New York Politics

NYC panel approves rent hikes up to 5% in stabilized apartments

The powerful panel that sets housing costs in about 1 million rent-regulated apartments in the city voted Tuesday night to approve the largest increases in almost a decade: 5% for two-year leases and 3.3% for single-year leases.


The Rent Guidelines Board — trying to balance pandemic challenges facing renters and inflation pumping landlords’ operating costs higher — voted 5-4 to approve the controversial plan during a raucous meeting at Cooper Union in Manhattan.

“This proposal best balances the need of owners who must pay for costs that are increasing significantly as well as those of tenants who are still dealing with the lingering effects of the pandemic,” said board chairman David Reiss as vocal tenants voiced their displeasure.


More than 2 million New Yorkers are at the mercy of the board’s guidelines. The new rent rules, which take effect at the start of October, amount to the steepest hike since 2013.

The increases sat squarely in the middle of a range — 2% to 4% for single-year leases, and 4% to 6% for two-year leases — supported by the board in a preliminary vote in early May. Mayor Adams expressed support for that range.

The nine-member Rent Guidelines Board operates separately from City Hall, but consists of mayoral appointees. Three of the current members were appointed by Adams, who has walked a fine political line, presenting himself as a friend to renters and landlords alike.

Two of Adams’ three appointees voted in support of the board’s rent hikes. But Adán Soltren, a tenant representative on the board appointed by the mayor, ripped City Hall in remarks ahead of the vote.

“Shame on this administration, and any administration that would put members in place on this board that clearly believe that investments deserve more respect than people,” Soltren said, adding the board’s decision would “result in millions of people suffering.”

The annual inflation rate reached a staggering 8.6% in May, a 40-year high, showing few signs of flagging and forcing the Federal Reserve to ramp up its efforts to cool the economy.

The price surge is crushing tenants and landlords, and the Rent Guidelines Board left both sides frustrated. In the days and hours ahead of the decision, local officials pressured the board.

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, a Queens Democrat, urged for the lowest hike within the range. In testimony she submitted Monday to the Rent Guidelines Board, the speaker said the high end of the range would “endanger far too many New Yorkers who are unable to pay.”


“We cannot afford to plunge hundreds of thousands of rent-regulated New Yorkers into the chaos of a housing market that already does not have sufficient supply to meet demand,” she testified.

The board ultimately settled closer to the middle.

Christina Smyth, a board member representing landlords who was appointed by the mayor, said over jeers that she was seeking to “find balance between the tenants’ burden to pay and a property owner’s ability to maintain housing that is safe, clean and livable.”

In a statement after the vote, Mayor Adams acknowledged the rent increases will be a “burden to tenants at this difficult time — and that is disappointing” but added that some small landlords are “at risk of bankruptcy because of years of no increases at all.”

“This system is broken, and we cannot pit landlords against tenants as winners and losers every year,” the mayor said in the statement. “I will be fighting in Albany for additional support for tenants who are at risk of missing rent payments and landlords who are struggling.”