ProPublica and the Brooklyn Public Library are hosting a community forum on October 20 to empower New Yorkers who are potentially being charged too much for rent. Entitled “How to Fight Back if Your Rent is Illegally High,” the event will inform tenants about the ways in which many landlords are bypassing New York’s rent regulations. Through lifting up the stories of real New Yorkers who learned their legal rights and successfully pushed back, attendees will learn the steps they too can take.

While many New Yorkers chalk up high rent and steep rent hikes as unavoidable facts of living in the city, a recent ProPublica investigation found that tens of thousands of New Yorkers are unknowingly living in rent-stabilized apartments. These tenants are entitled to legal limits on their annual rent increases. If their rent has been raised past the legal limit, they can potentially get big refunds. But some landlords are betting that tenants lack the knowledge and resources to file a complaint or a lawsuit – and so they flagrantly break the rules on rent-stabilization.

The forum will feature tenants, as well as community advocates that represent them, who fought back against New York City’s broken rent system:

  • Lilian Piedra of Washington Heights pushed back against a big rent hike after learning her rights and had her rent lowered back to its original level.
  • Lane Altschuler, a renter from the Upper West Side, successfully sued his landlord for nearly $1 million, after learning that he was overpaying for his rent-stabilized apartment.
  • Lyric Thompson of Bushwick discovered that her landlord had misinformed her about the status of her rent-stabilized building. She and her neighbors have filed complaints in housing court.
  • Harvey Epstein is the director of the Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project, and a tenant representative on the NYC Rent Guidelines Board.
  • Aaron Carr is the founder of Housing Rights Initiative, a nonprofit organization that proactively investigates rent fraud in rent-stabilized buildings and connects tenants to legal support.

Though this conversation moderated by ProPublica reporter Cezary Podkul, attendees can find out if they are being unlawfully charged too much, ways to learn their apartment’s rent history, when to file a complaint, pro bono legal resources they can tap, how to organize tenants in their building, and other practical action steps.

This event is free. RSVP here!

WHAT: ProPublica Live: How to Fight Back if Your Rent is Illegally High

WHEN: Thursday, October 20 at 7:30 (Refreshments will be provided.)

WHERE: Brooklyn Public Library, Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11238 (Stevan Dweck Auditorium)

For more information, contact Cynthia Gordy at cynthia.gordy@propublica.org.