Landlord groups: Postpone vote on rent increase

Hearings to set hikes on rent-stabilized leases scheduled for next week

New York /
Mar.March 27, 2020 09:51 AM
RSA's Joe Strasburg, CHIP's Jay Martin and REBNY's James Whelan (Illustration by The Real Deal)

RSA’s Joe Strasburg, CHIP’s Jay Martin and REBNY’s James Whelan (Illustration by The Real Deal)

The three main trade associations for New York City’s landlords are jointly asking the city to put off a vote on rent increases for rent-stabilized housing.

In a letter, the Rent Stabilization Association, Community Housing Improvement Program and Real Estate Board of New York urged Deputy Mayor Vicki Been to delay action by the Rent Guidelines Board.

Deputy Mayor Vicki Been (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)

Deputy Mayor Vicki Been (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)

The board holds public hearings each year, starting in April, as part of its review process to determine how much landlords can raise rents on one- and two-year leases. The final vote, held in June, is typically a packed event at the Cooper Union’s Great Hall.

The trade associations, whose members own the lion’s share of New York City’s rent-stabilized housing, are not always in lock-step; they represent different slices of the real estate industry. But the heads of the three groups wrote to Been that the “crisis and resulting disruptions to nearly every aspect of daily life has had an impact on both present and future planning for every industry.”

“The city is considering the postponement or suspension of many city-imposed deadlines and processes until the State of Emergency has lifted,” the letter reads. “We believe similar consideration should be given to the Rent Guidelines Board process of determining annual rent increases for stabilized units — a process that typically begins next week.”

The letter did not otherwise explain why it should be delayed. It is also unclear what would happen to rent increases if the meetings were postponed. Some tenant advocates are pushing for a rent freeze, if not a rent strike.

Last year, the rent board approved increases of 1.5 percent for one-year leases and a 2.5 percent for two-year leases for rent-stabilized apartments and lofts. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who appoints board members, said this week he would have something to say soon about this year’s process. Early in his tenure he called for zero increase and the board agreed to that for one-year leases, but he has not repeated that call and the board has since allowed modest rent hikes.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, many multifamily landlords had hoped that the rent board would take into consideration the tenant-friendly reforms passed last year in New York, and approve more generous increases. That outcome now seems all but impossible.

Update: On Friday evening, the mayor said he would work with the state to cancel the Rent Guidelines Board process for a year, which would have the effect of freezing regulated rents.


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