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Is it rent control or rent stabilization?

Many New Yorkers are housed in units that are either rent-controlled or rent-stabilized, and while the two terms are similar forms of rent regulation, they are not synonymous.

The New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey estimates that in 2014, 1,030,000 apartments were rent stabilized, compared to only 27,000 units that were rent controlled.

The city's Division of Housing and Community Renewal is the agency responsible for the regulations for both rent-stabilized and rent-controlled apartments.

Rent control usually applies to those residential buildings that were erected prior to February 1947 in those municipalities that are still in a postwar rental housing emergency. New York City is only one location that uses rent control; there are 50 other municipalities within the state that also do.

Rent-controlled apartments have strict rules governing their occupancy, including that tenants or their lawful successors, e.g., spouses, adult lifetime partners and family members have to have continuously occupied their apartments since June 30, 1971, or before.

Rent-controlled apartments that become vacant are either rent-stabilized, or in buildings having fewer than six units, can be removed from regulation entirely.

To be considered rent-controlled, apartments in single- or double-occupancy houses have to be continuously occupied by tenants since April of 1953. Once the home is vacant from that date, it is free of regulation.

There are other grounds for deregulating rent-controlled apartments, and very limited grounds can qualify a previously decontrolled unit back under rent regulation, usually rent law violations.

Rent stabilization in the five boroughs usually applies to those units inside complexes with more than five apartments that were built between February 1947 and January 1974. Those living in complexes constructed prior to the above date who established occupancy on or after July 1, 1971, also fall under rent stabilization regulations. Buildings that have at least three units that have been extensively renovated after 1974 using special tax benefits may be rent stabilized as long as those tax benefits continue.

There are of course exceptions to these regulations. When questions arise over tenant rights in properties, a real estate attorney or personnel with the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal can address the issues and effect a resolution.

Source: New York City Rent Guidelines Board, "Rent Control FAQ," accessed Oct. 20, 2016

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