A Rent Freeze Is Impractical

To The Editor:

All signs are pointing to an unprecedented rent freeze when the Rent Guidelines Board convenes this Monday to vote on the percentage increase building owners of one million rent-stabilized apartments in the five boroughs can charge tenants on one- and two-year lease renewals.

Mayor Bill de Blasio made “rent freeze” a campaign promise, and the RGB – including de Blasio’s five newly appointed members – last month took a preliminary vote calling for a 0 percent increase on one-year leases.
A rent freeze would hurt tenants and neighborhoods throughout Queens. It would also doom de Blasio’s recently unveiled 10-year housing plan, even before it gets off the ground.

A rent freeze, while politically expedient, is not practical. How can the RGB justify a rent freeze when its own 2013 income and expense study shows the operating costs of building owners of rent-stabilized apartments was 5.7 percent?

A rent freeze would cripple small Queens building owners. That’s because a fair and reasonable rent increase is the sole source of income that enables small building owners to repair and maintain affordable housing.
Queens building owners also support other small businesses in the Borough. They hire local contractors, painters, plumbers, electricians and laborers. All of these companies provide jobs to local Queens residents who then spend at local restaurants and retail shops.

A rent freeze would create massive disinvestment in affordable housing. This would lead to disrepair, loss and eventual abandonment of the quality affordable housing stock in Queens and other boroughs.

There is much riding on a fair and reasonable rent increase – which is why common sense, and not the politics of a rent freeze, must prevail when the RGB takes its final vote this Monday.

Joseph Strasburg,
Rent Stabilization Association