Following two years of rent freezes, the city’s Rent Guidelines Board will take a final vote on Tuesday to determine whether or not rents will be increased by at least one percent. Earlier this year in April, the board voted to increase rents by one to three percent for one-year leases and four percent for two-year leases in a preliminary vote. According to the Wall Street Journal, the board released a study that showed landlord costs rose in the past year, a shift that landlords say warrants an increase in rents on new leases that take effect on or after Oct. 1.
To measure rental affordability, experts look at the percentage of income spent on rent. According to the latest census data, this percentage in New York City declined to its lowest level in five years. Census figures also show that in 2015, 32 percent of New Yorkers’ income went to rent and utilities, compared with 32.7 percent in 2014. Costs for landlords jumped 6.2 percent and property taxes rose 7.8 percent, according to the board’s study.
The board is made up of five public members who often vote together, and two tenants and two owner representatives. Landlords say these members have favored tenants under Mayor de Blasio in the past and have starved buildings struggling with paying for upkeep. Jack Freund, the executive vice president of the Rent Stabilization Association, told the WSJ: “The tenants are on a tear because they are playing the game on home turf.”
Under De Blasio, who ran for office on the promise of a rent freeze, rents on one-year leases have gone up a total of one percent over three years because of a one percent increase adopted soon after he took office by a board member appointed by former Mayor Bloomberg. Building owners sued after last year’s rent freeze, saying the process was politically motivated. The complaint was tossed out in March by a New York State Supreme Court.
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