In 2013, Bill de Blasio campaigned for mayor of New York City on the promise of relief for the millions of people who rent in New York City.
“Tenants desperately needed a rent freeze,” de Blasio said during the campaign, according to the Wall Street Journal.
On Monday night, he was finally able to fulfil that promise, as the de Blasio-appointed New York City Rent Guidelines Board voted 7-2 to freeze rent increases on rent-stabilised apartments with one-year leases in New York City.
It’s a move that will affect some 1.2 million tenants, according to The New York Times. It was the first rent freeze in the board’s 46-year history. It was also the first time that all nine members on the board appointed entirely by de Blasio voted on a rent decision.
“We know tenants have been forced to make painful choices that pitted ever-rising rent against necessities like groceries, child care and medical bills,” de Blasio said said in a statement praising the decision. “Today’s decision means relief.”
The board also agreed to increase rent on two-year leases by only 2%, another historic low. The rent freezes are scheduled to take effect for renters signing leases starting Oct. 1.
The rent freezes came at an opportune time for a broad swath of New Yorkers, as rents have been increasing over the last three years at a median rate of 4.3% a year, including utilities, according to The New York Times. Curbed New York City reports that rent hikes in New York City have far outpaced income growth and inflation over that same span, adding that 30% of renters in New York are “severely rent burdened.”
The Rent Stabilisation Association, which represents 25,000 landlords in New York City, blasted the decision as “unconscionable” and said it would lead to landlords investing less in building upkeep and maintenance.
“A rent freeze on the surface may sound pro-tenant,” Joseph Strasburg, president of the association, told the Times. “But the reality is landlords will now have to forgo repairing, maintaining and preserving their apartments, which will trigger the deterioration of quality, affordable housing de Blasio pretends to care about.”
He characterised the decision as a “politically driven” one meant to “carry out de Blasio’s campaign promise of two years ago.”
But the freeze was met with cheers from New Yorkers who witnessed the decision. The Wall Street Journal said 900 New Yorkers filled the Great Hall at Cooper Union, where the rent board meeting was held Monday night. They chanted, “Rent rollback, rent rollback.”
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