Falling oil prices could change rent-regulation battle

Rent Guidelines Board to set preliminary range on Wednesday, take final vote in June

Apr.April 29, 2015 08:00 AM

A decline in oil and gas prices could impact the Rent Guidelines Board’s decision about whether to freeze, increase of decrease rent on the city’s roughly one million rent-regulated apartments.

Oil and gas prices dropped by 21 percent, the Wall Street Journal reported, during the year ending in March. Operating costs went up .5 percent, according to the board’s staff. Taxes rose 4.2 percent, labor costs rose 3.8 percent and insurance costs went up 7.2 percent, the newspaper reported.

The board, which has been setting allowable rent rate increases since 1969, is scheduled to decide on a range on Wednesday night and take a final vote on the matter in June, the newspaper reported.

Tenant advocates are hoping for a rent freeze — as promised by Mayor Bill de Blasio — or even a rollback. The Rent Stabilization Association, an organization that represents 25,000 landlords in New York City, is opposing the freeze. A rent freeze would be unprecedented in the city’s history. The RSA took out more than 700 ads last year to oppose the idea.

“Nothing justifies a zero increase or a rent rollback,” Jack Freund, executive vice president of the RSA, told the newspaper. “I am not optimistic in the long term as long as this mayor is in office.” [WSJ] — Claire Moses

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