The media often portrays owners of rent-stabilized properties in the Big Apple as large, greedy corporate interests, speculators, frequent flippers, or absentee owners. But these characteristics are way off base, according to a recent study by the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), a New York-based advocacy trade association.
“When you hear policy discussion, assumptions are set forth about who owners are, and they are just completely untrue,” says Patrick Siconolfi, executive director of CHIP. “We wanted to see what a rigorous scientific study would show, and it shatters the stereotypes of rent-stabilized property owners.”
DEPEND ON RENT REVENUES FOR 75% OR MORE OF THEIR INCOME
LIVE IN THEIR OWN BUILDINGS OR NEARBY
HAVE OWNED THEIR PROPERTIES FOR 20 YEARS OR MORE
OWN PROPERTIES AS INDIVIDUALS OR AS PART OF A FAMILY BUSINESS
MANAGE THEIR OWN PROPERTIES
ARE NEW IMMIGRANTS OR CHILDREN OF IMMIGRANTS
Source: Community Housing Improvement Program
Key findings of the study include: Nearly half of the property owners are either new immigrants or children of immigrants; roughly 70 percent have owned their properties for at least 20 years; more than half either live in their own buildings or nearby; slightly more than 90 percent manage their own properties; and almost 24 percent depend on rent revenues for 75 percent or more of their income.
“One of the charges the press frequently levels at owners of stabilized properties is that they are flippers of properties—they buy and sell to take advantage of market conditions,” Siconolfi says. “This study shows the exact opposite. Owners are not only committed to buildings because they are looking at them as long-term assets, but they are committed to their neighborhoods as well.”
The study, conducted by the New York-based economics consultant Urbanomics, is the first of its kind in more than 25 years. The data is based on a sampling of 50,000 rent-stabilized building owners throughout the five boroughs. Rent-stabilization applies to buildings of six or more units built between February 1, 1947, and January 1, 1974, according to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board. Residents in buildings of six or more units built before February 1, 1947, and who moved in after June 30, 1971, are also covered by rent stabilization.