Crain’s: Face-off on Rent Regulation

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Landlords of the city's roughly 900,000 rent-regulated apartments insist they are due a big rent increase after years of paltry gains. Tenant advocates say rents should be frozen.

Last week the Rent Guidelines Board made a preliminary decision to raise rents between 0.5% and 2.75% for one-year leases and 1.5% and 3.75% for two-year leases. A final vote is slated for June 25.

"The RGB and City Hall are playing Russian roulette with the economic health of the city's aging affordable-housing stock," said Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents landlords of rent-regulated housing.

Legal Aid Society attorney Adriene Holder countered: "While we are in the midst of an affordable-housing shortage and burgeoning homelessness crisis, it is mystifying that the board voted to raise rents."

Last year landlords were granted 1.5% and 2.5% annual increases for one- and two-year leases, respectively, slightly more than in 2017. In 2015 and 2016, no increases were permitted for one-year leases, and two-year leases got a 2% bump. In 2014 the increases were 1% and 2.75%.

The RSA estimates landlords' costs have risen 21% in the past five years. Strasburg accused the mayorally appointed board of hewing to Mayor Bill de Blasio's signature initiative to mitigate inequality. "The RGB has deliberately ignored its own data," Strasburg said, "which makes it abundantly clear that the RGB is taking its orders from the city administration, rather than acting independently … as it's mandated to do."

But Holder said the board's data show landlords' profits have increased every year for 13 consecutive years.