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Agency says 50,000 NYC apartments returned to rent control

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NEW YORK -- The City is focused on affordable housing. But keeping that housing affordable can be hard.

Since 2012, the State has reclaimed more than 50,000 rent regulated apartments where New York City landlords were overcharging their tenants.

Jeffrey Goodman and Gregg Bromberg, know they live in a rent stabilized apartment. But for years now they've been fighting in court with their landlord, Two Trees Management, after their rent jumped out of control.

"How can an apartment go from 3,900 to 6,800 in a rent stabilized 421-a apartment?" asked Goodman.

The courts will eventually decide whether or not Two Trees violated the rent stabilization laws, but according to the State thousands of renters are being overcharged because they aren't even aware their apartments are supposed to be rent stabilized.

"We all think that the rent is a little high or a little too much, but here these are tenants who didn't realize they were paying too much in rent," said Deputy Commissioner of the Tenant Protection Unit Richard White.

Over the past four years White and the TPU have identified those 50,000 apartments where tenants were being overcharged.

"Every rent regulated tenant is, by law ,required at the time of their renewal to receive a rent stabilized lease," said White.

Councilman Stephen Levin says getting back those units is key to helping end the New York City's housing crisis.

"You can't build your way out of the affordable housing crisis. It's impossible. You have to, have to, maintain the affordable housing that you have and you have to recapture the affordable housing that you lost if you lost it illegally."

Many of the apartments are rent stabilized because developers received 421-a tax credits to build. Which is why Levin says rent stabilization needs even more enforcement.

"To grant a tax break, I think entitles the City or the relevant state agency to have a level of oversight that is more than just allowing an owner to self certify," he said.

If you think you might be living in a rent-stabilized apartment and are getting overcharged you can find out at the Office of Rent Administration. You can also call the NY State Home and Community Renewal Office at 718-739-6400.

If you're right, you could be entitled to a refund plus interest.