Tenants' groups are mounting a last-ditch attempt to stave off steep rent hikes for NYC's stabilized apartments — increases that some tenants say will force them out of their homes.
The board, which sets the rents for more than one million rent-stabilized apartments, will vote June 21 on potential increases of between 2% and 4% for one-year leases, and between 4% and 6% for two-year leases — some of the biggest jumps in a decade.
Tenant groups and advocates are calling for the board to hold rents flat, given the rising cost of household goods, flat wages, and a city’s unemployment rate that is still stubbornly higher than pre-pandemic levels. But landlords say their costs are also going up, and the status quo is not enough to keep them in business or keep their buildings in good repair.
Tenants held signs and burst into chants of “no rent increase,” sometimes booing down landlords trying to make their case during more than three hours of public testimony.
“He needs six percent? I need my whole apartment gutted,” said rent-stabilized tenant Keisha Clarke who said her landlord keeps buying new buildings, while not maintaining hers. She described roach infestations, mold and leaks, as well as stacks of garbage piling up behind the building.
“I’m tired of calling 311 'cause there’s no heat,” she said. “When they’re packing their pockets and living comfortable, we are freezing at home.”
The proposed increases would affect roughly 2.4 million rent-stabilized tenants and are bigger than any seen since former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration. The nine-member board is made up of mayoral appointees — some are holdovers from former Mayor Bill de Blasio and several were recently appointed by Mayor Eric Adams.
Tenants of rent-stabilized apartments have had 18 months of flat rents during the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by six months where the board upped rents by 1.5%. That’s compared to the explosive unregulated market, where median asking rents have soared 28 percent in the last year, up to $3,200, according to Streeteasy — not including hefty broker fees that can set would-be renters back as much as $10,000.
Landlord groups are girding for greater cost increases and have slammed the proposed ranges as still not enough to keep up with the surging prices of fuel, insurance and maintenance.
“We've ridden out some pretty difficult times here in New York City. But this time it feels insurmountable,” Ann Korchak, the president of the Small Property Owners of New York, said Monday night. “We understand that there's risk in running any business. But the regulatory and compliance obligations and the political winds … seem to want to legislate us out of business.”
The final vote on the increases is scheduled for Tuesday June 21st, following a final public hearing on Wednesday afternoon in the Bronx.
A final in-person public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday night at Hostos Community College in the Bronx at 4 p.m. You can register in advance if you want to speak in person. You can also upload video or audio comments online, or call (929) 256-5472 to leave a voicemail. All comments must be received by Thursday June 16th.