The Strongest Tenant Protections in Decades
by Darryl C. Towns
Rent regulated tenants enjoy numerous rights, particularly with respect to rents, leases and services. To exercise these rights you must file the appropriate DHCR application or complaint form. All tenant forms can be found at http://www.nyshcr.org/Forms/Rent/#tenant
Apartment rents are registered annually by building owners with DHCR's Office of Rent Administration (See: Rent Regulated Building Search). Under law, the rent information provided is confidential and can only be released to the apartment's legal tenant, the building owner, or their authorized representative.
You can access the rent history of your apartment in one of the following ways:
The Rent Guidelines Boards (one in New York City and one each in Nassau, Westchester, and Rockland counties) set maximum allowable rates for rent increases in stabilized apartments for one and two-year lease renewals. These guideline rates are set once a year and are effective for leases beginning on or after October 1st of each year.
New York State law provides for a vacancy lease increase that cannot exceed 20% for new tenants moving into rent stabilized apartments. Rents can also be increased during the lease period, usually in one of three ways:
With the written consent of the tenant in occupancy if the owner increases services or equipment or makes improvements to an apartment
Without the written consent of DHCR if the owner increases services or equipment or makes improvements to an apartment while it is vacant
With DHCR approval if the owner installs a building-wide major capital improvement
If a tenant files a rent overcharge complaint (http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/InfobyTopic.htm#overcharge) with HCR and HCR issues a written order finding the complaint valid, the legal rent will be reduced and the owner will be directed to refund the overcharged amount to the tenant.
Rents may be reduced if the owner fails to provide required or essential services or fails to make necessary repairs for an individual apartment or building-wide. Examples include lack of heat/hot water, unsanitary common areas (halls, lobby), and broken door locks. If a tenant files a Decrease in Service Complaint (http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/InfobyTopic.htm#services) with DHCR and DHCR finds the complaint valid, a written order will be issued that reduces the rent and the reduction will remain in effect until services are found to be restored.
Tenants can report conditions that require emergency repair or have caused them to vacate the apartment on a new online complaint form Application for Decreased Services - Individual Apartment Emergency Conditions. These complaints will be treated as a first priority. Tenants can visit a Borough/District Rent Office, to access a computer and receive assistance from DHCR staff in filing the online form.
Tenants must be given an opportunity to renew their lease for one or two years on the current terms and conditions. The renewal is to be offered several months in advance of the expiration of the existing lease and at the rates set by the Rent Guidelines Board. Tenants have the right to file written release complaints with DHCR (http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/InfobyTopic.htm#leases)
For additional information and other topics select http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/infobytopic.htm
NYC Department of Buildings: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dob/html/home/home.shtml NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development: http://home2.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/home/home.shtml NYC Rent Guidelines Board: http://www.housingnyc.com
Last updated on 04/25/12