NYC Mulls Up to 9 Percent Increase for Some Rent-Stabilized Homes

reprints


The New York City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) approved a preliminary increase for rent-stabilized apartments ranging between 2.7 percent and 9 percent on Thursday, which left elected officials looking for options to stop the hike.

As part of the proposal, the RGB calls to increase rent for new one-year leases by between 2.7 and 4.5 percent while new two-year leases would increase between 4.3 and 9 percent.

SEE ALSO: Lisa Gomez Talks About the Challenges Facing NYC’s Affordable Housing Developers

The decision by the RGB, which oversees the rents of up to 1 million apartments, did not sit right with New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams who argued that renters should be spared an increase as they struggle to deal with the pandemic and inflation.

“With the eviction moratorium and other protections expired, it is unconscionable to propose a rent increase of up to 9 percent for renters, which would only exacerbate the housing and homelessness crises confronting our city,” Adams said in a statement. “We call on the Rent Guidelines Board to seriously consider the harm that level of rent hike would cause and support actions that would safeguard the safety, health and well-being of New York’s rent-stabilized tenants.”

Maintenance and other operating costs had increased considerably over recent months — with fuel costs rising 20 percent, maintenance 9 percent and insurance close to 11 percent — so landlords may need the cash, RGB Executive Director Andrew McLaughlin explained during a virtual agency meeting, estimating costs rose by 4.2 percent for owners. 

The RGB also factored into its price index that taxes decreased by 3.7 percent.

The RGB will host a meeting on the rent hike on April 20, followed by a preliminary vote scheduled for May 5. If it passes, it will be followed by 30 days of public input and a hearing before a final approval sometime around June 19, according to McLaughlin.

Some elected officials, such as Upper West Side Councilmember Gale Brewer, are hoping to drive the price of non-rent-stabilized units down through legislation introduced on Thursday.

One of the bills Brewer introduced would require annual registration and inspection of vacant apartments by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) as part of statements already submitted by property owners every year. 

This, her office said, will force landlords to end “warehousing” of units by forcing owners to address vermin, fire hazards, garbage accumulation, water leaks, gas leaks and mold and will ultimately “ensure more of the city’s housing stock is available.”

“In March 2021, it was reported that landlords removed 1,814 apartment listings in Manhattan, a number three times higher than February 2020. Last month, it was reported that the average rent in Manhattan hit an all-time record of $3,700,” Brewer said in a statement. “We are in a persistent housing crisis, and it is unacceptable that landlords would let units sit empty as a bet in a fluctuating market, or to protest Albany’s 2019 rent laws that limited vacancy bonuses and increased protections for vulnerable tenants.” 

Brewer’s bill comes after landlord group the Community Housing Improvement Program said landlords would fix up and return 20,000 rent-stabilized apartments to the market if they were allowed to “reset” rents for vacant units, The Real Deal reported.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.