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A Rent Freeze May Offer Temporary Relief For New Yorkers

Rent control seems to be coming back in style. Is it in time to help New Yorkers stay in New York?

By Jeff Vasishta November 2, 2016
Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock.com

Putting the words “rent” and “freeze” in the same sentence is possibly a landlord’s worst nightmare.  The only phrase that scares them more is “rent rollback”, which what New York tenant’s rights advocates were shooting for in a contentious meeting in Manhattan last week. In an attempt offer some relief from escalating cost of living, New York City Rent Guidelines Board froze rents on one year leases for 12 months and capped two year leases at a two percent increase. Of course, city landlords weren’t thrilled. They had been angling for a three percent increase on one year leases and a five percent on two year leases. According to the city website , that’s not the worst of it for landlords. There’s an initiative which could allow a long term freeze for 20 years!

Related: Top Five Apartments To Rent In Williamsburg—Despite The L Train Shutdown

Around 1.6 million people living in rent-stabilized apartments with leases that must be renewed between Oct. 1, 2016 and Sept. 30, 2017 will be affected by the decision, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio. In a statement, he said these New Yorkers “will now have more security and a better shot at making ends meet,” because of the rent freeze.

In addition, building owners will remain protected because “declining fuel costs have offset other expenses,” the mayor added.

“For the 2nd  year in a row, NYC is freezing rents on one year leases for stabilized apartments so more New Yorkers can keep calling their homes home,” de Blasio tweeted.

But Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents the 25,000 landlords of the city’s one million rent-stabilized apartments, said it was an “abhorrent” decision.

“This is a dangerous, out-of-control mayor desperate to pull up his approval rating at all costs — even if it means forcing independent rate-setting boards to advance his political agenda and break the law,” Strasburg said.

Frank Sinatra famously crooned of New York, “If I can make it here, I’ll make it anywhere,” with good reason. Just living in New York is itself a challenge. According to a Street Easy report, New Yorkers pay two thirds of their income on rent. Brooklyn, officially the most unaffordable place to live in America, is unsurprisingly the worst offender with 65.4 percent of their income spent on rent. The Bronx is the second most rent burdened borough, with residents there expected to spend 54.1 percent of their income on rent. But it’s in Queens, the city’s third most rent-burdened borough, that renters will probably see the greatest increase in the share of their income going towards rent in 2016. In 2015 it was 43.5 percent. This year it’s expected to his 51.6 percent. Manhattanites generally earn the most income but also have high rents and so spend around 49.1 percent on rent.

Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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