Rent Guidelines Board votes for historically low rent increase

One-year leases to see 1 percent hike, two-year leases to jump 2.75 percent

Rent-stabilized tenants pushed for a full rent freeze ahead of Monday night's vote
Rent-stabilized tenants pushed for a full rent freeze ahead of Monday night's vote

New York City’s Rent Guidelines Board voted to lift rents for the city’s 1 million stabilized housing residents Monday evening, but  to do so with a historically low increase.

The board decided to raise rents for one-year leases by 1 percent and two-year leases by 2.75 percent, as Capital New York reported. The vote breakdown was 5-4 in favor of the hike and came down as hundreds of tenants packed a Cooper Union auditorium to demand a total rent freeze.

The increase, proposed by the board’s two owner representatives, was in line with what one public member said he wanted to propose. The measure was opposed by the board’s tenant representatives and two public members appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who called for a rent freeze shortly before the vote.

“It’s quite striking that we’ve had a pattern in recent years of tenants being charged substantial increases while the actual cost to landlords did not increase anywhere near the same amount,” the mayor said during a traffic-related press conference in Queens yesterday. “So, in fact, there’s been a pattern of unfairness in the last few years.”

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In 2013, the rent board OK’d a four percent hike for year-long leases. The bump up is the lowest increase since the Board was created about 50 years ago.

Nevertheless, Magda Cruz, a board member holdover from the Bloomberg years, gave a scathing indictment of the board’s process and accused her fellow members of pushing for a rent freeze because of political considerations and not actual data. She blamed her vote for a small increase on “extreme pressure” that she said pushed her to “compromise behind all economic fact.”

A formal proposal for a full rent freeze was never actually delivered, Capital New York reported, but chairwoman Rachel Godsil said she was prepared to present such a measure. Harvey Epstein and Sheilz Garcia, tenant members on the board, argued in favor of the freeze as well. [Capital New York]Julie Strickland