Examining the Myth of the “Mom-and-Pop” Landlord
An analysis of NYC building ownership by JustFix.nyc
In 2019, New York State’s tenant organizing groups and tenant advocates fought to establish stronger tenant protections within New York’s rent laws, and they were largely successful. Opponents to these policy changes, however, tried to cast small landlords—commonly known as “mom-and-pop” landlords—as inconsequential victims of these tenant-centered laws. New legislation designed to shield tenants from displacement and prevent further housing deregulation would also hurt the businesses of these smaller operators, the Real Estate Board of New York claimed.
“While ‘mom-and-pop’ landlords do exist, they do not represent the typical owners of registered properties in NYC.”
In response to these narratives, JustFix.nyc decided to take a look at building ownership distribution in New York City. Through our Who Owns What tool, which maps property ownership using public HPD Registration data, we were able to estimate landlord portfolio sizes across the city based on common ownership patterns seen in the data. Our analysis looked at the size of landlords who owned rent-regulated housing stock and evicted tenants at a higher rate.
“Larger landlords were more often the owners of rent-regulated buildings and are more often responsible for evictions and MCI increases.”
Here are some of our key insights:
The typical rent-paying New Yorker has a large landlord
An average HPD-registered apartment belonged to a 21 property, 893 unit portfolio, according to public HPD data. Landlords owning more than 20 buildings were associated with more than half of these apartments citywide.