Now granted, finding out that your apartment is really supposed to be rent-stabilized is probably a long shot—no need to get anyone’s hopes up unnecessarily here—but looking into it is nothing if not a low-risk, high-reward proposition. As such, DNAinfo ran a helpful guide today on how to find out if you’re illegally being charged market rate for your place, and what to do about it if you are. This is a real possibility: in the past two years, more than 28,000 people have managed to get their rents re-stabilized (and landlords have had to recoup overcharged tenants something in the neighborhood of $220,000).
The gist here is that most buildings with more than six units that were built before 1974 were most likely rent stabilized and one point or another, and if yours falls into this category, it’s worth giving a call to the Division of Housing and Community Renewal to look into the history of your building. Keep an eye out for any years that are missing or major spikes in rent, and if your apartment was illegally de-stabilized, you can contact a tenant organization to help you file an official complaint (Metropolitan Council on Housing and the Cooper Square Committee are good ones), or if you have the money—and this is by far the faster option—take your landlord to court.
It’s also a good idea to consult with other tenants in the building for the sake of strength in numbers (“We’re all in this together,” one organizer told the site). But even if none of this happens to apply to your particular apartment, no time like the present to appreciate the importance of the fight for tenants rights; the Times has new video of the damage inflicted by potential Worst Landlord In Brooklyn Joel Israel—the guy destroying his own apartments so he can kick out longtime tenants and charge New Bushwick prices—and it’s just as brutal as you’d expect.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.