NYC tenants face record rents amid proposed hike

Hailey Chin

Real estate company Douglas Elliman Inc., released a report on the median rent prices in three New York City boroughs. This comes in as the city’s Rent Guidelines Board plans to vote on rent hikes.

The boroughs covered were Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. According to the Elliman Report, as of May 2022, the median rent was $2,950 for Northern Queens, $3,250 for Brooklyn and $4,000 for Manhattan.

There was a clear increase in rent across the three boroughs, when compared to prior years.

In Northern Queens, rent is 20% higher than it was in May 2021. In Brooklyn, rent is 18% higher than the prior year. In Manhattan, rent is 25% higher than it was in the previous year and is 2% higher than it was in April, Douglas Elliman claims.

“These rents are at heights we’ve never seen,” Hal Gavzie, the executive director of leasing at Douglas Elliman, told the New York Daily News, “One of every four apartments is in a bidding war. That’s clearly an indication of demand.”

Gavzie credits the changes to “a demand among returning New Yorkers who hit the road during the worst of the pandemic days.”

Schools have reopened, and people are returning to the office. However, workers are now given the flexibility to work from home, which leads to renters choosing to live in places that suit this new lifestyle.

According to its website, the Rent Guidelines Board is “mandated to establish rent adjustments for the approximately one million dwelling units subject to the Rent Stabilization Law in New York City.”

The proposed hikes have strained the relationship between landlords and their tenants, who stand on opposing sides of the discussion. One side would clearly benefit, while the other could lose everything should the proposed hikes be approved.

The board hosts annual public meetings where both tenants and owner groups can speak. It is during these meetings that the two groups collided as they provided their outlook on the situation.

Tenants are staunchly against these rent hikes and held signs that read phrases such as ‘Tenants over profit’ and ‘Stop eviction,’ while chanting ‘No rent increase.’ Many of them cited the poor living conditions of the buildings they are currently living in and believe that their landlords do not deserve to be rewarded.

“He needs six percent?” Keisha Clarke, a single mother who is currently unemployed due to a work injury, told the Gothamist. “I need my whole apartment gutted.”

Clarke described the terrible conditions of the building, conditions that her landlord has ignored in favor of purchasing new buildings. These conditions range from roach infestations and a buildup of garbage behind the building to a lack of heating.

“I’m tired of calling 311 ‘cause there’s no heat,” Clarke said. “When they’re packing their pockets and living comfortable, we are freezing at home.”

On the other hand, landlords are pushing for an even greater rent hike, pointing towards increasing prices of fuel, insurance and maintenance.

Landlord Joanna Wong believes that rent hikes are necessary for landlords to maintain their buildings.

“If buildings are not kept up to date, slowly they deteriorate and then no one wins,” Wong told ABC7 New York.

The outraged tenants outnumber the landlords. Journalist Natalia Marques has spoken out against the argument of increasing utility bills that many landlords have used to justify rent hikes.

“Landlords are saying they need this money for repairs and rent stabilized tenants know that the repairs we get are shoddy, they’re insufficient,” Marques told Spectrum News NY1.

An increase in rent could leave many of the affected New York residents homeless and targets an already vulnerable population.

The board held a final vote on June 21, raising one-year leases 3.25% and two-year leases 5%. The decision is expected to go into effect in October.