Last month, the Rent Guidelines Board proposed an historic rent freeze that would keep landlords from jacking up rent-stabilized tenants more than 3 percent on a one year lease. Unsurprisingly, landlords aren't super happy about this, so they've launched an ad campaign claiming that "a rent freeze hurts everyone" in an effort to prove that keeping city rents down will somehow transform the city into an urban blight scene right out of The Wiz.
The Daily News reports that the Rent Stabilization Association has been running a TV and radio ad campaign blasting the proposed freeze. The RSA represents about 25,000 landlords that own 1 million rent-stabilized units in the city, and they claim that the Rent Guidelines Board's proposal to keep rent increases at 0 percent to 3 percent for rent-stabilized tenants with one-year leases would make it impossible for landlords to maintain residences. "With the rent freeze and property taxes and other charges for owners increasing, it's going to be difficult for buildings, with everything else going up," Vito Signorile, director of communications for the RSA, told us.
Indeed, the 30-second ads argue that "Small-building owners put their rent increases right back into their buildings for repairs and maintenance." According to the RSA's website, rent-stabilized landlords help provide affordable housing citywide, provided they aren't taking sledgehammers to rent-stabilized apartments in an effort to oust rent-stabilized tenants. And though the ads are not yet available on the RSA's YouTube page, they reportedly paint a pretty familiar picture of De Blasio's New York, as told by the anti-De Blasio camp, complete with "graffiti-marred walls and broken windows," according to the News. Signorile would not comment on how much the campaign cost, but the tabloid reported it was in the six figures.
Jaron Benjamin, Executive President of tenants rights group the Metropolitan Council on Housing, says he's not buying the Poor Landlord tale, pointing out that landlords' self-reported net profit has grown from 35 cents on the dollar to 40 cents on dollar. "A rent freeze wouldn't even take their profit margin back to pre-recession levels," he told us, noting that the RGB continued to grant rent hikes during the recession. "To say a rent freeze would make a landlord be able to stop providing services, we don't see these landlords that are struggling to make repairs, that don't have the money. We see plenty of people who refuse to make repairs."
Benjamin added that a rent freeze would send a clear message from the de Blasio administration "that they're serious about ending this tale of two cities. That they're serious about restoring some balance of equity, and providing need to millions of tenants..who are almost always in danger of facing eviction."
Currently, one-year leases can see a 4 percent rent raise, while two year leases are allotted a 7.75 percent raise. That rate was massively increased by 10 percent just last year, after landlords claimed their operating costs spiked 5.9 percent. The RGA will be holding four public hearings regarding the proposal, and there will be a final vote on June 23rd.