See if you’re being screwed out of a rent-stabilized lease

Are these apartments rent stabilized? Maybe! via Flickr user Jon Keegan
Are these apartments rent stabilized? Maybe! via Flickr user Jon Keegan

As we’ve gone over before, sometimes you might be sleeping in a rent-stabilized apartment and you don’t even know it. It’s not a situation limited to Bushwick though, because a new ProPublica investigation shows that almost 50,000 apartments across 5,500 buildings are owned by landlords getting tax breaks that entitle tenants to rent-stabilized leases that they haven’t been given. That’s bad. The good news is that you can easily find out of you’re in a building that’s owed rent stabilized leases.

While we’ve previously talked about how living in a building built between 1947 and 1974 could entitle you to a rent stabilized lease, there’s another way that you can be legally required to be given one of the leases: if your landlord gets a 421-a or J51 tax exemption, their buildings are supposed to offer rent stabilized leases for the duration of the tax breaks. Buildings with those tax breaks have to be registered, but many landlords, especially in Brooklyn and Queens, have neglected to do so and never tell their tenants.

However, a vigilante analyst at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development brought the issue to the attention of ProPublica, who’ve made an easy search tool that allows you to just put your address in to see if your building is getting one of the two tax breaks and how many units in the building are rent-stabilized. You can also look up whether the place you’re living is receiving a tax break here as well. If you find that you’re illegally being deprived of a rent-stabilized lease, all is not lost, since in ProPublica’s F.A.Q. about rent laws in the city recommends some legal services you can use to fight your landlord, claw back some rent overcharges and get your lease back in line. Good luck.

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