NYC rent board approves rate hikes for apartment leases

Andrew Kogan

Tenants in rent-stabilized apartments are now another step closer to seeing their monthly payments increase.

On May 2, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board held a preliminary vote on a proposition to increase one-year leases by anywhere between 2% to 5% and two-year leases by 4% to 7%. 

The board voted 5-4 in favor of the proposition.

Though the vote met harsh criticism from tenant advocacy groups, the outcome pales in comparison to the 16% increase proposed in late April. If that proposal passed, it would have been the board’s largest rent increase in decades.

While some board members favored a 16% increase, two tenant-representing members of the panel proposed a potential rent reduction. For one-year leases, rent would increase or decrease up to 1%. For two-year leases, rent would see no change or increase up to 2%.

The two members, Genesis Aquino and Adán Soltren, said they will remain committed to fighting for “the lowest increases possible” despite their proposal meeting little support from fellow colleagues.

Of the remaining seven members, five represent the public and two represent landlords. New York City Mayor Eric Adams appointed most of the board’s current members.

But Adams criticized the rent increases in a statement after the vote.

“I want to be clear that a 7% rent increase is clearly beyond what renters can afford and what I feel is appropriate this year,” he said

Adams expressed solidarity with the tenants who voiced their concerns about the rent hikes. But he is also noted for being a landlord himself.

While campaigning for mayor in October 2020, Adams said, “I own a small property so I am real estate also.”

But many view Adams’ ambivalence as a weakness and blame the proposed rent hikes on him. is one of the people who share this opinion.

“The outrageous rent hikes proposed by Mayor Adams’s Rent Guidelines Board would only fuel homelessness, displacement, and push more families to the edge,” Sochie Nnaemeka, the director of the New York Working Families Party, said. “We fully and unequivocally reject any further rent hikes.”

Pilar DeJesus of the Rent Justice Coalition shared a similar sentiment, condemning the landlords’ urgency for rent increases.

“We have a really serious housing pandemic, catastrophe, whatever you want to call it,” she said. “The landlords have never opened their books to show us how broke they are.”

But landlords stand firm in their assertion that these rent hikes will be allocated to mandatory endeavors, not their wallets. They said that single-digit hikes are not enough to compensate for rising taxes and inflation.

Jay Martin, the executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, a coalition consisting of roughly 4,000 landlords, said that the passed proposal “does not come close to covering the rising costs in rent-stabilized buildings.”

“Even the highest end of these ranges will not put a penny in rent-stabilized building owners’ pockets,” Martin told The City. “Every single cent…will go to property tax payments, maintenance, skyrocketing insurance, and mandatory upgrades”

Martin further criticized the process in which board members made their decision. He said that lease adjustments should be made based on professional analytics and data rather than a “farcical display” of protesting, referring to the progressive caucus’s and council members’s protest at Cooper Union, the site of the Rent Guidelines Board meeting.

Tenants and their supporters carried several signs that read “Every Rent Increase is an Eviction!” and “Evict Your Landlord!” while other signs cited staggering statistics about evictions and how many people are impacted by them each year.

A second, definitive vote will be held by the Rent Guidelines Board in June. If confirmed, it would be the greatest citywide rent increase in nearly a decade and go into effect on Oct. 1.