We’ve all heard the stories of the New Yorker paying just a few hundred dollars a month for their apartment. Many renters think this is a pipe dream – something that is only available to the New Yorkers who were lucky enough to find a good deal in the 1970s and never leave. When apartment hunting, most renters are thinking about the price, the neighborhood, its accessibility to transit, if it has enough bedrooms, and the list goes on. But rarely do renters specifically try and find a rent-stabilized apartment.
But you don’t need a time machine to get your hands on a regulated apartment. New York City has an estimated 1 million rent-stabilized apartments (about 44% of all NYC units). Generally, you can expect buildings with six or more units built before 1974 to have rent-stabilized units. But many new construction buildings have stabilized units as well. Developers receive tax abatements from the city in exchange for this stabilization status.
Even though residents generally praise New York City for being tenant-friendly, many renters struggle to navigate the complex rent regulations. You could live in a rent-stabilized apartment and not know.
Without knowing if you live in a rent-stabilized apartment, you can’t hold your landlords accountable and could be subject to illegal rent increases.
openigloo users have been sharing anonymous reviews about their buildings and landlords. Some renters have shared their experience of learning they were occupying rent-stabilized units and paying more than the legal rent. One openigloo user shared, “Our apartment was rent-stabilized, but the landlords didn’t disclose it, overcharged us for years while submitting increases to the NYC government.”
What is a rent-stabilized apartment in NYC, and why should you care about them?
The New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) oversees rent regulation. Rents rose sharply in many postwar buildings in 1969, causing the rent-stabilization system to take effect. Simply, having a rent-stabilized lease means 2 things:
The landlord has to renew your lease
The rent can only go up a certain amount every year
How much can your landlord raise the rent on a stabilized lease?
NYC’s Rent Guidelines Board meets every June to set the allowable increases for rent-stabilized leases. This year the board voted that 1-year lease renewals starting between October 1, 2023 and September 30, 2024, can increase by 3%. For 2-year renewals, the landlord can increase the rent 2.75% in year 1 and 3.2% in year 2. If you’re not sure whether you should choose a 1-year or 2-year renewal, take a look at our article on how to strategize a stabilized renewal. You can also use our Rent-Stabilized Calculator to make sure the price you receive on your renewal is correct. And remember, these increases should be based on your preferential rent, not the legal rent.
So how can you find out if you have a rent-stabilized unit if your landlord hasn’t disclosed it?
You can request your rental history from DHCR here. Only the tenant, owner, or appointed representatives can request an apartment’s rental history. DHCR will mail you a copy. Your landlord WILL NOT be notified that you’ve requested this information.
But how can you find a rent-stabilized apartment?
Unfortunately, the city does not share publicly which units are stabilized. This is why we ask renters to share this info in their openigloo reviews.
For example, one Brooklyn renter shared:
“These apartments are rent stabilized which means they can’t raise rents more than a certain amount – make sure you are getting the right lease renewal as they depend on renters not knowing their rights on this.”
Additionally, landlords register their regulated apartments with the city every year. So we have a working list of addresses with these registrations. But we don’t know which units benefit from stabilization. We’ve added a rent-stabilized tag to every building profile with associated registrations, so tenants can narrow their apartment hunt to just those addresses.
Making sure you get a rent-stabilized lease
If you’ve found a stabilized apartment or learned that you are already in one, make sure you get a rent-stabilized lease from your landlord. Landlords should include a rent stabilization rider with the lease as well. It’s important to note that rent-stabilized leases must be for one or two years; you can not have a six-month rent-stabilized lease.
So while New York is trying to make renting in this city a little easier and more affordable, it’s up to the renter to know the status of their apartment and what laws apply to them. So the next time you’re in the market for an apartment, try and get your hands on a rent-stabilized apartment.
Do you live in a rent-stabilized building you love? Share your experience on openigloo – you can help future renters find (or avoid) their next apartment.
On June 21, the NYC Rent Guidelines Board voted on the allowable rent increases for rent-stabilized apartments. The Rent Guidelines Board is responsible for setting the allowable increases on stabilized apartments every year. Leases commencing after October 1, 2023 will experience a 3% increase on 1 year renewals. The vote on 2-year renewals was two-fold; a 2.75% increase on the first year, and 3.2% increase on the second year.
This is similar to last year’s vote: for 1 year renewals, 3% and for 2 year renewals 5%.
So what does this mean for rent-stabilized renters? It depends on a few things.
Stabilized renters who have a lease renewal coming up before October 1:
For renters with leases expiring before Oct 1, 2023, the Rent Guidelines Vote doesn’t apply to them yet. They will renew their lease based on the increases of last year’s vote. Whether to renew for 1 or 2 years is the question. If a renter is planning to stay in your apartment long-term, it may be wise to consider the 2 year renewal at 5% since the Guidelines Board just priced one year renewals at 3%. So if you renew for 1 year at last year’s vote for 3.25% and then again for 1 year at this year’s vote of 3%, that’s a higher increase than just signing for two-years at 5%.
Stabilized renters who have a lease renewal coming up after October 1:
These renters will have an increase determined by the new vote. These renters too must decide whether to renew for 1 or 2 years. We asked renters to share why they’re considering a 2 year lease renewal. One stated “I prefer the certainty of locking in the rate for 2 years. I don’t want to worry about increased rent next year”. While another renter is opting for the 1 year renewal because “we likely won’t be here longer than that”. Of course there are some renters that may be betting that the Board vote will be much lower next year and opt to extend just 1 year and wait for next year’s result.
For renters who are unsure whether they have a stabilized apartment, they should submit a request for their rental history to DHCR. Find more information here.
Renters who have a stabilized lease should make sure their renewals are in accordance with the Rent Guidelines Board vote. Openigloo put together this calculator to help stabilized tenants determine what their new rent should be – based on the guidelines vote, the lease expiry and the length of the renewal. Learn more here.