The city’s Rent Guidelines Board has voted in favor of hikes Tuesday night that will impact nearly 1 million rent-stabilized apartments.
Tenants were hoping for another freeze, while landlords wanted an even bigger increase.
The board meeting was contentious from the start. Through the noise, the Rent Guidelines Board ultimately voted 5-4 in favor of a rent increase. That hike starting later this year will be 3.25 percent for one-year leases and 5 percent for two-year leases.
In a statement, Mayor Eric Adams said, in part, “This system is broken, and we cannot pit landlords against tenants as winners and losers every year.”
The Legal Aid Society also came out hard against the results of the vote.
“Tonight’s shameful vote, one which was likely predetermined, to increase rents on our most vulnerable neighbors is unconscionable, and many families will suffer as a result,” said Adriene Holder, Legal Aid’s chief attorney of the civil practice.
“We think that any percent that’s over zero in a global pandemic is just completely unacceptable,” tenant Lenny Rudd said.
“The burden falling on the tenants is absolutely criminal,” added tenant Carolyn Yao.
There was an effort to freeze rents on one-year leases, and increase two-year leases by 2 percent, but that failed.
To give an idea of the raw emotion, the proposals for the vote were being read with folks turning their backs in a sign of disrespect, a feeling that they were not being listened to, Rincon reported.
“This could be an extra $70, $100, $150 per month for a family that’s probably already struggling to keep up,” tenant advocate Alex Lee said.
Several small landlords were in the room, including Lincoln Eccles, who has a 14-unit building in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He said things need to change to prevent even more friction between the two sides.
“I have an apartment that is $460 a month. The market rate for that apartment in my area is over $2,000 a month. I should not be getting a property tax bill because of that,” Eccles said.
Christopher Athineos owns about 100 apartments in Brooklyn.
“Tenants and owners can agree that the system is broken. We need to come up with a better solution than the Rent Guidelines Board every year,” Athineos said.
He is among the many who feel city and state lawmakers can do more.
“Whether it’s real estate tax abatements for improvements, whether it’s vouchers for tenants who can’t afford their rents, and means testing for those who can afford their rents. They should be paying more,” Athineos said.
The board’s vote will impact more than 2 million tenants in the city, and is the highest rent increase in nearly a decade.
The decision affects leases being signed or renewed on or after Oct. 1 of this year.