Rent Guidelines Board hikes rent on stabilized apartments for third straight year at raucous meeting

Rent reform advocates may have notched a big win in Albany this month, but they couldn’t stop the Rent Guidelines Board from raising the rent on stabilized apartments for the third year in a row.

The nine-member board voted 5-4 Tuesday to increase rents by 1.5 % for one-year leases and 2.5 % for two-year leases during a raucous meeting at Cooper Union where protesters often drowned out statements from the panel. The hike comes days after the state legislature passed a sweeping rent reform package that included lowering the cap on monthly rent increases for major capital improvements to 2% a year from 6%. “Small building owners are struggling due to high operating costs,” said David Riess, the board’s chair, who introduced the rent hike. The hike was comparable to 2018′s increase, which saw a 1.5 % hike for one-year leases and a 2.4 % hike for two-year leases. Rent advocates and the Legal Aid Society blasted the vote Tuesday night. “People making minimum wage and with big families can’t take rent increases and pay bills. All this money is going in the landlords’ pockets,” said Randy Dillard, 63, a member of Community Action for Safe Apartments.

Legal Aid’s Adriene Holder, who once sat on the board, said the “panel chose to heed the fear-mongering of landlords.” “It is the most vulnerable, low-income families that are already struggling to get by in one of the most expensive cities in the world who will bear the brunt of this rent increase,” she said. For Joseph Stasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association which represents 25,000 landlords across the five boroughs, the increase didn’t go far enough. He said landlord operating expenses have risen 5.5 %.

“The (board), de Blasio and the State Legislature believe they are solving the housing affordability crisis by placing a stranglehold on rental property owners, but all they are doing is hurting the very people – tenants – they are trying to protect,” he said.

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