to a 1.25 percent increase for one-year leases, and two percent increases for two-year leases—the first rent increase the board had approved in two years.
Landlords say they’ve seen cost increases over the past few years, and have been impacted further by the two consecutive rent freezes in 2015 and 2016. That was backed somewhat by a report published earlier this month by the RGB which showed that overall operating costs for landlords had increased 4.5 percent over the last year—however, this rate of increase was lower than the previous year when it increased 6.2 percent.
Meanwhile, advocacy groups like the Community Service Society are arguing that it has only been getting worse for low-income New Yorkers in the past decade. A new report published by CSS, titled Tenants at the Edge, highlight’s the city’s homeless crisis, and the increased rent burden on low-income tenants.
A key factor, CSS points out, is that vacancy rates for rent-stabilized and rent-controlled homes remain extremely low—in 2017, net vacancy rates for apartments renting below $800/month were just 1.15 percent. In comparison, vacancy rates for apartments renting above $2,000/month were 7.42 percent.
In addition, the rent stabilized and rent regulated stock has decreased between 1999 and 2014, according to CSS. There has however been an increase in unregulated rentals, which CSS argues puts tenants at risk of sudden rent increases, and makes them more susceptible to displacement and homelessness.
Furthermore, while the number of low-income households in the city have remained the same between 2000 and 2016 (just above one million), the number of homeless families have nearly tripled (going from 5,300 in 2000 to 15,200 in 2016), which largely points to the scarcity of rent-stabilized homes.
The Rent Guidelines Board will hold a preliminary vote at 7 p.m. this evening at the Cooper Union Hall. The final vote will be held on June 26.