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Tenant's Rights Under Rent Stabilization...

The NYC Rent Guidelines Board Guide To Tenant’s Rights under rent stabilization is comprehensive. Look here for a great summary of rights.

Tenant’s Rights Under Rent Stabilization
an article By Yongjin Choi, eHow Contributor
updated: January 29, 2011

In New York, the rent stabilization laws provide strict guidelines and rate limits determined by one of four Rent Guideline Boards in the state. In New York City, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board sets the guideline rates every year effective for a one-year lease beginning on October 1st of that year. In New York City, rent can be increased during the tenancy in only three ways.

Rent Stabilization Facts

Historically, in the state of New York, rent regulation laws date back to World War II to protect tenants from landlords who unreasonably raised their rental rates during the housing shortage in the state following the war. There are two types of rent regulation laws. The rent control laws apply to building built before 1947. Rent stabilization laws, however, apply to buildings built between 1947 and 1974. In New York City, landlords renting rent stabilization apartments must comply with the Emergency Tenant Protection Act.

Rent Regulations

If the lease allows the landlord to raise rent, landlords may only raise a tenant's rent during the term of the tenancy in three situations. First, if the landlord improves the apartment or provides additional services, the tenant can provide written consent of paying the increased amount for the additional services. Second, landlords can raise rent if the state's Division of Housing and Community Renewal approves the increase and the landlord installs a major capital improvement in the landlord's entire building. Lastly, landlords can raise rent with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal's approval if the landlords proves economic hardship.

Rent Overcharge Rights

Tenants have legal rights to receive a refund of rental overpayments from their landlords who illegally raised their rents during their lease terms. If the Division of Housing and Community Renewal determines the landlord willfully or intentionally overcharged the tenant, then the tenant may be able to file a complaint with the housing agency for triple or treble damages based on the overcharged amount.

Security Deposit Rights

Tenants cannot be charged more than one month's rent for a security deposit, unless the landlord receives an exception to collect two months' rent. A tenant's security deposit must be held in an interest-bearing New York State bank account and returned by the time a tenant vacates or within a reasonable timeframe thereafter. New York does not provide time limits but views reasonable time periods on a case-by-case basis. The landlord must provide the tenant with written notice of where the tenant's security deposit is being held. Landlords must return the tenant's remaining deposit with the full amount of accrued interest less one percent of interest for the landlord's administrative fees. Tenants can choose how their accrued interest is paid: at the end of the tenancy, during tenancy, or subtracted from rent. Landlords may deduct fees for damage beyond normal wear and tear or for unpaid rent. However, landlords cannot use the security deposit to cover the last month's rent and must sue the tenant separately for the last month's rent payment.

Rights to Working Equipment

Required services include providing hot and cold water, heat, upkeep of the premises, painting, elevator service, janitorial services and recreational facility upkeep or garage upkeep, if provided. Tenants do not have rights to require de minimis or minor repairs that do not impact their use and enjoyment of their rentals. Rent stabilized tenants have rights to working equipment within their apartments if the landlord supplied it as part of the lease agreement. Tenants have rights to file written complaints with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal for a decrease in services and formally request a reduction in rent when a landlord fails to correct a defective appliance or service after the tenant requests the repair. For some emergency repairs, tenants do not have to provide written notice to reduce their rent.

Rent Reduction Rights

Tenants can reduce their rent payments after notifying the Division if the landlord failed to service a required repair. Justifiable rent reductions include reducing rent for lack of electricity, hot water or heat, failure to maintain the common areas properly or failing to repair broken doors or locks.

Curbed has a good article in their “Curbed University” series on your rights as a tenant. It’s definitely worth taking a look at. You can find the article here.

  • Here is a copy of a “short form” lease, which is written in “plain English,” as it says.
  • You can download a Blumberg standard form rent stabilized lease here.
  • The Rent Stabilization Rider.
  • A month to month lease.
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