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Arguments why RGB should have voted for a rent freeze

We recently noted for readers the results of the June 26 vote taken by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board on rent-stabilized lease increases. The RGB decided to raise rents 1.5% and 2.5%, respectively, on one-year and two-year lease terms effective October 1 of this year. That adjustment spelled the largest spike in several years.

Legions of people across the metro area expressed ire and great concern in the wake of the RGB's announcement. A rental jump of any amount has been criticized on multiple grounds. Leah Goodridge, a board representative who took a minority position by voting for a freeze, explained her reasons for doing so in a recent media opinion piece. Following are some of her key points.

For starters, city landlords are collectively making sizable profits from rent-stabilized units, even after all expenses are factored in. As Goodridge duly notes, the board's own research confirms that.

And then there's this: Prior to this year's vote, landlords had prevailed in getting "high rent increases" for over a decade. Goodridge points out those exactions on tenants persisted even during the economically challenging years of the so-called Great Recession. She says that comparing 10 years of rental jumps to a couple years of freezes interspersed does not "add up" from a fairness perspective.

Goodridge also cites a 20:1 differential between tenants and landlords showing up to voice concerns at various hearings held this year across the metro area. Reportedly, 262 tenants testified at those venues, with only 12 landlords doing so.

Goodridge says that such a variance in participation, while dramatic, is not surprising. Landlords are already solidly in the black and persistently profiting, she stresses. They really don't have any concerns to express, "because they have much lower stakes."

Her bottom line: Landlords didn't need raised rental percentages, nor did empirical evidence justify them.

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