Rental Vacancy Study

 The City of Rochester is leading a study on the vacancy rates in rental properties that are eligible for rent stabilization under New York State’s Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA), if the City decides to opt-in under the ETPA.

The results of this study will determine whether Rochester qualifies to opt-in to rent stabilization under the ETPA. Highland Planning and Mullin & Lonergan Associates are conducting the study on behalf of the City.

The intent of this study is to accurately capture the vacancy rate of ETPA-eligible rental housing in Rochester to help the City make an informed decision about the ETPA.


The study includes a survey that was mailed to property managers of ETPA-eligible properties the week of April 19, 2021. If the City did not have property manager contact information on file for an eligible property, the survey was mailed to the property owner. Property managers or owners that manage or own multiple eligible properties received an individual survey for each property.

The survey could be completed in paper form (and mailed back with a pre-paid envelope) or it could be completed online. The web address for the online version of survey was included in the mailing with the paper survey, so respondents could choose how they would like submit information. Survey responses were due by May 11, 2021.

Follow-up outreach is being conducted as needed to collect and verify survey responses.

The consultants will analyze responses to determine a final net vacancy rate. The net vacancy rate is determined by taking the total gross vacancy rate across all responses, and subtracting out the units that survey responses indicated are uninhabitable and/or unavailable for rent. The net vacancy rate is composed of all units that are vacant, habitable, and available for rent at the time of the survey.


In June 2019, New York State enacted the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, which expanded the ability to opt-in to rent stabilization under the ETPA to all municipalities throughout the state.

Previously, the only municipalities outside of New York City that were able to opt-in were those located in Nassau, Rockland, and Westchester counties. In order to opt-in to rent stabilization, municipalities must declare a housing emergency, which is defined in the ETPA as a rental vacancy rate of less than five percent in the housing stock that will be regulated.

The first step in determining if Rochester has a level of vacancy under the ETPA that would allow implementation of rent stabilization is completing a rental vacancy study. Under the law, it is the responsibility of municipalities to fund a study of their housing accommodations to determine the existence of an emergency under the ETPA.


Where can I get more information about the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA)?
This fact sheet from the New York State Department of Homes and Community Renewal provides an overview of the ETPA, as well as a list of frequently asked questions. The full text of the ETPA can be found here.

What types of properties are eligible for rent stabilization under the ETPA?
In general, eligible properties are buildings that were built and had six (6) or more residential units prior to January 1, 1974. However, there are some buildings that meet these criteria that were not included in this study because they are not eligible under the ETPA, such as buildings owned or operated by Rochester Housing Authority (RHA) or where rentals are fixed by or subject to the supervision of the New York State Department of Homes and Community Renewal. Housing accommodations subject to regulation under the ETPA are included in Section 5 of the ETPA, but please note that the majority of that section is a list of housing accommodations that are exempt from regulation.

What does it mean if my survey says “Garden Style”?
Some of the properties eligible for rent stabilization are considered garden style apartments, or as written in the ETPA, a “multiple family garden-type maisonette dwelling complex.” For those properties, all buildings built before 1974 qualify for rent stabilization, not just those with six or more units. Therefore, if you received a survey that says garden style, you should respond for all buildings built before January 1, 1974, as stated in the survey.

What if the independent data provided in the letter with my survey doesn’t reflect the current status of the units on my property?
The survey should be completed whether or not the independent data reflects the current status of units on your property. Please complete the survey so that the City has accurate, up-to-date information about the status of the units on your property.


For general questions about the City’s Rental Vacancy Study, please contact:

Elizabeth Murphy, Associate Planner/Administrative Analyst

For specific questions about completing the rental vacancy survey, or if you mistakenly received a survey for a property that you do not manage or own, please contact:

Sue Charland, Highland Planning