What is rent stabilization?

Rent stabilization is a New York-based program, which regulates an apartment’s rent and the landlord’s power. Under rent stabilization, tenants are protected by certain rights. These rights include:

  • Protection against unreasonable or unwarranted rent increases.
  • The right to renew one- or two-year leases.
  • Protection against unfair evictions.
  • The right to proper services and repairs.
  • The right to pass on the apartment after they are deceased or leave the apartment.

When understanding rent stabilization, it is important to remember that each right has certain limitations and exceptions. Knowing your rights as a tenant is important, and knowing these rights will help tenants of rent-stabilized apartments further understand the extent of their rights.

Knowing tenant’s rights

Rent stabilization rights focus on an apartment’s affordability, habitability, and the tenant’s security.

Affordability

Although rent stabilization controls rent, the rent does not reflect the surrounding area market rents or the tenant’s or household’s income. Instead, an apartment’s rent is determined by the building’s rent history. Legally, a new tenant to a rent-stabilized apartment cannot be charged more than a certain percentage than the last tenant. If the apartment was vacated for  two years or less, the new rent can increase 5%; less than three years, 10%; less than four years, 15%; and less than five years, 20%. These are known as vacancy increases.  

Furthermore, tenants who renew their leases cannot have their rents raised any higher than the approved rate for their location. These rates are chosen by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board and change every year. For this year’s rates, visit here.  

Habitability

Landlords must provide necessary repairs and services, including heat and hot water, maintenance, painting and janitorial service. If a landlord does not provide these services, then the tenant has the right to report the neglect.

When an apartment or building lacks essential repairs (i.e: no heat or hot water, filthy halls, lobbies or other common areas, broken locks, etc.), then tenants have the right to file a Rent Reduction Based Upon Decreased Service(s) – Individual Apartment form. If approved, the tenant(s)’s rents will be lowered until all services are fully restored. To learn more visit here.

If an apartment requires emergency repairs which force the tenants to evacuate their homes, then an Application for Decreased Services – Individual Apartment Emergency Conditions can be done. These cases get special privileges and are given first priority. To learn more, visit here, and to go to the form site, visit here.

Tenant’s Rights

The right to pass on a rent controlled apartment to a family member is known as succession rights. Family members who have resided with the primary resident for more than two years are allowed to renew the apartment’s lease after the primary tenant passes away or leaves the apartment. The immediate successor cannot be charged with vacancy increases. A family member can be anyone related by blood or law or can be anyone who lived with the primary tenant who shared an emotional and financial commitment with them. For more information, visit here.   

Tenants also have the right to file for overcharge if they are being overcharged on their rent. (Find more information here)

Additional sources

http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/FactSheets/orafac1.pdf

http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/FactSheets/index.htm#fac16

http://metcouncilonhousing.org/help_and_answers/about_rent_stabilization#answer03

http://www.nycrgb.org/html/resources/faq/rentstab.html