New York City rents will freeze for the roughly 2 million New Yorkers living in rent-regulated units for a year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Rent Guidelines Board, the panel that sets the rent for the city’s 1 million rent-regulated apartments, voted 6-3 Wednesday night to implement a one-year freeze running from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021 at the behest of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The freeze also applies to the first year of two-year leases and allows landlords to enact a 1 percent increase in the second year.
“Renters have never faced hardship like this,” de Blasio said in a statement on the freeze, which also applies to first year of two-year leases.
But even the mayor acknowledged the vote is just a small part in a larger effort for economic aid during the pandemic.
“[Renters] desperately need relief and that’s why we fought for this rent freeze,” the mayor went on. “Now, more renters than ever before will get help keeping a roof over their heads. This is one step of many we have to take to get families through this crisis—but it’s a big one.”
The board’s annual vote follows pressure against Gov. Andrew Cuomo to cancel rent for all New Yorkers during the coronavirus outbreak — a measure Cuomo has resisted while expressing sympathy for landlords indebted to banks.
Cuomo has instead favored a moratorium on non-payment evictions, which he has put in place through Aug. 20.
The board’s vote Wednesday faced immediate criticism from landlords accusing the mayor of playing “pandemic politics.”
“Typical de Blasio pandemic politics, denying owners of small buildings, mostly immigrants and people of color, the rent revenue needed to operate their buildings, finance capital improvements, infuse jobs and revenue into their neighborhoods, and pay property taxes that he raises every year,” said Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, in a statement.
The RSA, which represents 25,000 owners of rent-stabilized units in the city, said City Hall should also freeze property taxes.
“They ignored the fact that New Yorkers received government stimulus and enhanced unemployment benefits, and that hundreds of thousands of households are either already back to work or returning in the weeks ahead,” Strasburg added.