For a complete and thorough understanding of the law, please visit the Research Page which is full of links.
For access to Fact Sheets that describe the major elements of rent control and rent stabilization in New York City, go to http://www.dhcr.state.ny.us/Rent/FactSheets
The following is a snapshot of information taken from the Rent Administration's website:
The law prohibits harassment of rent regulated tenants. Owners found guilty of intentional actions to force a tenant to vacate an apartment can be denied decontrol and lawful rent increases and may be subject to both civil and criminal penalties. Owners found guilty of tenant harassment for acts committed on or after July 19, 1997, are subject to fines of up to $5,000 for each violation.
Which apartments are under Rent Control?
The rent control program applies to residential buildings constructed before February, 1947 in municipalities that have not declared an end to the postwar rental housing emergency. There are 55 municipalities that have rent control, including New York City, Albany, Buffalo, and various cities, towns and villages in Albany, Erie, Nassau, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Westchester counties.
In order for an apartment to be under rent control the tenant must have been living there continuously since before July 1, 1971. When a rent controlled apartment is vacated in NYC or most ETPA localities, it becomes rent stabilized (where the building contains at least six units), or completely removed from regulation.
How does Rent Control work?
Rent control limits the rent an owner may charge for an apartment and restricts the right of any owner to evict tenants.
Rents charged in controlled apartments are set and adjusted on the basis of registrations filed by owners when Federal rent control was imposed in 1943. The rent control law allows DHCR to determine how much rents can be increased based on an assessment of what it costs owners to operate their buildings plus a reasonable profit.
In New York City, rent control operates under the Maximum Base Rent (MBR) system. A maximum base rent is established for each apartment and adjusted every two years to reflect changes in operating costs. Owners who certify that they are providing essential services and have removed violations, are entitled to raise rents up to 7.5 percent each year until they reach the MBR. Tenants may challenge the proposed increase on the grounds that the building has violations or that the owner's expenses do not warrant an increase.
For New York City rent controlled apartments, rents can also be increased because of increases in fuel costs (passalongs) and in some cases, to cover higher labor costs.
Which apartments are under Rent Stabilization?
In New York City, apartments are under rent stabilization if they are in buildings of six or more units built between February 1, 1947, and December 31, 1973. Tenants in buildings built before February 1, 1947, who moved in after June 30, 1971, are also covered by rent stabilization. A third category of rent stabilized apartments covers buildings with three or more apartments constructed or extensively renovated on or after January 1, 1974 with special tax benefits. Generally, those buildings are only subject to stabilization while the tax benefits continue or, in some cases, until the tenant vacates.
Outside New York City, rent stabilization applies to non-rent controlled apartments in buildings of six or more units built before January 1, 1974, in the localities which have adopted ETPA in Nassau, Westchester and Rockland counties. Some municipalities limit ETPA to buildings of a specific size- for instance, buildings with 20 or more units, or 100 or more, but in any event, not less than six.
How does Rent Stabilization work?
Like rent control, rent stabilization also provides other protections to tenants besides limitations on the amount of rent. Tenants are entitled to receive required services, to have their leases renewed, and may not be evicted except on grounds allowed by law. Leases may be renewed for a term of one or two years, at the tenant's choice.
If a tenant's rights are violated, DHCR can reduce rents and levy civil penalties against the owner. Rents may be reduced if services are not maintained. In cases of overcharge, DHCR may assess penalties of interest or treble damages payable to the tenant.
What is luxury decontrol?
The Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1997, New York City Local Law 4 of 1994 and the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1993 provide for the deregulation of certain apartments based on the following conditions.
Statewide, pursuant to the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1997, an apartment with a legal regulated or maximum rent of $2,000 or more per month on or after June 19, 1997, and which was or becomes vacant on or after June 19, 1997, is not subject to rent regulation. Previously, pursuant to the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1993, apartments were exempt from rent regulation, statewide, if they had legal rents of $2,000 or more per month at any time between July 7, 1993 and October 1, 1993 and were or became vacant on or after July 7, 1993. In New York City, Local Law No. 4 of 1994 further provided for deregulation of apartments with legal rents of $2,000 or more per month at any time which were or became vacant on or after April 1, 1994.
These laws also provide for deregulation of high-rent apartments occupied by high-income tenants by order of DHCR in response to the filing of an owner's petition for luxury deregulation.
Pursuant to the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1993 and Local Law No. 4 of 1994, for luxury deregulation petitions filed with DHCR on or before June 30, 1997 involving New York City apartments, deregulation occurs for apartments with legal rents of $2,000 or more per month and which are occupied by tenants whose household incomes were in excess of $250,000 in each of the two successive years prior to the filing of the owner's petition. Pursuant to the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1993, for deregulation petitions filed on or before June 30, 1997 involving apartments located outside New York City, deregulation occurs for apartments with legal rents of $2,000 or more on October 1, 1993 and which are occupied by tenants whose household incomes were in excess of $250,000 in each of the two successive years prior to the filing of the owner's petition.
Pursuant to the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1997, for deregulation petitions filed with DHCR after January 1, 1998, deregulation will occur statewide for apartments with legal rents of $2,000 or more per month and which are occupied by tenants whose household incomes were in excess of $175,000 in each of the two successive years prior to the filing of the owner's petition.