Advocacy group calls for end to vacancy rent spikes

Law allows 20 percent increases
May 18, 2016 11:00AM

Tenant advocates are urging lawmakers to repeal what they call the “eviction bonus,” rent increases allowed when apartments are vacant.

Under state law, landlords can increase rent by up to 20 percent upon vacancy, though the city’s Rent Guidelines Board has recently kept these spikes down to record lows and down to zero for one-year leases. The Community Service Society of New York released a report on Tuesday arguing that the vacancy allowance leads to more stabilized apartments than annual rent increases.

Landlord groups, however, argue that the law provides necessary revenue to maintain their buildings, the New York Times reported. One landlord group, the Rent Stabilization Association, said the vacancy allowance typically increases rents by 10 percent. Since the Rent Guidelines Board is considering another rent freeze for one-year leases, landlords argue that the vacancy allowances will become even more crucial.

Tenant groups lobbied Albany on Tuesday to repeal the allowance, though a bill to do so has failed to make it through the state Assembly for several years, the newspaper reported. Some see the repeal as a way to give back to tenants as talks over the future of 421a — sometimes criticized as a giveaway to developers — continue. [NYT]Kathryn Brenzel