How Rent Control Works in New York City

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Rent control in New York City can be a tricky thing. Rent controlled apartments are often confused with rent stabilized apartments, and many people don’t really know what either of these terms means. People simply associate them with lower rent, which is a hot commodity in NYC apartment rentals.

Rent Controlled Apartments

A rent controlled apartments are usually pre-war apartments built prior to 1947. In order for an apartment to be rent controlled, the apartment must be resided in by the original tenants from 1971, or a successor, being a family member. What this means is that the only way for you to get your hands on a rent controlled apartment is for the rental agreement to have been assigned to you by a lawful family member that resides in the apartment. For example, let’s say your friend’s grandmother has a rent controlled apartment in New York City, and she is moving to Florida. Your friend asks you if you want to rent the apartment when she moves out. The apartment is no longer rent controlled at this point; it will most likely become rent stabilized instead.

The Cost of a Rent Controlled Apartment

The rent that a landlord is allowed to charge on a rent controlled apartment is capped. Government officials establish a maximum rent for that apartment. The landlord is only allowed to increase the rent every two years on the apartment at a rate of 7.5%, until that maximum rent is reached. Then, he can no longer raise the rent.

Rent Stabilized Apartments

Rent stabilization laws in New York City regulate the maximum percentage amounts that landlords can increase the rent on an apartment unit each year. Rent on rent stabilized apartments in New York City must be under $2000 (upon vacancy). After a vacancy, if the rent surpasses $2000, the apartments no longer qualify for rent stabilization, and is deregulated. Also, if the rent surpasses $2000, and the tenant’s income level is greater than $175,000, the apartment becomes deregulated.

How to Find a Rent Controlled or Rent Stabilized Apartment

Chances are, you will know if you are eligible for a rent controlled apartment. It will either be the apartment you grew up in, your grandparent’s apartment or the apartment of another relative. Consequently, most New Yorkers are focused on finding rent stabilized apartments. Rent in NYC is very high, and finding a rent stabilized apartment helps to keep your rent down. That being said, these apartments are very hard to find. People in New York City who have the advantage of renting a rent stabilized apartment, have a very hard time parting with them. Monthly rent under $2000 in New York City is very, very cheap – even for a studio or small one bedroom.

If you are looking to keep your rent down, you should definitely scour the newspapers and Internet for rent stabilized apartments. The three things to keep in mind to help you out in your search is that (1) the building must have 6 or more units, (2) the building must have been built prior to 1974 and (3) the building is not a co-op or a condo (so no sublets).


Emily Gojko: I am a writer, marketer, and manager with a strong background in real estate development and management. I am also a native New Yorker with an obsession for home design shows, so I have personal and professional experience making the most of small spaces, and dealing with good and bad living situations.

One Response to “How Rent Control Works in New York City”

  1. April 29, 2010 at 11:10 am, Susan said:

    Your information on rent-controlled apartments is not accurate. The maximum base rent increases every two years so that the rent never gets to a point were it stays the same–in other words, the “cap” keeps moving up. Permanent per room charges for capital improvements as well as fuel surcharges also increase the rent. And you can only “inherit” a rent controlled apartment if you have been living in it for two years before the primary lease-holder dies or leaves.

    Readers may find up to date information on the web sites of the tenants’ organizations Tenants and Neighbors and Metropolitan Council on Housing, as well as the various NYC agencies listed at


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