Holding on to that Rent-Stabilized Apartment Is Getting Harder in Some Neighborhoods

There are still more than 900,000 rent-stabilized apartments in New York City, but these regulated units are turning over at a faster rate in certain neighborhoods, according to a new report by the city’s Independent Budget Office

Astoria, Morningside Heights and Bay Ridge all have high concentrations of rent-regulated housing built prior to 1974. It’s an important distinction, because older units are more likely than newer units to rent below market rates, the report says. But the neighborhoods also have particularly high turnover rates compared to other parts of the city, says the budget office’s Sarah Stefanski.

“High turnover rates may indicate tenant mobility, changing neighborhood characteristics, or perhaps landlord efforts to vacate apartments,” Stefanski said.

Diane Brown from the Justice For All Coalition has been organizing against gentrification in Astoria, which had 16,543 rent stabilized apartments between 2010 and 2015. She said the 300 members of her group are constantly complaining about rising rents.

“They are moving out because they almost can’t afford the area anymore. The supermarkets are going up. Everything is changing.”

Brown said tenants that get pushed out often resort to renting rooms because they can no longer afford an entire apartment.

In Upper Manhattan, several neighborhoods have been gentrifying for years, but there are significant differences in the rate of turnover. The southern portion of Washington Heights had just over 21,000 rent stabilized apartments and a turnover rate of 9 percent, according to the report. Nearby Morningside Heights, with just over 7,100 rent stabilized apartments, had a turnover rate of 17 percent.

“Neighborhoods that come first out of rent stabilization are ones where the rents were higher to start with,” said Evan Hess, from Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation. “So that you could reach $2,700 dollars more quickly.”

That’s the threshold at which landlords may deregulate their apartments once they become vacant. Hess said that although Washington Heights appears to be better off, rents in the area have started to hit the limit, sometimes through illegal rent hikes. He said tenants are getting displaced and moving to the Bronx and parts of New Jersey.

According to the report, the Upper West Side also has a low turnover rate. Hess speculated that’s because the renters there are more affluent. “And wealthier people living in rent stabilized housing have more resources available to resist landlords attempts to displace them,” he said.

For a look at the turnover rate in your neighborhood, look at the Independent Budget Office map embedded below.