A vote by the city’s Rent Guidelines Board on Thursday set the stage for what could be the biggest rent hikes in a decade for the Big Apple’s nearly 1 million rent-controlled apartments.
In a preliminary 5-4 vote, the board approved rent increases in the range of 2 to 4 percent for one-year leases and 4 to 6 percent for two-year leases.
If the board’s final vote falls within those ranges, they’d account for the largest hikes since 2013, when the board under then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg approved 4 percent increases for one-year leases and 7.75 percent for two-year leases.
The range set was not as large as some tenant advocates feared or landlord groups were hoping for — after a board report estimated owners would need increases of up to 9 percent on two-year leases to make costs.
But the Legal Aid Society is still pushing for a “wholesale freeze” when the board makes its final vote next month, the group said in a statement.
“We condemn the Board for voting to increase rents on some of our most vulnerable neighbors, people from low-income communities of color, especially when New Yorkers are still reeling financially from the pandemic and the local unemployment rate remains one of the highest in the country,” said Adriene Holder, attorney-in-charge of the civil practice.
“Tonight’s vote ignores that blatant reality. However, the Board can still vote for a freeze come June, and we encourage members to listen to the cries from tenants, our clients mired in the Hobson’s choice between groceries, medical needs and other essentials, and paying rent.”
Community Housing Improvement Program, an ownership group, blasted the board for not following the ranges in its own report and said the hikes were needed not for profits but to keep up with rising costs and maintenance.
“Housing has costs. The RGB spends a lot of time and energy calculating those costs,” Jay Martin, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.
“Yet, again, the Board has ultimately dismissed the data and proposed a range that does not cover the increasing costs that their own reports predict.”
Last year, the board agreed to a six-month rent freeze to allow for pandemic recovery, with a 1.5 percent increase for one-year leases and a 2.5 percent increase in the second half of the year.
All members of the board are mayoral appointees, although Mayor Eric Adams has only appointed three of the nine members today. The other members were appointed by former Mayor Bill de Blasio, during whose administration rents were frozen three times and stayed in the low single digits.