In the ongoing apartment hunting struggle that anyone who lives here inevitable has to engage in, there are a couple golden phrases that tenants are always on the lookout for. “Laundry in unit” is one such dream. Another? “Rent controlled” or “rent stabilized,” both indications that the rent on the unit is regulated by the state, and limits how much a landlord can wantonly jack up the rent. Rent control happens if a tenant has been living continuously in an apartment since 1971: It’s the kind of thing that you inherit from a direct family member, and so it’s harder to luck into. Rent stabilization, however, is within your grasp: It applies, with some exceptions, to buildings built before 1974 with six or more units.
There are one million rent stabilized apartments in New York City, ones in which the rent increase is determined every year by the Rent Guidelines Board. (This year, that increase is just one percent for one year leases.) But how do you know if your apartment qualifies? Now there’s an easy way to find out.
Chris Henrick, a student at Parson’s MFA Design and Technology, created a site called amirentstabilized.com, allowing users to search for their address in a database. It can’t tell you about your specific unit, but it can identify whether there are rent stabilized units in the building, which is a pretty good indication. You enter your address, and, if your building pops up as possibly stabilized, there are instructions on how to contact state agencies to get the rent history of the unit. If you’ve been overpaying for the place, your landlord may owe you back rent. And that would be super sweet.