It might seem like a given that you’ll pay through the nose to live in New York City, but while it’s true we have the second most expensive rental market (thanks San Francisco!), some residents are currently paying more than they legally have to. A 2015 article suggested that 47% of all apartments in New York City are actually rent stabilized (though we can't vouch for that stat). What we do know is that every year, New Yorkers move into stabilized apartments—abodes that must abide by a city-regulated small-percentage rent increase annually—without even realizing it. So don’t wait for your landlord to reveal this secret they don’t want you to know about; take the initiative and check your apartment’s status.
The NYC Division of Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR) keeps a list of registered buildings with rent stabilized apartments, but it can be daunting to search through the PDF files, and this paperwork alone will not let you know if your particular unit in the building is covered. Luckily, website amirentstabilized.com is the perfect recourse for this.
While you still won’t be able to find out immediately if your apartment is stabilized, the website holds your hand through the process. First, enter your address to see if there are likely rent stabilized units in your building. It’s important to note that most stabilized buildings were built before January 1, 1974, have more than 6 units and are most likely located in Harlem, central Brooklyn and the Bronx. If there is evidence that your unit might be stabilized, then request the unit's rental history with the DHCR (the website provides the phone number, email address, and local office to make this step easier). Once you have the rental history form, you can learn how to decipher it and decide what to do should you learn your unit is indeed rent stabilized. If you think your pad should have a rental rate lower than what you're currently paying, you could sue your landlord for the difference (and they often have to pay three times that amount in penalties).
Remember, though, if you think something has gone afoul, your best bet is to consult an attorney. There are plenty of complicated rules and regulations that come with real estate, and no one-stop website can provide you will all the legal advice you need to move forward in your pursuit of cheaper rents and justice. And, if you need a cheaper room, you can always check our affordable apartment posts.