It’s no secret that rent control in New York City isn’t what it used to be. In 1995, New York had over two million rent controlled apartments. By 2014, only 27,000 rent-controlled apartments remained, and the numbers continue to decline. But, why? Here, we go over exactly what’s happening to rent control in 2016, and whether it will still exist in the future.

Firstly, rent control is a NYC regulation program that keeps tenants from unfair raises in rent and unjustified eviction. Rent controlled apartments are dwindling due to the program’s guidelines. According to the NYC Rent Guidelines, rent controlled apartments “(apply) to residential buildings constructed before February 1947 in municipalities that have not declared an end to the postwar rental housing emergency.(x)” The resident of the apartment must have resided continuously in the apartment since July 1, 1971 or must have succeeded the apartment from a family member. For rent controlled apartments in one- or two-family houses, the tenant must have resided in the apartment since April 1, 1953.

Once the rent controlled apartment is unoccupied, it is no longer rent controlled. But, in many cases, those apartments become rent stabilized.

Rent stabilization and rent control are similar in that they both regulate rents, but rent stabilized apartments depend on the construction of the apartments. Rent stabilized apartments must be apartments with over six units that were built between February 1, 1947 and January 1, 1974 or buildings with three or more units constructed or extensively renovated since 1974 with special tax benefits(x). Tenants who moved into the apartments after June 30, 1971 are still covered.

So, why are rent controlled apartments becoming so scarce? Well, there are two main factors:

  • Vacancy Decontrol. The falling numbers of rent controlled apartments are not an accident. In 1971, the New York State legislature began vacancy decontrol, which is the process of taking away rent control from vacant apartments. This was done as a procedure to begin enacting rent stabilization, and in replacing rent control with rent stabilization.
  • No Successor. Because of the mandatory occupation date, tenants either must have lived in the apartment since either 1953 or 1971, depending on the apartment; or they must have succeeded the apartment from the original tenent. But, not every tenant has a successor, and there are specific guidelines as to who constitutes as a successor (x). If there is no successor, once a tenant relocates or passes, the apartment will no longer be under rent control regulations.

Unfortunately, unless you currently live in a rent controlled apartment or you are a successor to one, you cannot get a rent controlled apartment. But, there are still programs that promote rent regulations. For more information visit these websites:

http://www.nycrgb.org/html/resources/faq/rentcontrol.html

http://metcouncilonhousing.org/help_and_answers/about_rent_control

http://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/service/5020/2015-new-rent-regulations