The Real Deal New York

What landlords, tenants’ advocates are saying about historic rent hike

Neither side happy with one-percent increase
By Rich Bockmann | June 24, 2014 03:00PM

It was hard to find anyone with skin in the game who was satisfied with the Rent Guidelines Board’s historic vote approving a one percent increase this year on rents for stabilized apartments in the city.

Both owner and tenant advocates lambasted the board for its 5-4 vote, which will result in the lowest rent hike ever in the city.

“I think it’s totally inadequate,” said Frank Ricci, director of government affairs at the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents some 2,500 building owners and managers overseeing about 1 million housing units.

“I think the board chose to ignore the facts in front of them in terms of the real costs owners incur on a yearly basis,” he added.

Patrick Siconolfi, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, said the vote called into question the board’s integrity.

“It erodes the longtime partnership between the City of New York and the owners of rent-stabilized units that ensure affordable housing for millions of New Yorkers,” he said in a statement. “The City has taken sides where there should be no sides, but rather, facts and figures. It is wrong, irresponsible and will ultimately stifle investment in our city’s most important affordable housing stock.”

The board voted 5-to-4 late Monday to approve a 1-percent increase on one-year leases and a 2.75-percent increase on two-year leases.

While the Rent Stabilization Association had called for hikes of 6 percent on one-year leases and and 9.5 percent for two-years, tenant advocates were calling for a freeze, a proposal that enjoyed the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Katie Goldstein, executive director of Tenants & Neighbors advocacy group, called the decision “a huge disappointment.”

“The RGB had an opportunity to begin a course correction to make up for past high increases that have contributed to the affordability crisis, and didn’t,” she said in a statement. “A third of rent-stabilized tenants are paying over 50 percent of their income towards rent and this decision will likely increase that amount.”

Goldstein added the group will continue to advocate for a rent freeze.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Vivierito, a political ally of the mayor’s, said that while she was disappointed with the board’s vote she conceded the hike could have been worse.

“While we appreciate that the increase was kept to a minimum, as our city’s housing crisis comes to a head, it’s crucial that we utilize every opportunity to fight for and preserve affordability for the New Yorkers who call this city home,” she wrote in a press release.

Of the eight board members appointed to fixed terms, four will see their terms expire at the end of the year. Earlier this year de Blasio appointed Chairwoman Rachel Godsil and five other board members.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the title of Frank Ricci.