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Frequently Asked Questions

Rent Stabilization and Rent Control

Overcharges and Leases

High-Rent Vacancy Deregulation & High-Rent High-Income Deregulation

Services and Harassment

Major Capital and Individual Apartment Improvements

Evictions

Rights of Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons


Rent Stabilization and Rent Control

What is the difference between Rent Control and Rent Stabilization?

In New York City, Rent Control tenants are generally in buildings built before February 1, 1947, where the tenant is in continuous occupancy prior to July 1, 1971. Tenants who took occupancy after June 30, 1971, in buildings of six or more units built before January 1, 1974, are generally Rent Stabilized. See Fact Sheet #1.

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If a tenant is renting an apartment in a building that is a co-op, is he or she rent regulated?

In New York City, a rent regulated tenant in occupancy before the conversion to cooperative ownership under a non-eviction plan remains regulated as long as he or she continues in occupancy as a non-purchasing tenant.

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How do I know if my apartment is Rent Regulated?

In NYC, a Rent Regulated apartment may be Rent Controlled or Rent Stabilized. Generally, an apartment occupied by a tenant continuously prior to July 1, 1971 in a building built before February 1, 1947 would come under Rent Control.

A Rent Stabilized apartment would generally be located in a building constructed prior to January 1, 1974 having 6 or more housing units. See Fact Sheet #1.

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Is the owner of rent stabilized apartments required to register the rents?

Yes, the owner must register rents of rent stabilized units with DHCR on an annual basis on the Annual Apartment Registration (form RR-2A) and the Annual Registration Summary (form RR-2S) DHCR forms. A copy of the Annual Apartment Registration (form RR-2A) is required to be served on the tenant.

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Are there any requirements for gaining access to registered rental information?

Yes, (See form FOIL-1) proof of identity and/or authorization for Rent Registration needs to be given to the Division of Housing and Community Renewal when access to registered rental information is requested. The proof of identification is as follows:

Owners must submit proof of ownership (copy of deed or contract of sale and/or a tax bill).

Prospective buyers must submit (a) proof of ownership as above, (b) a detailed letter from the owner identifying prospective buyer and authorizing the review of requested records.

Tenants must submit proof of identity and proof of occupancy: (a) For Rent Stabilized Apartment(s)- copy of lease, rent receipt or bill. (b) For Rent Controlled Apartment(s)- copy of utility bill, rent receipt or rent bill.

Representatives must submit (a) authorization from parties represented; or (b) Power of attorney; and (c) additional verification as requested above.

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Overcharges and Leases

How much of an increase in rent will I have to pay in NYC when my lease is renewed?

The owner may charge a rent increase based on guidelines promulgated by the applicable Rent Guidelines Board. For more information, see Fact Sheet #26 and/or the NYC Rent Guidelines Board's website for the current guideline information.

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What are the legally permissible methods for increasing the rent of a rent regulated apartment?

A tenant has, without justification, refused to sign a renewal lease. What recourse does the owner have?

Failure of a tenant to sign and return a proper renewal lease can be grounds for eviction. The owner can request that DHCR mediate the issue. Mediation is used to resolve the problem without the owner having to go to court. Owner's Request for Mediation forms are available at local rent offices.

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Can a tenant be evicted if the owner of the building fails to give him or her a renewal lease?

If the building owner fails to offer a renewal lease to the tenant, the tenant shall not be deprived of his or her rights under the regulations. The owner shall be barred from commencing any action or proceeding against the tenant based upon the lack of a required renewal lease. See Fact Sheet #4.

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Do I have a right to renew my lease?

Tenants in rent stabilized apartments have a right to select a one or two year renewal lease term. Generally, the renewal lease must keep the same terms and conditions as the expiring lease. See Fact Sheet #4.

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Under rent stabilization in NYC, when must the renewal lease be offered?

The owner must give written notice of renewal by mail or personal delivery not more than 150 days and not less than 90 days before the existing lease expires. A failure of the tenant to respond within 60 days of the offering may lead to eviction proceedings. See Fact Sheet #4.

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What if my owner does not offer me a renewal lease?

A tenant should first contact the owner to obtain a lease. If the owner fails to provide a renewal lease, the tenant has a right to file a complaint with DHCR on form RA90, Tenant's Complaint Of Owner's Failure To Renew Lease And/Or Failure To Furnish A Copy of A Signed Lease. See Fact Sheet #4.

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Under what circumstances can a late fee and/or legal fees be charged?

There must be clauses in the original lease that authorize the collection of these fees. If these clauses are not included in the original lease, they cannot be charged.

The amount of the late fee must be reasonable. DHCR has generally considered a late fee to be reasonable if it is five percent (5%) of the monthly rent.

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Does an owner have a right to collect a security deposit?

Yes, at the initial renting of the apartment to the tenant, the owner may collect a security deposit. The amount of a security deposit for rent regulated apartments can be no more than one month's rent. The security deposit must be kept by the owner in an interest bearing account in a NYS bank. See Fact Sheet #9.

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Are family members protected from eviction when the tenant dies or permanently leaves the apartment? What is the definition of "family member"?

Generally, succession rights are afforded to family members who have resided as a primary resident in the apartment for at least two years (one year for family members who are senior citizens or disabled) prior to the death of, or the permanent vacating of, the apartment by the tenant.

A "family member" is defined as a spouse, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, father, mother, stepfather, stepmother, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, grandson, granddaughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law or daughter-in-law of the tenant.

The definition of a family member also includes any other person residing with the tenant in the housing accommodation as a primary resident, who can prove emotional and financial commitment and interdependence between such person and the tenant. See Fact Sheet #30.

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My building owners did not offer me a timely lease renewal, as they thought that I no longer used the apartment as my primary residence. They did not prove this in court and now they have to offer me a renewal lease. When does it commence and what are my rights?

Renewal leases are required to be offered between 90 and 150 days prior to the expiration of a lease.

In this situation, the owners would offer a renewal lease less than 90 days prior to the expiration of the existing lease. Therefore, the tenant has the option of requesting that the lease be dated to start on (1) the date a renewal lease would have begun had a timely offer been made or (2) on the first rent payment date occurring at least 90 days after the date that the owner does offer the lease to the tenant.

The guideline increase to be charged can never be more than the rate in effect on the date in option (1). Whether the tenant chooses option (1) or (2), the new rent shall not go into effect before the first rent payment date occurring at least 90 days after the offer is made.

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Is a building owner required to provide a tenant with an itemized bill?

Owners are not required to provide rent stabilized tenants with itemized rent bills.

Owners are required to provide rent controlled tenants with a bill that itemizes the fuel cost adjustment separate from the rent.

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May an owner collect a rent increase from a new/vacancy lease tenant when a DHCR rent reduction order for decrease in services is still in effect?

If the rent reduction order was issued to a rent stabilized tenant, the owner cannot collect a vacancy rent increase from the new tenant, but can list the increase in the new lease. The rent will remain frozen until DHCR issues a rent restoration order.

If the rent reduction order was issued to a rent controlled tenant, a fair market rent set for the incoming rent stabilized tenant can be charged, but no other rent increases can be collected until DHCR issues a rent restoration order.

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Are tenants required to pay NYC Sales Tax to the owner on a garage/parking space that is subject to Rent Stabilization?

The NYC Sales Tax can be collected if the tax was actually imposed on the owner for the garage/parking space and the garage/parking space was provided to the tenant in a charge separate from the apartment rent. It can never be calculated on the apartment rent.

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Are the spouses in lawfully performed same sex marriages, entitled to the same rent protections applicable to spouses in lawfully performed opposite sex marriages?

Yes. This will broaden the scope of both how succession rights can apply and the right to include the name of a spouse on the lease.

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Can a tenant in a rent regulated apartment take in a roommate and is there a limit on the rent that the roommate can be charged?

When only one tenant is named on a lease, the tenant has the right to take in a roommate and the roommate's dependent children. When two or more tenants are named on the lease, the number of tenants and roommates cannot exceed the number of tenants named in the lease. In all situations, occupancy may be restricted in order to comply with municipal regulations concerning overcrowding.

In a rent stabilized apartment, the rent collected from the roommate cannot exceed their proportionate share of the apartment. For example, one tenant named on a lease can take in one roommate and the roommate can be charged no more than half of the legal rent. The roommate can be advised to file a complaint of rent overcharge with DHCR if they were charged in excess of that proportionate share.

With regard to a rent controlled apartment, a roommate may not be charged an amount of rent that is in excess of the legal rent for the apartment. Any determination of a rent overcharge is under the jurisdiction of the civil court.

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How is the legal rent adjusted when an MCI order is issued after a renewal lease had been executed?

If the effective date of the MCI order is before September 30 (the date used for calculating guideline adjustments), the renewal lease increase may be recalculated based on the higher legal rent, which now includes the entire dollar amount of the MCI rent increase. This will result in a larger renewal lease increase. The affected lease(s) does not have to be reissued, but the owner must give the tenant a statement showing the rental recalculation.

If the effective date of the MCI increase is after September 30, the increase in the legal rent will not be compounded by the guideline adjustment(s) until the next lease renewal.

The actual rent paid by the tenant is subject to an annual MCI rent increase cap (6% in NYC; 15% outside of NYC).

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The owner of a Rent Controlled apartment failed to charge the washing machine appliance surcharge within a reasonable time after becoming aware of the installation. Did the owner waive the right to collect the surcharge?

No. However, the owner must seek the approval of DHCR by filing Form RN-79b. Once DHCR issues an order of approval, the surcharge is collectible prospectively only and not retroactive to the time of installation.

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Does a tenant in a rent stabilized apartment have the right to add their spouse's name to the lease?

Yes. The tenant has the right, upon request to the owner, to have the name of his or her spouse added to the lease as an additional tenant, if the spouse resides in the apartment as a primary residence. There is no rent increase associated with this change, other than the approved renewal lease increase rates in effect at the time of renewal.

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High-Rent Vacancy Decontrol & High-Rent High-Income Decontrol

An apartment subject to Rent Control is vacated. The owner calculates a legal rent above $2,500 for the incoming tenant and is considering charging the tenant a preferential rent of less than $2,500. (a) Can the owner charge a preferential rent? (b) Is the apartment deregulated?

(a) No. There cannot be a "preferential rent" during the term of the initial rent stabilized lease. If a rent of less than $2,500 is actually paid by the tenant, this rent amount becomes the legal rent, even if a rent of $2,500 or more is cited in the lease.

(b) The apartment is deregulated only if the rent that is at or above $2,500 was lawfully calculated and is paid by the tenant. The tenant can challenge it with DHCR.

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Services and Harassment

If a tenant received a service reduction order, how can he or she calculate the reduced rent for a rent stabilized apartment?

On the effective date specified in the Order, the legal regulated rent is reduced to the level in effect prior to the most recent guidelines increase. For example, if the most recent guideline increase was 2% for a one year lease and the legal regulated rent was $510.00 per month under a one year renewal lease beginning on October 1, 1998, a rent reduction ordered on December 1, 1998 would reduce the rent to $500 per month. See Fact Sheet #14.

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What can an owner do to obtain necessary access to make necessary repairs and avoid rent decreases or restore a rent reduction?

The owner needs to submit two copies of letters to the tenant attempting to arrange for access. Each letter must be mailed at least eight days prior to the proposed access date, and must be mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested. RSC 2523.4 (d) (2).

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What services are owners required to provide?

An owner must provide and maintain all services and equipment furnished or required by Rent Control or Rent Stabilization regulations which include repairs, heat and hot water, maintenance, painting and janitorial services. This may include services that were provided but not registered by the owner on the Initial Apartment Registration, form RR-1(i) or, the Initial Building Services Registration, form RR-3 (i). See Fact Sheet #3.

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What recourse does a tenant have when an owner is not maintaining services?

If services are not being maintained the tenant must first inform the owner in writing. If services are not restored, the tenant may file an Application For A Rent Reduction Based Upon Decreased Service(s) - Individual Apartment (form RA-81) with DHCR based on a decrease of services. See Fact Sheet #14.

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What can a tenant do when an owner does not comply with a DHCR service reduction order?

If an owner has failed to restore services and/or correct the conditions specified within 30 days after the issuance date of the order, the tenant may file a Tenant Affirmation of Non-Compliance (form RA-22.1), to request that a compliance proceeding be initiated.

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How are tenants protected from harassment by owners?

Harassment by an owner is a course of action intended to force a tenant out of his/her apartment or to cause a tenant to give up rights granted to the tenant by the Rent Laws.

No owner or anyone acting on behalf of the owner or as the owner's agent may interfere with a tenant's privacy, comfort or quiet enjoyment of the tenant's apartment. Interference includes reducing services or engaging in baseless court proceedings.

Harassment is a serious violation of a tenant's rights. If a tenant believes they are a victim of harassment, they can file a Tenant's Statement of Complaint(s)-Harassment (form RA-60H),with DHCR. Upon a DHCR finding of harassment, a civil penalty may be imposed on the owner. See Fact Sheet #17.

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The noise and cigarette smoke from the tenant in the apartment next to me is a constant disturbance. What are my rights?

Tenants can contact the owner and ask for assistance, as most standard leases give tenants the right to the "peaceful possession" of the apartment.

Tenants can also contact a local mediation center in order to pursue a mediated resolution with the neighboring tenant.

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An owner wants to renovate a building and asks the tenant to temporarily relocate. The renovations are not compelled by an emergency situation. Must the tenant relocate?

The tenant does not have to relocate, unless so ordered by DHCR, another government agency or a court.

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How does a tenant reduce the rent for an order finding a decrease in services, when a preferential rent has been paid by the tenant?

If the tenant's current and prior lease contained a legal rent and also provided for the payment of a preferential rent, the rent is reduced to the prior lease's preferential rent.

If the tenant's current lease only contains a legal rent, even if the prior lease provided for a preferential rent, the rent is reduced to the prior lease's legal rent.

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Many rent-regulated tenants, who do not have cable television service, receive TV broadcasting through an analog Building Master Television Antenna. Federal law now requires a transition from analog to digital television broadcasting. How does this affect the service of Master Television Antenna, where said antenna is a required service?

The owner needs to find a technological alternative or upgrade, such as a new, updated master antenna, that enables tenants to continue to have television service. Tenants are responsible to purchase, at their expense, analog-to-digital converter boxes for their televisions. For more information on the analog-to-digital switch, log on http://www.fcc.gov/digital-television. See

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Major Capital and Individual Apartment Improvements

What is the basis of Major Capital Improvement (MCI) rent increases?

Major Capital Improvement (MCI) increases are allowed by law and regulation and have been upheld by the courts. The legislature has directed that the increases continue to be a part of the rent to provide an incentive for owners to improve New York State's housing stock. For more information about MCIs see Fact Sheet #24.

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What are the differences between an Individual Apartment Improvement (IAI) increase and a Major Capital Improvement (MCI) increase?

An owner may increase the rent for an improvement to an individual apartment (e.g. new stove, refrigerator, etc.) without approval from DHCR. However, the owner must have the written consent of the tenant in occupancy to collect the rent increase, and for a rent-controlled apartment, the owner must send a written notice of the rent increase to DHCR on form RN-79b, Owner's Notice Of A Rent Increase Based On Increased Services /New Furnishings /Equipment / Painting; And Tenant's Statement Of Consent. For improvements made while an apartment is vacant, the written consent of the new tenant is not required.

An owner must file an Owner's Application For Rent Increase Based On Major Capital Improvements (MCI) (form RA-79) with DHCR to increase the rent for a Major Capital Improvement which benefits the entire building. The consent of the tenants is not required. The owner, however, must first receive approval from DHCR prior to collecting this increase. The rent increase will be apportioned among the tenants on a per room per month basis. See Fact Sheet #24 & Fact Sheet #12.

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Where a tenant must vacate a rent-regulated apartment because of a fire or vacate order issued by a government agency, is the owner entitled to a rent increase where the apartment has been restored and the subject tenant moves back in?

Not where the owner simply restores the apartment to its previous condition. This is true even where the owner has not been fully reimbursed by insurance proceeds. However, where the owner installs new equipment not previously provided in the apartment, such owner can charge an IAI rent increase, but only if the tenant moving back in provides the owner with her written consent to the rent increase. If written consent is not provided, then the rent cannot be increased.

Where the tenant decides not to move back into the apartment, and a new tenant is going to move in, then the owner would be entitled to add the IAI rent increase for any new piece of equipment not previously provided where such prior tenant did not provide written consent. However, this rent increase would only apply to new equipment not previously provided in the apartment, not the cost of restoring the apartment to its previous condition.

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How is the legal rent adjusted when an MCI order is issued after a renewal lease had been executed?

If the effective date of the MCI order is before September 30 (the date used for calculating guideline adjustments), the renewal lease increase may be recalculated based on the higher legal rent, which now includes the entire dollar amount of the MCI rent increase. This will result in a larger renewal lease increase. The affected lease(s) does not have to be reissued, but the owner must give the tenant a statement showing the rental recalculation.

If the effective date of the MCI increase is after September 30, the increase in the legal rent will not be compounded by the guideline adjustment(s) until the next lease renewal.

The actual rent paid by the tenant is subject to an annual MCI rent increase cap (6% in NYC; 15% outside of NYC).

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Evictions

Must the owner apply to DHCR to evict a rent regulated tenant before proceeding to court?

Where a tenant fails to pay rent, is causing a nuisance, damaging the apartment or building, or committing other wrongful acts, the owner may proceed directly to court after the service of the proper notices. Some special grounds, such as the owner seeking to demolish the building, do require that the owner first receive approval from DHCR. To obtain DHCR approval the owner should file form RA-54, Owner's Application for Order Granting Approval To Refuse Renewal Of Lease And/ Or To Proceed For Eviction.

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May an owner evict a tenant from a rent regulated apartment for owner occupancy?

Yes, however the owner must apply for a certificate of eviction from DHCR on the Owner's Application For Order Granting Approval To Refuse Renewal Of Lease And/ Or To Proceed For Eviction (form RA-54) prior to proceeding to court to evict a rent controlled tenant. If the owner requires an apartment occupied by a rent stabilized tenant, the owner need not apply to DHCR but may proceed directly to court after the service of the proper notices. In both cases there are protections for senior citizens and disabled persons against eviction for owner occupancy. See Fact Sheet #10.

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Can a rent-regulated tenant who has to stay in a nursing home for an extended period of time be evicted?

The matter is not under the jurisdiction of DHCR. This situation is reviewed by the courts and is decided on a case-by-case basis. Historically, the courts have included as part of their consideration the length of time spent in the nursing home, evidence of an intention to return to the apartment, the tenant's medical prognosis and whether the tenant's possessions have been removed from the apartment.

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Rights of Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons

Do the Rent Laws provide any special rights for disabled persons?

The Rent Laws provide certain protections to disabled tenants and/or their spouses against eviction based on owner occupancy. See Fact Sheet #20.

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Does a Senior Citizen on a fixed income have any protection against rent increases?

Eligible Senior Citizens with a fixed income may qualify to have their rent frozen under the S.C.R.I.E program. In NYC, tenants may contact the NYC Department of Finance at 311. Tenants living in Nassau County and Westchester County may call DHCR at (914) 948-4434 to obtain an application and to inquire about their municipalities income and eligibility levels. See Fact Sheet #21.

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Last Updated: 04/15/14