Who Are the Landlords in NYC?


After an eventful year of policy adjustments, corporate domination remained intact among New York’s premier rental landlords; however, individual buyers saw some success gaining entry in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods of outer-borough neighborhoods.

But what does this mean for renters? New York has several laws outlining landlord responsibilities – here’s everything you should know.

1. Corporate landlords

Currently, landlords in Chicago are facing many difficulties that make it more challenging to meet tenants’ needs and keep buildings up to code. Insurance costs, climate mandates, and rising property taxes exacerbate this issue and make turning renters into profitable income more challenging than ever.

Smaller independent landlords feel the effects of having all their life savings tied into buildings that consume all their income to maintain, according to landlord trade groups. Many are taking drastic measures like postponing repairs and selling off properties to unreliable buyers without regard for tenant safety – potentially jeopardizing New York City’s affordable housing stock.

Large corporate landlords may also come under attack from government agencies cracking down on their practices. A recent report by a Congressional committee revealed four corporate landlords used abusive tactics to evict financially-strapped tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting government action.

Tenants can get an idea of their landlords’ problems through NYC Public Advocate Letitia James’ annual “Worst Landlord List,” released annually by JustFix’s Who Owns What research tool. However, tenants must dig deeper to gain a complete picture. While individual landlords own some properties in New York City, most residential buildings are owned by corporations rather than individual landlords.

2. Mom-and-Pop landlords

Landlords who operate small apartment buildings are known as “mom-and-pop,” accounting for 77% of landlords in NYC. These landlords tend to own smaller, more affordable units that may be vulnerable during economic downturns. Tenant organizing groups and advocacy organizations have campaigned for stronger tenant protections in NYC’s rent laws, such as preventing massive rent increases and no-cause evictions – efforts which were largely successful as now most NYC tenants reside in apartments with these protections.

But while bad landlords may get all of the press, good ones often operate quietly behind the scenes and can find homes that meet their needs and budgets despite New York City’s opaque rental process.

One of the best tools available to New York renters for finding great landlords is Openigloo, a website providing real-time city data such as building information, open violations, bed bug reports, and eviction history – allowing users to quickly locate buildings or landlords that meet their criteria and find suitable residences or landlords based on these details. In addition to making city life more transparent, open igloo saves renters money while connecting them with landlords who care for them; both landlords can utilize this free resource without incurring costs themselves; renters also gain access without incurring costs themselves!

3. Real estate investment trusts (REITs)

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are corporations that own and operate real estate properties such as office or apartment buildings, often for rent. Their profits depend on the rent tenants pay and the properties’ overall value. REITs may be ideal for investors looking for diversification or those without the time or expertise to manage properties.

New York City landlords with multiple apartments to manage are frequently REITs. While mom-and-pop landlords might offer limited transparency into their policies and practices, REITs tend to have a greater reach on New York renters due to larger entities operating more efficiently.

According to JustFix’s Mom-Pop Landlord report, REITs tend to evict tenants more quickly than smaller landlords and apply for Major Capital Improvement rent increases more frequently – which often results in the displacement of long-term residents.

As multifamily property markets stabilize, we may see fewer REITs trade their portfolios in NYC – though that does not preclude large landlords from benefitting.

4. Individual landlords

Individual landlords typically own small portfolios compared to REITs, yet individual landlords still exert significant control over New York City’s housing market, according to research conducted by JustFix. According to this study, just five individual NYC residential landlords who possess buildings located in desirable locations with high tenant ratings and recommendations control more than half of all rental units within New York City.

This study employed open city data to identify building portfolios with average building ratings above 4.1 out of 5 and high proportions of tenants who would recommend their building to friends. Furthermore, violations per unit and evictions in each building were measured, paying particular attention to those involving more than one tenant in any one unit.

As the flu pandemic continues to cause real estate distress throughout New York State, individual property owners have adjusted their investment strategies by selling off multifamily properties for office and retail investments instead. This has allowed corporate investors to purchase smaller residential properties in historically oppressed communities at discounted prices before engaging in mass eviction campaigns against tenants without justification. If passed into law, Good Cause Eviction Protection could help curb the corporatization of housing in NYC.

Owners and tenants have responsibilities toward each other, which city and state agencies enforce. For instance, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s (HPD) ABCs of Housing booklet can assist owners and tenants alike in understanding the rules about their housing unit and how to receive assistance. This book also serves as a good reference tool.