Yesterday, The Torch looked at what your rent pays for.

Today: How long do New York renters keep their apartments?

The conventional wisdom is that once a person snags a rent-regulated apartment, he or she keeps it for decades. As owners have built more and more rental units over the past two decades, this story has become less and less true.

According to numbers the city has extracted from the 2008 Housing and Vacancy Survey, households where the residents had lived there for less than one decade (as of 2008) included:

  • 58.1 percent of all New Yorkers
  • 65.5 percent of all renters
  • 60.5 percent of renters in rent-stabilized apartments (the more than one million apartments where the city controls rent increases every year under state law)
  • 83.5 percent of renters in non-regulated apartments
  • 43.7 percent of public-housing renters
  • 17.9 percent of rent-controlled renters (under the law that preceded rent stabilization; there are fewer and fewer rent-controlled tenants, anyway — only 39,901 households left, out of more than 2 million total rental units)
Contrast these figures with longer-term New Yorkers. Households whose owners or tenants had been in one place since prior to 1989 included:
  • 23.3 percent of all New Yorkers
  • 18 percent of renters
  • 20.2 percent of stabilized renters
  • 5.9 percent of non-regulated renters
  • 36.6 percent of public-housing renters
  • 75.7 percent of rent-controlled renters.
Any end to rent stabilization, then, would not result in millions of long-time New Yorkers losing their homes. The relevant figure is about 203,000 households. The state thus could exempt long-term renters from any change in the law, leave the dwindling number of rent-controlled apartments alone, and still free up 820,000 currently stabilized apartments. It could exempt only lower-income and/or elderly long-term tenants, and free up even more.
Tomorrow: how many people pay less than their regulated rents?

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