Testimony of Senator Hoylman to the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal on Frankensteining Apartments

I am State Senator Brad Hoylman, and I represent State Senate District 27, which represents much of the heart, East and West Side of Manhattan. Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony regarding DHCR’s proposed amendments to the Rent Stabilization Code. Many of my constituents are tenants living in rent-regulated apartments, and many others are in desperate need of stable and affordable housing. I strongly support the proposed amendment which would address the pervasive issue of apartment warehousing and so-called “frankensteining” and I urge DHCR to adopt this amendment.  

I was proud to work with my colleagues in the legislature to pass the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA) in 2019. This was a historic reform to New York’s housing law, and included making the rent regulation system permanent, ending high rent vacancy decontrol and high-income deregulation, and limiting vacancy bonuses and rent increases through individual apartment improvements.  

Since 2019, however, I have heard from constituents of my district about widespread warehousing of rent regulated apartments, often with the suspected purpose of “frankensteining” apartments. “Frankensteining” involves combining two rent-regulated apartments, or a rent-regulated and unregulated apartment, allowing these apartments to be taken out of rent regulation and for a new rent to be set. This is a flagrant violation of the goals of the HSPTA, which aimed to protect our remaining rent-regulated apartments and preserve them as affordable housing for New Yorkers. I applaud DHCR’s proposed regulations that would ensure that combined apartments stay rent-regulated and limit the rents set on new apartments.   

Up to 60,000 rent-regulated apartments are vacant. This is immoral in the middle of an affordable housing shortage and homelessness crisis. This proposed amendment would take away one of the financial incentives for warehousing apartments, and I encourage its adoption. Thank you for your consideration of my testimony.