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Rent Control FAQ

See also Rent Stabilization FAQ's


Disclaimer: By providing answers to frequently asked questions, the staff of the Rent Guidelines Board attempts to clarify the often complex programs and regulations governing landlord tenant relations in NYC. However, the information provided herein does not represent official policies or opinions of the City of New York or the Rent Guidelines Board nor should this information be used to substitute for advice of legal counsel.

In addition: The NYS Homes and Community Renewal's Office of Rent Administration (DHCR) also offers useful information on their Web site, with special web pages for both owners and tenants, as well as their own FAQ page.

 


Is there a difference between Rent Control and Rent Stabilization?

Yes. While rent control and rent stabilization both involve rent regulation, they have different sets of regulations. According to the 2014 NYC Housing and Vacancy Survey, there are about 27,000 rent controlled apartments vs. about 1,030,000 rent stabilized apartments.

The term "rent regulated" encompasses both rent controlled and rent stabilized units. The Rent Guidelines Board has the responsibility for setting rent adjustments for rent stabilized apartments, but not for rent controlled apartments. The NYC Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the agency that regulates both rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments, also explains them in DHCR Fact Sheet #1.

Rent Control:

The rent control program generally applies to residential buildings constructed before February 1947 in municipalities that have not declared an end to the postwar rental housing emergency. A total of 51 municipalities have rent control, including New York City, Albany, Buffalo and various cities, towns, and villages in Albany, Erie, Nassau, Rensselaer, Schenectady and Westchester counties.

For an apartment to be under rent control, the tenant (or their lawful successor such as a family member, spouse, or adult lifetime partner) must have been living in that apartment continuously since before July 1, 1971. When a rent controlled apartment becomes vacant, it either becomes rent stabilized, or, if it is in a building with fewer than six units, it is generally removed from regulation. For more information on succession and the definition of a family member, check out DHCR Fact Sheet #30.

An apartment in a one- or two-family house must have a tenant in continuous occupancy since April 1, 1953 in order to be subject to rent control. Once it is vacated after that date, it is no longer subject to regulation. Previously controlled apartments may have been decontrolled on various other grounds. On rare occasions, a decontrolled apartment is ordered back under rent control as a penalty for certain violations of the rent laws.

Rent Stabilization:

In NYC, rent stabilized apartments are generally those apartments in buildings of six or more units built between February 1, 1947 and January 1, 1974.

Tenants in buildings of six or more units built before February 1, 1947 and 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 since 1974 with special tax benefits. Generally, these buildings are stabilized only while the tax benefits continue.

Exceptions:

There are numerous exceptions to both of these general categories. For example, if the legal rent exceeded $2,500 following a vacancy the unit may be deregulated. Or, if the unit was in a building converted to a co-op it may be deregulated upon vacancy.

To determine if your apartment is under rent stabilization or rent control, contact the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

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What is the status of rent control?

Rent control covers about 38,000 apartments occupied generally by an older, lower income population who have been in occupancy since July 1, 1971, or by their lawful successors. Apartments under rent control become decontrolled upon vacancy. If the apartment is in a building with six or more units it will generally fall under rent stabilization upon vacancy. If in a building with five or fewer apartments it will "go to market," that is, leave rent regulation and become a market-rate rental. Even if the apartment is in a building with six or more units, and it rents for more than $2,500 it will be fully deregulated. Whether or not the legal rent has surpassed this $2,500 threshold may be determined in what is known as a Fair Market Rent Appeal. For further information on this process see DHCR Fact Sheet #6 on Fair Market Rent Appeals.

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When will we see the last rent controlled apartment?

The long-term trend is towards zero rent-controlled apartments, but no one knows when that will exactly occur.

Here are some facts: At one point in the early 1950’s there were over two million rent controlled apartments. The 1993 Housing and Vacancy Survey (HVS) reported 101,798 rent controlled apartments. The 1996 HVS reported 70,572. The most recent HVS, from 2014, found about 27,000 rent control apartments remaining in NYC.

There is no reliable rate of units leaving rent-controlled status per year. The factors that most influence the rate that rent-controlled units move into stabilization are:

  • Rent-controlled tenants are statutory tenants, i.e., they can stay as long as they choose to so effectively, many apartments could stay rent-controlled in perpetuity vis-à-vis succession rights (See DHCR Fact Sheet #30 for more information about succession rights);
  • Aging tenants - for tenants who are elderly and do not have successors, their advancing age will be a factor in the conversion of many rent-controlled apartments; and
  • Changes in the law - Albany will revisit the entire rent regulation system again in 2015, when the rent stabilization law comes up for renewal.

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We have continuously occupied our apartment since 1962 - how do I know if it's rent controlled and if I have the right to stay?

If your building was constructed prior to February 1, 1947 and has at least three units, you may indeed be in a rent controlled apartment. Contact the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the state agency that administers the rent laws, at (718) 739-6400, to check.

DHCR can also tell you what increases were allowed over the years and assess if your rent is correct. DHCR sets the annual increases for rent controlled apartments. For rent controlled apartments, any "family member" of the tenant may have the right to protection from eviction when the tenant dies or permanently leaves the apartment.

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My mother passed away - can I continue to live in her controlled apartment?

Under the rent control rules, you could take over or "succeed" to the apartment only if you had lived with your mother for the two year period immediately preceding her passing or departure from the apartment, or, if you are a senior citizen or are disabled, you only had to have lived with your mother for one year. For more information, see DHCR Fact Sheet #30 on succession rights.

Succession rights are also discussed in the Succession Rights FAQ's.

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The prior tenant was rent controlled. How much can the rent be increased?

The landlord may initially ask any rent that the market may bear, subject to the tenant’s right to file a Fair Market Rent Appeal.

The new tenant has the right to file a Fair Market Rent Appeal within 90 days after receiving a special notice about this right from the landlord. However, even if the owner does not provide notice, the tenant must act within four years of time that the rent controlled tenancy ended. For more information contact the NY State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (718-739-6400).

If the DHCR receives a timely Fair Market Rent Appeal (DHCR Fact Sheet #6), it will consider the "special guideline" promulgated by the Rent Guidelines Board in setting a new rent. To review the current special guideline, see the most recent Apartment Order. The DHCR may also consider rents for comparable apartments which have undergone decontrol. Typically, both factors are given equal weight. If no "comparables" are submitted by the owner, the DHCR will rely exclusively on the special guideline. The DHCR may also add rent increases based upon individual apartment improvements or major capital improvements.

Due to high rent deregulation laws now in effect, if the legal rent exceeds a certain level, it may be subject to deregulation. For more information, see our FAQ section on this subject.

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How does the Landlord legally increase the rent to over a certain amount and thereby deregulate a formerly rent regulated apartment?

This is called High-Rent/Vacancy and High-Rent/High-Income Deregulation. Please see our FAQ section on this subject.

For more information, contact the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the state agency that administers the rent laws, at 718-739-6400.

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Disclaimer: By providing answers to frequently asked questions, the staff of the Rent Guidelines Board attempts to clarify the often complex programs and regulations governing landlord tenant relations in NYC. However, the information provided herein does not represent official policies or opinions of the City of New York or the Rent Guidelines Board nor should this information be used to substitute for advice of legal counsel.

In addition: The NYS Homes and Community Renewal's Office of Rent Administration (DHCR) also offers useful information on their Web site, with special web pages for both owners and tenants, as well as their own FAQ page.

RGB Page Updated 6/1/2016


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