Lately, we've been chronicling the insane, arguably unjustifiable uptick in Bushwick rents pretty closely, but if a new report from Brokelyn is to be believed, there may actually be some reprieve: given the high number of apartments in the area that are rent-stabilized (which about 42 percent of housing in Brooklyn still is), it's possible, maybe even likely, that your landlord may have set your rent price illegally.
In an interview with the site, local housing attorney Sally Robinson explained, "It's a big problem. If you don't know your apartment is rent-stabilized, you won't know that your rent is supposed to be at a certain level, along with a host of other protections you could receive through rent stabilization [...] Landlords know if they sit it out long enough, [old tenants] will get frustrated. They can put new paint job in the apartment and charge $900 more.”
Not that everyone in the neighborhood has been secretly entitled to rent control this entire time—renovations that qualify the apartment for rent above $2,500 wipe out prior rent stabilization, and the statute of limitations for filing a retroactive complaint is short, just four years.
But, on the off-chance that you have been paying the wrong price and can rightfully demand some money back (start looking if you're in an apartment building with more than six units that was built between 1947 and 1974), Robinson recommends contacting New York State Homes and Community Renewal for your building's last registered rent, and if it's significantly lower than what you've been paying, filing a formal complaint. “Because there are so many new people moving into Bushwick, it’s a critical moment to find out if you were rent stabilized," Robinson said. Well, can't hurt to check, right?
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.