De Blasio rent-freeze proposal irks landlords

October 10, 2013 08:47AM

Mayoral front-runner Bill de Blasio’s proposal to freeze rents at rent-stabilized apartments has vexed landlords, who said they would fight the plan. The next mayor will have the ability to appoint four new members to the Rent Guidelines Board, which sets rent rates for a million New York City apartments, and De Blasio has announced his intent to select pro-tenant, pro-stabilization members.

A spokesperson for De Blasio said that were the candidate elected, he would push the board to not increase the rent during its annual vote in June.

“In the short term, with wages stagnant and tenants struggling to pay the rent, Bill de Blasio has called for a one-year rent freeze for people living in rent-stabilized apartments,” spokesperson Dan Levitan told the Wall Street Journal.

The real estate community and Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota are vehemently against the freeze, which they argue unfairly penalizes landlords. Any rent freeze should be accompanied by a freeze on property taxes and a freeze on municipal sewer and water charges, according to Jack Freund, vice president of the Rent Stabilization Association.

“Bill is not too smart backing this,” Freund told the Journal. “I’m not sure if this is campaign rhetoric but he will recognize the reality if and when he takes office.”

Lhota told the Journal that it would be hard to fathom a rent freeze given that property taxes and utility costs keep rising.

“There’s no equity there,” Lhota said. “If you’re telling me that that’s going to be controlled, sure, I’d be for a rent freeze. But if that’s not proven, I can’t agree to a freeze because it’s not fair.” [WSJ]  – Hiten Samtani