The Real Deal New York

Judge upholds rent freeze challenged by landlord group

RSA says it plans to appeal
March 28, 2017 06:26PM

From left: Mayor Bill de Blasio and Joseph Strasburg

A New York State Supreme Court judge on Tuesday upheld a rent freeze on certain one-year leases, rejecting a landlord group’s arguments that the Rent Guidelines Board didn’t have the authority to keep rents flat.

The decision was a harsh blow to the Rent Stabilization Association (RSA), which filed a lawsuit in July claiming that the freeze on rent-stabilized units was politically motivated and didn’t take owners’ costs into account. Judge Debra James found that the Rent Guidelines Board wasn’t wrong in considering tenant affordability when it approved the freeze in June, Politico reported.

“We’re glad that the tenants had a say in this and that the board can continue to consider tenant affordability in setting the rent adjustments for the city of New York for rent-stabilized tenants,” Matthew Longobardi, an attorney for Goddard Riverside Community Center, which intervened on the board’s behalf, told Politico.

Joseph Strasburg, president of the RSA, said he plans to appeal the decision. He also reiterated the group’s argument that the mayor wrongfully interfered with the board’s actions.

“It’s disappointing that this court didn’t see that de Blasio’s political influence resulted in the Rent Guidelines Board using a parameter — tenant affordability — that is now allowed by law,” Strasburg said. “The RGB process which is supposed to be independent of City Hall influence  has been corrupted by a mayor that puts politics ahead of sound affordable housing policy, which is bad for tenants, affordable housing and the owners of 1 million rent-stabilized apartments — the largest providers of affordable housing.” [Politico] — Kathryn Brenzel