The gist…

StableRenters rates landlords and management companies by scoring every rental property in the city with a combination of property records, housing violations, Open 311 complaints, lawsuits and user comments. Most landlords act responsibly, but the worst like to neglect their tenants and don’t care about getting sued. With a score for every property, renters will know which landlords to trust and which ones let buildings fester with bedbugs, rats, and roaches, heat and hot water problems, serious roof leaks, locked-out tenants and other unhappy and illegal conditions.

WITH MORE THAN 133,000 ADDRESSES, STABLERENTERS TELLS YOU:

  • Who a building’s landlord and management company is,
  • What other properties they own and manage,
  • How many Open 311 Complaints each property has,
  • How a building’s tenants feel about living there, and
  • A building’s full score based on Violations and Lawsuits for a growing number of addresses (when the city releases these datasets, we’ll have them for every property).

StableRenters empowers renters to make assertive decisions when finding a new home, forces slumlords to shape up or lower their rent to match the increased competition, and rewards responsible landlords for the first time with free marketing and a flock of renters eager to do business with an honest professional.

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THE PROBLEM: THE CURRENT SYSTEM IS NOT WORKING! Today’s landlords are not held as accountable as their tenants, and the proof lies in the differing punishments for their delinquency. A tenant who is sued for violating a lease must fix the problem and, in many cases, face eviction. Tenant-screening agencies then sell lists of these names going back 7 years to real estate brokers and landlords nationwide, making it difficult for once-evicted renters to find housing in the future.

While this longstanding mechanism weeds out bad tenants, there is little to shield well-meaning renters from the landlords with government-verified histories of delinquency. Landlords that are sued for violating a lease or housing code must fix the problem and incur a fine. But unlike a tenant’s eviction, a landlord’s fine is a punishment that stops upon payment, with no sting that lingers for 7 years. According to the NYC Citywide Taskforce on Housing Court, these fines are often waved and are rarely levied frequently or drastically enough to deter the repeat behavior of those landlords bent on gaming the system. In the worst cases, landlords know they will lose lawsuits, but also know that few tenants will take days off from work and pay legal fees to bring one, ensuring that the landlord’s gain from every 9 tenants that don’t sue outweighs the loss from the 10th that does. This dynamic has created a financial incentive that encourages landlords to refuse any service that saves them money. Because most tenants in housing court cannot afford attorneys but most landlords bring them along, existing legal avenues that privilege those with professional representation are insufficient for protecting tenants from irresponsible landlords. In short, the system is not working, and it takes a lot of time and hassle.

Government data about landlord behavior is collected and made public by several agencies in New York City, most notably the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Department of Taxation and Finance, and the Department of Buildings. But while much of the this data is accessible to the public through a series of online databases, its availability is rarely advertised and the collective impact on the lives of New Yorkers suffers from a lack of consolidated inter-agency knowledge. As a result, few renters know these resources exist and rarely take advantage of the opportunity to distinguish the good landlords from the bad to use their power as consumers the way they are able in other monetary transactions.

THE SOLUTION: STABLERENTERS Scoring a landlord’s service eliminates the financial incentive encouraging them to refuse necessary services, and brings market forces to the industry in a way never done before. Landlords will have to think twice before using the not uncommon tactic of locking tenants out of their rent-regulated apartments just to raise the rent. This and other infractions will affect their score and future ability to rent at the market price. For too long, landlord quality has been a missing factor in a renter’s choice of a home. StableRenters will simply add it to the slew of other factors that make up a renter’s decision. Housing Court should be a tenant’s last resort. StableRenters should be their first.

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