City board to decide this week whether to freeze rents in stabilized apartments

The Rent Guidelines Board will consider four proposals for apartments and lofts

The Rent Guidelines Board on Wednesday will consider four different proposals on what increases should be applied to stabilized apartments and lofts. (iStock)
The Rent Guidelines Board on Wednesday will consider four different proposals on what increases should be applied to stabilized apartments and lofts. (iStock)

The city’s rent board is poised to vote Wednesday on whether to freeze rents in stabilized apartments.

The Rent Guidelines Board will consider four different proposals for stabilized apartments and lofts. Three of the proposals seek to freeze rents, while one, put forward by landlord representatives on the board, calls for a 2 percent increase on one-year leases, and a 5 percent hike on two-year leases.

Based on last month’s preliminary vote, a proposal by chair David Reiss has enough support to pass. He called for freezing rents on one-year leases and on the first year of two-year leases signed on or after Oct. 1, 2020. During the second year of two-year agreements, rent would rise 1 percent under the proposal. The board will consider that proposal on Wednesday, along with a similar one that would allow for a .5 percent increase during the second year of two-year leases.

Another proposal would prevent any increases on one- and two year agreements for the duration of the lease. The board will consider only one proposal for stabilized hotels, which would freeze rents for all unit types.

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The landlord representatives’ pitch specifies that approved increases should apply to both renewal and new leases. Last year, the state’s housing regulator, the Division of Homes and Community Renewal, released a memo that left the question of vacancy leases up to the city’s board. While the state’s year-old rent stabilization law prohibits the board from awarding separate vacancy bonuses, the city’s board can authorize owners to apply annual rates to newly signed leases. However, other board members haven’t shown much interest in applying rent guidelines to vacancy leases.

Prior to the board’s first meeting, Mayor Bill de Blasio called for a cancellation of its proceedings and an automatic rent freeze, to provide relief to renters struggling due to the coronavirus crisis. Because of legal issues associated with cancelling the board’s meetings, the mayor instead urged its members against raising rents this year.

Write to Kathryn Brenzel at kathryn@therealdeal.com