From the Field: New York City Increases Rents Despite Strong Opposition from Advocates

The New York City Rent Guidelines Board voted on June 26 to approve rent increases for nearly one million rent-stabilized tenants. Tenants & Neighbors, an NLIHC state partner, and the Rent Justice Coalition opposed the increases. Disappointed by the outcome, both groups expressed concerns about low income households’ ability to pay the higher rents.

Data show that New York City landlords have benefited from high rents and substantial rent increases for decades, including an 8.5% increase at the height of the recession in 2009. While landlords continue to reap profits, rent-stabilized tenants are rent-burdened, with more than 30% paying over 50% of their incomes for rent. Rent freezes mitigate the impacts of a skyrocketing rental market and help maintain more manageable rent-to-income ratios for rent-stabilized tenants, according to the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey.

Despite protests and testimony from hundreds of tenants at the Rent Guidelines Board hearings held across the city, the board approved rent increases that were slightly higher than last year’s increases. Rents on one-bedroom apartments were increased by 1.5% and two-bedroom apartment rents were increased by 2.5%. The board passed the increases by a 5-4 vote, with tenant representatives voicing their dissent. The rent increases will apply to leases taking effect on or after October 1, 2018.

“The New York City Rent Guidelines Board has capitulated to the real estate lobby with nothing to back it up,” said Delsenia Glover, director of education and organizing for Tenants & Neighbors. “Tenants are paying in some cases more than 50 percent of their income in rent, especially seniors. Nearly 30 percent of rent stabilized apartments have preferential rents, which means those tenants can get increases anywhere up to the legal regulated rent, which can be up to 10 percent increases or even more in some cases. Do the math. Landlords are making profits.”

To learn more about this topic, contact Delsenia Glover at Tenants & Neighbors at: dglover@tandn.org