Some of the residents of New York’s more than one million rent-stabilized apartments pay less than the legally allowed rent. How many? Nobody knows.

The Rent Guidelines Board’s most recent “income and expense study” found a gap of about 15 percent between legal regulated rents and rents that landlords have actually collected. The study notes further:

[T]he gap between collected and legal rent varies widely. In 2008, Manhattan property owners collected an average rent of $1,404, 9.4% lower than [the] average legal rent of $1,550 for Manhattan.In the other boroughs, the differences were more significant, with collected average rents that were 16.9% lower than legal rents in Queens; 17.8% lower in Brooklyn; and 22.1% lower in the Bronx. At least part of this differential in the boroughs is due to … preferential rents, usually offered when the legal stabilized rent exceeds the market rate for the area

The disparity points up a dirty little secret about New York’s housing market: many regulated tenants are not getting a good deal, particularly in the outer boroughs.

In Manhattan, some rents are lower than the legal rents because developers took advantage of a deal under which the city offered tax breaks for a decade in return for the landlords voluntarily putting their new apartments in to the stabilization system, even in cases where the stabilized rent exceeds the $2,000 ceiling for vacant apartments.

For some of these apartments, the market rate has been lower than the regulated rate for the entire decade — calling into question what, exactly, the city got by offering these targeted tax breaks.

We’d know more about this if the state and city mandated public disclosure of all lease deals, just as buyers and sellers of residential real estate must disclose prices.

More on the topic of disclosure tomorrow. To end rent-wars week, The Torch will offer some suggestions on what the state legislature and city hall should do to help tenants, rather than extend blunt price controls.

You may also like

Emails Confirm That Cuomo’s Staff Launched Its ‘Book’ Project in March 2020

A pair of state-employed writers began researching, outlining and drafting a book about Governor Andrew Cuomo's pandemic response in late March 2020, weeks before New York's harrowing first wave had passed, according to newly disclosed email records. Read More

Mayors and School Leaders Face Punishing New Discipline Rules

A state Senate committee on Wednesday approved legislation weakening the ability of local government and school officials to discipline workers Read More

NY school spending again led US, hitting all-time high in 2020-21

Public elementary and secondary school spending in New York rose to $26,571 per pupil in 2020-21, according to the latest Census Bureau data Read More

A Tale of Two Levies

New York school districts are getting record levels of state aid. But how many are using it to cut taxes? Read More

After Budget Binge, Albany’s Hangover May Be Arriving

New York’s latest tax collection data indicate New York’s just-passed state budget was based on rosy assumptions about income tax receipts that are not materializing.  Read More

A Politically Active Medical Group Gains Access to Funds for ‘Distressed’ Providers

A politically connected medical group in the Bronx garnered an unusual benefit in the new state budget – access to money previously reserved for financially troubled safety-net hospitals and nursing homes. Read More

Union Pressure Aims to Hit Home

Lawmakers are considering legislation that would force school districts and local governments to tell unions where their workers live. Read More

Budget deal increases state-share Medicaid spending by 13 percent

(This post has been updated to correct errors.) Albany's newly enacted budget appears to increase the state share of Medicaid spending by $4.2 billion or 13 percent, contin Read More

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!