Since I get asked the same questions over and over, I thought I’d finally put together a little summary of the most FAQs and tell you about me, my family, our history with our apartment, and what it means to have rent stabilization.
Q: How long have you lived there?
A: My family moved into this apartment in 2002. Before that, we had been living in a much smaller, more expensive 1 bedroom apartment also on the Upper West Side. A good friend of my dad’s and his wife were moving out of the city and asked my parents if they’d like to move into his rent stabilized two bedroom apartment. It was an absolute no brainer for my parents, so he put them in touch with the landlord and we moved in.
Q: What does it mean to have rent control/stabilization?
A: Rent regulation, in the form of rent control or stabilization is a program in NYC that protects tenants from rental increases. Rent stabilization means your lease can only go up a certain percentage (it used to be 2.5% but I think it’s gone up to 3.2% now) per renewal. Rent control means your lease cannot increase in price at all. The only way to obtain a rent controlled apartment is if you’re already in one, or through a family member (you must have been living in the apartment for 2 years to qualify). Rent stabilization is far more common and available to anyone, but they can be hard to find because once you get a rent stabilized apartment, you do not let it go. More info on this topic here. Unfortunately, these programs do not help the people that they should; they are not intended for low-income families, in fact, there is no income cap for living in one of these apartments. While I acknowledge the immense privilege of living where I do and benefitting from this system, I also acknowledge that it needs some serious revision.
Q: Is this your forever home?
A: Yes! I’m definitely never going to find a better deal in NYC so I’m always going to keep the lease in my name. I would love it if my children wanted to take over after me, but who knows what they’ll want to do and that’s very far down the road. I dream buying a historical fixer upper house upstate for the weekends but can’t fathom not living in the city for the majority of the time!
Q: What happens if your landlord sells the building or wants their apartment back?
A: It’s noteworthy that my landlord is not single person, but a company who owns multiple buildings in the city. They d not want nor care about my individual apartment! I’m not entirely sure about selling the building but this is something I have never thought or worried about. Families have lived in my building for generations. I’m pretty sure the new owner would just take over and all rent stabilized tenants would have to stay. If they wanted everyone out I’m 99% sure they would have to buy everyone out which is a huge expense.
Q: If you had the opportunity, would you ever want to buy your apartment?
A: Not a chance! It would cost nearly $2M, which is not in budget in the foreseeable future. My monthly mortgage + property taxes + building maintenance fees would be significantly more expensive than my rent is. If I did not have rent stabilization, I might consider purchasing in Manhattan, but thankfully I do so that’s not something I’m interested in.
Q: How much is your rent now and what was the cost when your family moved in?
I currently pay around $1400. My parents don’t remember what they first paid but let’s say it’s increased 2% every lease renewal (every 2 years) for the past 21 years. I’m no mathematician but you’re welcome to figure it out and let me know, I’m curious as well.
Q: How big is your apartment?
A: It’s a 2 bedroom/1 bath, about 1300 sq ft.
Q: Is your landlord okay with all of your renovations/how does that work?
A: First and foremost, I don’t consider anything I’ve done to be a renovation but more of a restoration. I’m really just putting the apartment back as it was intended to be, and I’m actually undoing renovations of previous tenants. Next, because tenants in my building tend to stay a very long time, respectfully, I don’t think building management cares what people do inside of their apartments, as long as it’s safe and reasonable of course. That being said, if I ever wanted to do an actual renovation (which I intend to do with my kitchen next year) I would get in touch with my landlord to let him know. Typically, he allows tenants to do as they wish on the condition they cover costs of supplies and use the building’s super-intendant, plumber etc. for the labor. If the project you’re doing is a significant upgrade, he may even knock off a month’s rent (he did this for my family a few years back). In short, yes, he is okay with renovations and I feel very lucky to have an awesome landlord!
Q: What do your parents think of the apartment now?
A: I think they’re a little amazed 🙂 They LOVE it and are so proud of me!
Q: Do you have pictures of the apartment from childhood?
A: Not many unfortunately. No one could have predicted that one day my job would largely revolve around my apartment so we don’t have any good interior shots without people in them. I’ll share a few I have below- on the right is the “before”, left is the SAME angle now!