Community Resource Guide

table of contents

Legal and Regulatory Information

  • Rent Stabilization

About 1 million units in NYC are considered rent stabilized. Rent stabilization is one of two types of rent regulation in the city, the other being rent control. When a unit is rent stabilized, rents can only increase as prescribed by the Rent Guideline Board (RGB).

The best way to determine if a unit is rent stabilized is for the tenant to request the rental history. However, when researching a building, it can be challenging to find data on whether or not there are rent stabilized units in a building. One way to find an estimate of the number of rent stabilized units in a building is to look at the tax bill. Landlords are supposed to register rent stabilized units yearly. They are then billed a per unit fee which appears on their tax bill.

Frustratingly, the city does not make rent stabilization data accessible. It is possible to see how much was billed per building on tax documents, but these are only accessible via pdf. There has been an effort to gather this data in a tabulated form from taxbills.nyc who have scraped the tax bill pdfs going back to 2007. This data allows you to get an estimate for how many rent stabilized units there have been in a building overtime. Importantly, this will be an estimate as it is not uncommon for landlords to decide not to register or to stop registering rent stabilized units even if the unit has not technically come out of stabilization.

An easy way to access this information is through the Who Owns What website which pulls from this datasource as well as NYC Doffer to provide information about the change in the number of rent stabilized units per building. You can also download a CSV of the scraped information from the taxbills.nyc GitHub linked above.

  • Housing Court Data

There are two sources of data available related to Housing Court. The first is the Evictions dataset from the Department of Investigations (DOI) on Open Data. This dataset provides information on eviction cases where a warrant has been issued. You are able to see the address; whether the execution of the warrant (a marshall actually going to the apartment) is pending, scheduled, or has occurred; and some other information. Notably, this dataset only accounts for a small number of the total evictions that occur as it does not capture informal evictions or evictions where a court proceeding is initiated but the tenant leaves before a warrant is issued.

Unfortunately, informal evictions - those where no court proceedings ever take place - are not tracked. However, accounting for instances where court proceedings are started but no warrant is issued allows for a more accurate count of the number of evictions in a building as it is common for tenants to move out before reaching that stage. For a long time this was not possible; however, through the efforts of the Housing Data Coalition (HDC), we can now access anonymized filling information from the Office of Court Administration (OCA) from 2016 on.

Filing data is available on two levels. The first is at the zip code level to which there is free access. This level of data will allow you to determine the number of eviction filings per zip code over time. The second level of data requires permission to access. This level of data includes BBLs for buildings with 11 or more units. In other words, for larger multifamily buildings you are able to see eviction filings over time; however, apartment numbers are not included. Importantly, for both levels of this data the court filing numbers (referred to as indexnumberids in the datasets) are randomly generated so that the tabular data cannot be used in conjunction with the Court website to create tenant blacklists.

In terms of accessing either level of data, one will need to be able to use SQL. If one is unfamiliar with database querying, they can make a data request to HDC given capacity. Additionally, if one wants access to the BBL level data, they will have to make a request to HDC and be approved.

  • Attorney General Real Estate Finance Bureau

Buildings throughout the city sometimes undergo either condo or co-op conversions. When a building is converted, the ownership structure changes. In the case of condos, individual tenants will own their own units; in the case of co-ops, tenants will own a number of shares in the building relative to the size of their unit. These conversions can be spurred by various factors, one being that the current owner of the building is not collecting as much in rent as they would like relative to the operating expenses of the building. While condos and co-ops are a way of increasing homeownership rates in the city and can, therefore, contribute to wealth accumulation, displacement and increased levels of distress have been known to occur when these conversions take place specifically in buildings where rent controlled or rent stabilized tenants live.

The Real Estate Finance Bureau regulates the offer and sale of real estate securities. When an owner wants to initiate either a condo or co-op conversion, they must submit an offering plan to the Bureau. These offering plans, as well as any subsequent amendments to them, are available through the Real Estate Finance Database.

This HPD program is aimed at addressing serious violations in buildings that landlords are not correcting. HPD will oversee the repairs and then charge the landlord for the work done through DOF. If the landlord does not pay these charges, a lien will be placed on the property. If the debt remains unpaid, it may be included in the city’s lien sale.

In order to identify if there are charges on a property from the Emergency Repair Program, you will need to look at DOF’s CityPay site. You can read how to do this in the Financial Conditions section of this guide.

  1. Alternative Enforcement Program (AEP)

This HPD program targets buildings with high levels of violations. Once a building is included in the program, there will be more frequent inspections. HPD can also issue Orders to Correct to force the owner to deal with conditions in the building. If the conditions specified in the Order to Correct are not remedied, HPD is able to make the repairs themselves and place a lien on the building for the costs incurred.

There are two ways to look at AEP data. The first are the PDF lists on the HPD website. These PDFs are organized by Fiscal Year and include the buildings’ addresses; the borough, Council District, and Community District they are located in; and the number of units. The second way to access AEP data is through Open Data. This table compiles all of the Fiscal Year lists, it also includes more information than the PDF building lists. In addition to the address and number of units the table has BBLs, the number of B&C HPD violations that were open when the building was selected, and whether or not the building has since been discharged from the program.

  1. Certification of No Harassment (CONH)

A building’s inclusion in the CONH program means that the owner must get a Certification of No Harassment before they can apply for a permit to change the use or occupancy of a building. Buildings must meet this requirement if they are a single room occupancy, are a multifamily building within specified areas, or were included in the Pilot Program Building List.

CONH data can be accessed in two ways similar to AEP data. The first is a PDF of the Pilot Program Building List on the HPD website linked above. This PDF includes BBL information; addresses; columns indicating why the building has been included in the program - AEP, HPD Vacate Order, DOB Vacate Order, and Harassment Finding; and the date that the building was added to the list. The second way to view CONH information is through Open Data. The Open Data table includes the same information as the PDF with some additional geographic columns.

  • Tax Breaks and Subsidies

Below we will walk through some of the main tax breaks and subsidies that are utilized throughout the city. This is by no means a comprehensive list. To learn more about the different programs available, visit the Furman Center’s Directory of NYC Housing Programs.

  1. J51

This tax abatement program came into existence in 1955. In its current form, it can be applied to residential buildings that are undergoing rehabilitation as well as nonresidential buildings that are being converted to residential properties. Properties can receive either a 34- or 14- year long tax abatement meaning that the real estate tax due on the property will not increase due to the rehabilitation of conversion for that amount of time. This program does come with the stipulation that all rental units in the building must be treated as rent stabilized for the length of the abatement period.

There has been controversy about the widely used program. Tenants have reported poor building conditions during the abatement period, and many have faced displacement due to large rent increases after the abatement period - and required rent stabilization of units - has ended. Additionally, the advocacy group Housing Rights Initiative has discovered through class-action lawsuits that apartments are frequently illegally deregulated even while landlords receive J51 tax abatement.

You can find buildings included in the program on DOF’s website. Another way to find properties benefiting from this exemption is through the Furman Center’s CoreData.nyc application. Historical data is available on Open Data along with updating information in the Property Exemption Detail table; note this table includes information about multiple exemption programs.

  1. 421-a

This program extends a partial real estate tax exemption for the new construction of residential units. The exact exemption a building is eligible for depends on when its construction occurred. To read about the specifics of the sub-programs see HPD’s site. In general, buildings receive a 35 year long partial tax exemption in exchange for making 25% - 30% of the units in the development affordable.

The program is widely used, with the bulk of new residential projects taking advantage of the large savings it offers. It is highly controversial as it costs the city billions of dollars in lost tax revenue and does not yield many truly affordable apartments - many of the units counted as affordable target tenants making over $100,000. Brad Lander, the City’s Comptroller, issued a report investigating the efficacy of the program which found that the forgone tax revenue was not justified by the housing created - far too few ‘affordable’ units were developed and most were out of reach for those in need.

You can find lists of properties with the exemption on HPD’s website. You can also filter for this program on Furman Center’s CoreData.nyc application.

  1. Article XI

This program allows for either a partial or total tax exemption from real estate taxes for up to 40 years for the rehabilitation of or construction of affordable housing by a Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC). HDFCs must be chartered by either HPD or the State Department of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR).

  1. LIHTC

This program was originally enacted in 1986 in order to incentivize investment in less lucrative affordable housing by private entities. In its current form, it allows for developers of rental housing that serves very low- and low- income households to sell tax credits to investors. These tax credits allow investors to lower their taxable income, effectively letting them pay less in federal income tax. There are two types or levels of LIHTC: 4% and 9%. These percentages refer to the amount of development costs that can be considered when calculating the tax credit. In other words, buildings with the 9% credit generate a relatively larger tax credit for investors than buildings with the 4% credit.

You can find properties with either the 4% or the 9% credit on Furman Center’s CoreData.nyc.

  1. Project Based Section 8

This program is part of the Housing Choice Voucher program. It is similar to tenant based section 8 in that it serves very low- and low- income tenants by capping rent at 30% of their income, but it differs in the fact that the subsidy is tied to the unit instead of the tenant. Because of this, potential tenants must meet income requirements in order to move into the subsidized unit.

You can see a list of developments that are a part of the program here.