It is important to note that these FAQs are not intended as a substitute for the definitions, interpretations, etc., contained in the respective rent regulatory statutes, codes, and regulations themselves, or any administrative or court decision construing such statutes, codes, and regulations, or any order of the New York City or County Rent Guidelines Boards.
- I’m not sure my apartment is stabilized. How much can my rent be raised?
- How do rents increase in stabilized apartments?
- Do the rent stabilization laws ever expire (aka “sunset”)?
- How do I find out if my building has rent regulated apartments?
- Are there any restrictions on rent increases in my unregulated apartment?
- Where can one go to get information on the availability of rent stabilized apartments?
- Can my landlord demand rent payment by cash or money order only?
- Am I entitled to a receipt for my rent payments?
- I have a stabilized apartment outside NYC. Are renewal amounts different from NYC?
- Are stabilized increases based on the legal or preferential rent?
- How can I find out what the previous tenant paid in rent?
- I recently discovered that my rent has tripled from the prior tenant. Should I file an overcharge complaint?
- How can I find out what the landlord spent on individual apartment improvements (IAI) before signing my new lease?
- What is an MCI increase?
- As a rent stabilized tenant, do I have to pay increases for major capital improvements (MCI’s) in perpetuity?
I’m not sure my apartment is stabilized. How much can my rent be raised?
To find out whether or not your apartment is rent stabilized, contact NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), the state agency which administers the rent laws. Ask them if the apartment is or should be rent stabilized, and if it is, ask for a “rent history.” Also, if the apartment is rent stabilized, ask your landlord to provide a copy of the rent stabilization “lease rider.” If the apartment is rent stabilized, see the answer to the next question.
If you find that your apartment is not rent stabilized, there is no limit on the rent increase that can be charged at the end of your lease. If you have no lease, or your lease has expired, you are considered a “month-to-month” tenant. According to the NYS Attorney General’s Office, a NYC landlord may raise the rent of a month-to-month tenant with the consent of the tenant. However, if the tenant does not consent, the landlord can terminate the tenancy by giving appropriate notice (Real Property Law ß232-b). Also read about month-to-month tenancy in the NY State Attorney General’s Tenants’ Rights Guide (Also in Spanish).
How do rents increase in stabilized apartments?
If you are rent stabilized, your rent can only be increased in accordance with the rent guidelines issued by the Rent Guidelines Board or on a specific ground set forth in the Rent Stabilization Code. The most common grounds for rent increases outside of our annual guidelines are major capital improvement (MCI) and individual apartment improvement (IAI) increases.
To see how much the rent may increase based on our rent guidelines, refer to our most recent Apartment Order. Rent increases based on other factors, like apartment improvements, can be found in HCR Fact Sheet #26: Guide to Rent Increases for Rent Stabilized Apartments in New York City. Also see HCR’s Overcharge webpage. If you live in a 421-a building, also read our Tax Abatement/Exemption FAQ.
Do the rent stabilization laws ever expire (aka “sunset”)?
The rent regulation laws were most recently renewed effective June 14, 2019, and unlike prior laws, are not set to expire on any given date.
How do I find out if my building has rent regulated apartments?
On our web site, we maintain a list of stabilized buildings. However, the RGB does not have any information concerning whether any particular apartment is rent stabilized.
The only way to know if your apartment is rent stabilized is to contact NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), the state agency which administers the rent laws.
Are there any restrictions on rent increases in my unregulated apartment?
If a lease is currently in effect, there can be no rent increases. When a lease expires, or if there is no lease in effect, an owner of an unregulated apartment may charge what the market will bear. However, with passage of the Housing Stability & Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA) of 2019, landlords are now required to provide tenants with notice if they intend to raise the rent by more than 5 percent. They must also notify tenants if they do not intend to renew a lease. If a tenant has a lease of less than one year, a 30-day notice is now mandatory. A 60-day notice is required for renters who have lived in an apartment for more than one year, but less than two years, or have a lease of at least one year, but less than two years. Tenants who have lived in a unit for more than two years, or have a lease of at least two years, must get a 90-day notice.
Of course, it is always worthwhile to check to see if the apartment was, if previously regulated, lawfully deregulated. To determine if the increase to a deregulated level was lawful, contact NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), the state agency which administers the rent laws, and ask for a rent history.
Where can one go to get information on the availability of rent stabilized apartments?
There is no central place for finding available rent stabilized apartments. They are typically offered like other apartments, through word-of-mouth; brokers; on-line listings; etc. Take a look at our Apartment Hunting page for more information on finding an apartment.
We also have a list of stabilized buildings, but it is not comprehensive, and does not list which apartments in these buildings are rent stabilized. We do not have information on apartment availability, nor do we have ownership information. You will have to contact the building owner or managing agent yourself to check on the availability of a particular apartment. The name and contact information of the owner or managing agent is frequently posted in the lobby of a building. You can also obtain owner information by visiting HPD Online and NYC Dept. of Finance Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS).
Can my landlord demand rent payment by cash or money order only?
No. According to the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (HCR), the state agency that administers the rent laws, cash, money orders, personal checks and cashier’s checks are all valid ways to pay your rent, but your landlord cannot demand a specific form of payment unless the tenant agrees to it in a stipulation in Housing Court.
Am I entitled to a receipt for my rent payments?
Landlords must provide tenants with a written receipt when rent is paid in cash, a money order, a cashier’s check or in any form other than personal check of a tenant. Where a tenant pays the rent by personal check, they may request in writing a rent receipt from the landlord. The receipt must state the payment date, the amount, the period for which the rent was paid, and the apartment number. The receipt must be signed by the person receiving the payment and state his or her title. (Real Property Law §§235-e)
I have a stabilized apartment outside NYC. Are renewal amounts different from NYC?
Yes. Under the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA), each New York County with rent stabilized housing has its respective Rent Guidelines Board. We suggest you contact contact NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), the state agency which administers the rent laws, to find out the most recent guidelines for your county.
Are stabilized increases based on the legal or preferential rent?
According to HCR Fact Sheet #40: Preferential Rents:
Pursuant to the Housing Stability & Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA) of 2019, tenants that were paying a preferential rent as of June 14, 2019, retain the preferential rent for the life of the tenancy. Rent Guidelines Board increases and other increases allowed by the Rent Stabilization Law or Emergency Tenant Protection Act are to be applied to the preferential rent. A tenant who believes that they are entitled to a renewal lease with a preferential rent but is being charged more than that amount may file a rent overcharge or lease violation complaint with DHCR or a court of competent jurisdiction…
Owners may terminate the preferential rent and charge the higher legal regulated rent (with applicable increases) only when the tenant permanently vacates the apartment. In addition, the legal regulated rent upon which these increases are based must be written in the vacancy or renewal lease in which the preferential rent was first charged and in all subsequent renewal leases in order for the owner to charge the prior legal rent upon a vacancy. Registration with DHCR of the legal regulated rent by itself will not establish the legal rent for future usage.
An owner cannot use or enforce a clause in a rent-stabilized lease that provides that the owner may end a preferential or a discounted rent where the tenant fails to pay the preferential or discounted rent on time or by a certain day of the month.
An owner cannot use or enforce any other lease clause that conditions the payment of a discounted rent on the performance of an act by the tenant, such as the tenant’s payment of the rent electronically. Such lease clauses may be challenged by the tenant in a rent overcharge or lease violation complaint with DHCR or can be reviewed by a court of competent jurisdiction.
The only way you can ascertain the legal rent is to contact NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), and ask for a determination or a review of their records on the apartment in question.
How can I find out what the previous tenant paid in rent?
First, you should make sure that the apartment is (or was) rent stabilized. In some cases, the building may contain rent stabilized units, but not all of the apartments in the building may be stabilized. Verify with the landlord that the unit is rent stabilized. We have a list of stabilized buildings, but it is not comprehensive.
When you sign a stabilized lease a stabilization “Lease Rider” should be attached to your lease. The lease rider should contain the previous rent (according to the landlord) and the reasons why it was increased.
It is not possible to get an official rent figure for the previous tenant (unless you ask the previous tenant himself/herself) until you move into the apartment. For confidentiality reasons, NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), will not give you the rent history for the apartment until you sign a lease. Thus, if you like the apartment and it is stabilized, move in and then get the previous rent. If it seems inaccurate or incorrect, you can file a rent overcharge complaint with HCR..
I recently discovered that my rent has tripled from the prior tenant. Should I file an overcharge complaint?
If the prior tenant was rent controlled you may consider filing a Fair Market Rent Appeal (FMRA). This may or may not result in the finding of a rent overcharge depending upon the various factors used in calculating the new rent. See HCR Fact Sheet #6: Fair Market Rent Appeals.
However, you may have been overcharged. HCR is the agency which administers the rent laws and they can determine whether you are being overcharged.
How can I find out what the landlord spent on individual apartment improvements (IAI) before signing my new lease?
Information on individual apartment improvements (IAI’s) can be found in these HCR webpages:
- HCR Fact Sheet #5: Vacancy Leases in Rent Stabilized Apartments
- HCR’s FAQ on Major Capital and Individual Apartment Improvements
- HCR’s Apartment Improvements page
- HCR Fact Sheet #26: Guide to Rent Increases for Rent Stabilized Apartments
What is an MCI increase?
When owners make improvements or installations to a building subject to the rent stabilization or rent control laws, they may be permitted to increase the rent based on the actual, verified cost of the improvements. This is called a Major Capital Improvement (MCI).
For a detailed explanation of MCIs, see HCR’s FAQ’s on Major Capital and Individual Apartment Improvements.
As a rent stabilized tenant, do I have to pay increases for major capital improvements (MCI’s) in perpetuity?
With passage of the Housing Stability & Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA) of 2019, MCI rent increases will be removed from the rent 30 years after the increase becomes effective. For further information, see the previous question.