Midtown Manhattan BYC buildings

Photo: Robert Claypool/Flickr

After voting to freeze rent increases on stabilized apartments in New York City for the past two years, the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) voted yesterday in favor of an increase. While the final vote remains two months away, housing advocates who had been pushing for a third consecutive year of a rent increase freeze are disappointed with Tuesday’s result.

The RGB was founded in 1969 and sets rents for approximately 1 million rent stabilized apartments throughout the city. On Tuesday the board voted in favor of an increase of 1 to 3 percent on one-year leases, and a 2 to 4 percent increase on two-year leases.

Meanwhile, the Rent Stabilization Association (RSA), which represents 25,000 landlords, had recommended increases of 4 percent and 8 percent on one-year and two-year leases, respectively. The RSA claimed operating costs have risen 11 percent, which it says it has determined using the RGB’s own data. The rent increases were necessary to offset the inflated operating costs, according to the RSA.

The rent freeze two years ago by the RGB on one-year leases was the first in the board’s history. And while last year, the RGB voted to freeze increases on one-year leases, it did vote to raise rent on two-year leases by 2 percent.

“The freezes of the previous two years have only begun to provide some breathing room for rent-strapped tenants,” says Adriene L. Holder, as quoted by the NY Daily News. Holder is an attorney for The Legal Aid Civil Society — an organization dedicated to representing low-income individuals and families — and once sat on the RGB.

Holder cautioned that any increase in rent could put many of the city’s low-income individuals at risk for homelessness.

Yet despite the rent freeze, some landlords are using a 2003 loophole created by lawmakers to raise rents, according to an article published Tuesday by Patch. The loophole involves something called “preferential rent,” which is essentially a rent below the legal maximum under stabilization.

But the problem with “preferential rent” is that increases are not subject to city-set limits like other stabilized apartments. When leases are up for renewal, a landlord can increase the rent substantially, according to Patch.

The RGB will hold its final vote on June 27th.

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