Rental prices in NYC are some of the highest in the United States. If you want to live in Manhattan, it could take $4,000 per month or more to find the right space to call home. Even if you live out in Brooklyn or Staten Island, you could be easily paying over $2,500 per month for some apartments.
The good news is that some apartments in NYC don’t go at the market rate. Some of them are “rent-stabilized.”
Although about 1% of NYC rental units are rent-controlled, about half fall into the “stabilized” category. This term typically applies to units in buildings with six or more apartments that were built before 1974. New buildings with specific tax abatements also qualify for this designation.
The only way to know if you’re looking at a rent-stabilized apartment is to contact Homes and Community Renewal. This state agency is responsible for administering the landlord-tenant laws in New York.
What Are the Benefits of Being in a Rent-Stabilized Apartment?
When you live in a rent-stabilized apartment, you have more rights than those living in homes that operate at the market rate.
The Rent Guidelines Board sets the rent increase each year, which means landlords can only raise the price you pay by a specific amount with a lease renewal.
For rental agreements that started on or after October 1, 2021, a one-year lease must be kept the same for the first six months, then increased 1.5% thereafter. A two-year lease has a maximum 2.5% increase.
The Rent Guidelines Board updates the capped amounts each year. Tenants also have the right to renew their lease annually and have safeguards in place against arbitrary eviction.
How Can I Move into a Rent-Stabilized Apartment in NYC?
Rent controls in NYC occur when a family continuously lives in the same unit since July 1, 1971, or before. Qualifying members can succeed other relatives in this tenancy to keep their cost of living down in the city.
When these apartments become vacant, they transition from being rent-controlled to rent-stabilized.
The exception is if the rent-controlled apartment is in a building with less than six units, allowing it to become de-controlled and returned to the market rate. With 65% of NYC residents renting, there is a lot of competition to get into one of these more affordable units. If you take the following steps, you can start your hunt.
1. Visit the Rent Guidelines Board Website
The Rent Guidelines Board provides a complete list of rent-stabilized units in New York City on their website. This information covers all five boroughs. Some buildings have two addresses, which means both are present and available to consider when openings exist.
You won’t find owner information when looking up information at the Rent Guidelines Board website. If you find a listing to pursue, you can find owner information at the NYC Department of Buildings or JustFix.nyc.
2. Search Specific Neighborhoods
Although rent-stabilized apartments are found throughout the five boroughs, you’ll discover that some neighborhoods have more listings than others. The three best places to start your search are Crown Heights, Washington Heights, and Inwood.
If you don’t have the time to look for individual listings, you can work with a broker to help find the right place to call home. It costs more to engage in these professional services, but you’ll also have more time to handle the other tasks that come along before your transition into the new apartment.
3. Use Online Resources
Websites like StreetEasy offer straightforward search mechanisms and filters that let you find a rent-stabilized apartment with a couple of clicks.
You’ll discover that some building owners work with property management companies to manage their apartments. You can contact the landlord directly to ask if any of the available units qualify for rent stabilization.
Some listings in the classified section of the city’s newspapers will list this information, but the rent stabilization might not be mentioned. You’ll need to contact each owner or landlord directly to get the information you require.
One Final Tip When Looking for Rent Stabilized Units
If you find a building with rent-stabilized units, there isn’t a guarantee that every apartment qualifies. You’ll need to review your lease or speak with your landlord to ensure the one you’re pursuing isn’t at the market rate.
When you can get into a rent-stabilized unit, your rental costs become more predictable. Although it can take longer to find the right place to call home, the effort is well worth it.