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The city's rent-stabilized tenants scored a major victory last night, as the Rent Guidelines Board voted for a rent freeze for the first time in its nearly 50-year history. This means that if you live in a stabilized apartment on a one-year lease, your landlord can't raise the rent at all when you renew this year. (The board also approved a two percent increase for two-year stabilized leases, which is a historic low in its own right, but not exactly as thrilling as an actual freeze.)
The RGB cited data indicating that while landlord operating costs have risen minimally (thanks in large part to low fuel prices), most stabilized tenants haven't seen their incomes go up along with rents, and the majority of these renters could rightfully be considered rent-burdened. One of the board's tenants' representatives even conceded that the data "supports a rent rollback," but that in the absence of sufficient votes on the board for a rollback, a freeze would be the next best thing.
While most of the predictably raucous crowd at the vote was hoping for an actual rollback (save the one lone, awkward contrarian we spotted half-heartedly holding up a sign that just read "Free Market"), the freeze is still considered a significant win for tenants—and the long-awaited culmination of one of Mayor de Blasio's more potent campaign promises.
“We know tenants have been forced to make painful choices that pitted ever-rising rent against necessities like groceries, child care and medical bills," the Times reports de Blasio saying. "Today’s decision means relief.”
Naturally, landlord advocates aren't anywhere near as excited, and are already citing the freeze as a catalyst for increased negligence in building maintenance and higher rents on market rate tenants. (It's a familiar argument). But now that a freeze is actually in effect, we finally get to see what—if any—negative effect this whole thing will have on the city's renters.
The freeze applies to leases starting October 1st and is in place until next year September 30th, according to the RGB, so if your stabilized lease is up for renewal in that window, kick back and enjoy the peace of mind that comes when you don't spend every day dreading the potential rent hikes your landlord has in store.