You’re Never Going to Live in a Rent-Stabilized Apartment

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Probably hard to get. Photo: STAN HONDA/2007 AFP

In a city where people are, by necessity, obsessed with the price of real estate, getting ahold of a rent-stabilized apartment is among the many dreams of most New Yorkers. Unfortunately, like a lot of big-city goals, it's increasingly hard for newcomers to make it happen. While nearly half of Manhattan apartments are rent-stabilized (who knew?), it's getting easier for existing tenants to hold on to their awesome deals. The New York Times reports:

Last year, lawmakers in Albany strengthened protections for tenants, raising the rent ceiling to $2,500 a month from $2,000 before an apartment can be deregulated, and the annual income limit to $200,000 from $175,000. In Manhattan, the new rules affect nearly 250,000 apartments.

Meanwhile, the Manhattan vacancy rate is about one percent. Those hoping to snag the few rent-stabilized apartments that make it onto the market are likely to face "nearly the same level of scrutiny as condo or co-op buyers" for the privilege of paying what a recent NYU study identified as an average of $1,245 less per month than market rates. In addition to an income of 40 or 50 times that of the monthly rent, you'll need a credit score of at least 700 to impress landlords, and, unlike their market-rate counterparts, they don't have the option of not renewing a bad tenant's lease. 

"I have people all the time who come to me and ask me to find them a rent-stabilized apartment," said said one broker. "I tell them good luck. It is a needle in a haystack." Another said the situation was especially difficult for anyone looking to find a place within a few weeks, and he wasn't shy about rubbing it in. "If your timing was right and you got here 20 years ago you could be living in a three-bedroom on Park Avenue," he said, before explaining that things that size "rarely turn over" now.