Since the mid 1990s, NYC landlords' primary motivation to evict rent-regulated tenants has been codified in state law. The law, known as "vacancy decontrol," allows landlords to jack up rents at will as soon as they hit a specified threshold. Each vacancy up to that point comes with a 20 percent rent increase—compared to the zero-to-two-percent increases enforced by the Rent Guidelines Board.
A new map from ProPublica, published Thursday, visualizes the consequence of vacancy decontrol, marking buildings in the five boroughs where landlords filed five or more eviction cases between January 2013 and June 2015. The darkest maroon buildings represent 300 or more eviction cases in the two-and-a-half year period. In total, more than 450,000 eviction cases are accounted for.
To accompany the map, ProPublica has also written up an exhaustive history of vacancy decontrol, and its impact on NYC's housing stock. From the outlet:
Back in 1994, hardly any tenants outside Manhattan’s toniest neighborhoods were paying $2,000 a month or more. The median rent across the city was under $600. Since then, of the 860,000 apartments that were stabilized, almost 250,000 have become free-market units, diminishing New York City’s largest source of affordable housing. Most of the decrease came from vacancy decontrol.
For (troubling) context, the rate of deregulation has already outpaced the housing preservation goal outlined in Mayor de Blasio's controversial affordable housing plan. By 2020, de Blasio as pledged to preserve 120,000 apartments.
Let this sink in. Then use the map! For each building featured, ProPublica indicates whether it is likely regulated—information your landlord might not be inclined to provide. Armed with this, you can begin the process of determining whether you're being overcharged. The map also links to the Rentlogic rating for said building. Created this year, the website compiles complaint and violation data from various city agencies, and lists letter grades for buildings, owners and management companies.