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What is Rent Stabilization?

You’ve probably heard the terms rent stabilization and rent control.  Yet, it can seem when you are looking for a new apartment, that rents are increasingly higher.  So what do these terms mean, and how do they affect you? 

Rent control refers to laws that restrict the amount that rents can be increased in a given area. In cities, when occupation rates are high and markets are tight, rent control is a way on ensuring that housing remains affordable.

Rent controlled apartments often have lower eviction rates, and there is incentive to keep them well maintained. The downside can be for landlords, who find that expenses may not be so tightly controlled as rent rates.

There is also a downside for apartment hunters – rent controlled apartments often have a low turnover rate, as tenants value to stability and predictability of controlled rent, and realize they may not find a comparable space for the same amount elsewhere. In some cities, renters have even taken to scouring the  obituaries to find out if rent controlled apartments become available.

However, that technique does not always work, depending on the local government and what is allowed. Rent controlled status may not transfer to a new tenant, or a landlord may decide to perform renovations, for example turning a two bedroom apartment into two one bedroom apartments.

If you are a tenant looking for a rent stabilized apartment, you may find that there are lists registered with local government.  For example, in New York City, the Division of Housing and Urban Renewal maintains a list of all the rent controlled apartments in the city.  Sometimes, rent stabilization goes hand inhand with urban renewal, seeking to build tenancy among those who have guaranteed income and can stabilize an area or building with affordable rent.

Do you want to see how your rent compares to others in your neighborhood?  Check your rent rate here and compare to others across your city.

By Adrian Clark

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