It’s no secret that NYC has some of the priciest rent in the world, but some non-New Yorkers don’t realize that the rent for a large percentage of New York City’s apartments is legally protected from getting too expensive. Kind of cool, right? While there are two kinds of rent regulation provided by New York City law, the most common kind of rent control in NYC is called rent stabilization.
Rent stabilization is a system that protects the affordability of rental housing by only allowing landlords to increase rent by a certain percentage each year. The percentage changes depending on whether tenants sign a one or two-year lease, and is also based on what year they began living in their unit.
The rent stabilization system can be complicated, but it helps a lot of New Yorkers live affordably. Here are a few quick facts about rent stabilization, so you know how it works.
- Rent-stabilized apartments are usually found in buildings built before 1974 and have more than six units.
- Typically, the cost of rent-stabilized apartments cannot be higher than $2,500 per month.
- Landlords are required to register their apartment with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, which means that NYC residents have the right to request information about the unit they are renting.
- About half of NYC units are rent-stabilized – that’s close to one million apartments.
So, what does all this mean? Well, since this is New York City, rent stabilization can lead to some pretty wacky living scenarios. Here are just a few of some unique apartment set-ups that clever New Yorkers accomplished thanks to NYC’s rent stabilization laws:
- Fannie Lowenstein was able to live at The Plaza Hotel for over 30 years paying only $500 a month in rent. The hotel staff nicknamed her “the Eloise from hell” due to her specific demands.
- Because rent-stabilized apartments can be passed down amongst family members and spouses, there is a one-bedroom apartment in SoHo where the tenants pay $55 a month for rent! The last known resident was Thomas Lombardi, whose family has lived in the apartment since they emigrated to NYC in the 1940s.
- It can be lucrative to stay in your apartment once ownership of the building is transferred to a new company. According to The New York Times, a woman named Maggie Kim was offered over $75,000 just to move out of her rent-stabilized unit – though that was after Maggie declined the developer’s several previous offers.
The above stories aren’t the norm, but they show that rent-stabilization is one of the many ways that NYC is unique.
If you’re interested in finding affordable NYC housing, several online resources help potential tenants with rent-stabilized housing. NYC Housing Connect lists recently opened affordable housing options, and be sure to check out the New York City Rent Guidelines Board.
Apartment hunting in NYC can be tough and exhausting, but when you find the perfect apartment – stick with it as long as you can. If it’s rent-stabilized, you’ll probably end up saving a whole lot of money than if you’d rented a place at market rate, and might even make a profit in the process.