The Rent Guidelines Board voted 5 to 4 to raise rents on one-year leases by 3.25 percent in rent-stabilized apartments, and on two-year leases by 5 percent.

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Question:

I’m a rent-stabilized tenant, and I saw that there will be larger increases to my rent when I renew my lease than there have been in recent years. How are these rent increases determined?

Answer:

Rent increases on one- and two-year lease renewals for rent-stabilized tenants are determined by the Rent Guidelines Board, whose members are appointed by the mayor, so these hikes can change depending on who is in office, says Sam Himmelstein, a lawyer at Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribbin & Joseph, who represents residential and commercial tenants and tenant associations. 

In late June, the RGB voted 5-4 in favor of a rent increase of 3.25 percent for one-year leases that begin between October 1st, 2022 and September 30th, 2023; and 5 percent for two-year leases that start during the same period.

This has come as an unpleasant surprise to many rent-stabilized NYC tenants, since these are the steepest rent increases in nearly a decade. In 2020, for instance, in response to financial hardships caused by the pandemic, there was a rent freeze on one-year leases. (Note that rent increases for rent-controlled apartments, by contrast, are based on the five most-recent RGB annual rent increases for one-year renewals, or 7.5 percent—whichever is less.)

The RGB members are appointed by the mayor, and they determine what the increases should be,” Himmelstein says. “The board is a mix of tenant, landlord, and public representatives, and every year there are raucous meetings where each group tries to advocate for their side.”

While some argue that a 5 percent rent increase isn’t bad—particularly considering the very steep rent increases many market-rate tenants in NYC have been facing–Himmelstein points out that for a low-income family, it can pose quite a hardship. The New York Times notes that the median income for people in rent-stabilized apartments is $47,000.

So why the larger increase this year, when many are still struggling economically? Mayor Eric Adams says that these increases are a middle ground between tenant advocates, who wanted another rent freeze, and landlord advocates, who wanted even bigger increases. He argues that the hikes are necessary to support small mom-and-pop landlords after over two years of the Covid pandemic.

But as Himmelstein notes, most rent-stabilized apartments are in larger buildings.

“The vast majority of stabilized tenants live in bigger buildings that are owned by landlords who own multiple properties—not mom-and-pops,” he says. “This increase is hurtful to tenants.”

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Read all our Ask a Renters Rights Lawyer columns here.


Sam Himmelstein, Esq. represents NYC tenants and tenant associations in disputes over evictions, rent increases, rental conversions, rent stabilization law, lease buyouts, and many other issues. He is a partner at Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben & Joseph in Manhattan. To submit a question for this column, click here. To ask about a legal consultation, email Sam or call (212) 349-3000.

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