Eric Adams Looks to the Future
For the first time, he balks at rent increases
On Tuesday, the Rent Guidelines Board took a preliminary vote on a range of increases for rent-stabilized tenants in New York City. The board approved a rent increase between 2% and 5% on one-year leases and between 4% and 7% on two-year leases. These numbers could be finalized in June, representing another hike on working and middle-class renters—last year, the board raised rents on one-year leases by 3.25% and two-year leases by 5%.
Notably, Mayor Eric Adams, a close ally of the real estate industry, has appointed the members of the board who are pushing for the landlord-friendly increases. Property owners in the city have argued that inflation has driven up the costs of maintaining units and they need these rent hikes to keep buildings in working order. Fuel, materials, and labor all cost more, and landlords have claimed they are struggling. Adams has always sided with the owner over the renter. A landlord himself, Adams has been far less friendly to tenants than his predecessor, Bill de Blasio, who approved historic rent freezes and created a program to provide free housing attorneys to low-income tenants facing eviction.
Tenants, of course, are in a much more vulnerable position than landlords. They have no equity in a city where median asking rents are extraordinarily high. Cost of living increases have hit low-income tenants particularly hard, even as wages have risen. It is virtually impossible, if you are a person making less than $60,000 a year in New York, to not dedicate a significant portion of your take home pay to rent, unless you find yourself in a public housing apartment. Given how inordinately long those wait lists are—and the near-impossibility of securing a rent-controlled apartment anywhere—rent-stabilization, which gives the tenant an opportunity at a lease renewal and limits increases to what the RGB sets, is a crucial protection for the million tenants who are lucky enough to occupy such units.
And for the first time, they seem to have a very tentative ally: Adams himself.