This afternoon I was out and about in the city helping Superfly. On my way over to meet her, I was driven by a garrulous taxi driver named Francesco. Frank was like a Hollywood version of what most people think a New York City cabbie should be like (well, the non-Travis Bickle kind, anyway). He's in his late 60s, was born in Italy and speaks with a combination Italian/New York accent. He curses freely and offers advice unsolicited.
As we were driving around, he told me how he gave up his rent controlled apartment on Carmine and Bedford about 20 years ago and had regretted it ever since. His rent then was $32/month. The friend to whom he ceded the apartment now pays $225. This is true rent control, not rent stabilization, which is much different and provides for reasonable increases every year. I confirmed this with him and he was, unsurprisingly, very knowledgeable about the difference between the two programs. As recompense for this incredible gift, his friend buys him dinner once a month. That's one hell of a deal.
Frank's next story, however, is so classic New York that I have been thinking about it and savoring its absurdity all day. Another friend of his had a rent controlled apartment on Sullivan, just south of Houston. She had inherited it from her mother. When she died, she passed it on to her son. The son got a 5 room apartment in SoHo for $165/month.
Now here's the best part: The son then took the landlord to court because there had been a miscalculation somewhere along the way and his correct rent was actually $145. And he won!
Total annual savings - $240.
Having testicles the size of Central Park - priceless.