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Rents Stabilization FAQ

See also Rent Control 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 2011 NYC Housing and Vacancy Survey, there are about 38,000 rent controlled apartments compared to about one million 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 a Fact Sheet.

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 the fact sheet.

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 rent stabilization?

New York City has a system of rent regulations known as "rent stabilization." The system was enacted in 1969 when rents were rising sharply in many post-war buildings. The system has been extended and amended frequently, and now about one million apartments in the City are covered by rent stabilization. Rent stabilized tenants are protected from sharp increases in rent and have the right to renew their leases. The history of rent stabilization can be found in extensive detail in An Introduction to the NYC Rent Guidelines Board and the Rent Stabilization System.

The NYC Rent Guidelines Board sets the allowable percentage increase for renewal leases each year. Current and past guidelines can be accessed here.

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Can my landlord evict me and use my stabilized apartment for his or her family, and how many apartments in the building can the landlord take?

One of the advantages of being a rent stabilized tenant is the statutory right to renew your lease. This right holds with few exceptions, and eviction for owner occupancy by the landlord or a family member is one of the exceptions.

The rent regulation laws allow the landlord of a rent stabilized building to take over one or more apartments for family use. However, he/she must give you 90 to 150 days notice before your existing lease expires that it will not be renewed. In addition, he/she must be able to prove that the apartment will be for family use.

Note that if you are 62 or older or disabled you have additional protections. If you do wish to stay in the apartment, you could simply stay put and wait for the landlord to serve you with eviction papers. The landlord will then have to prove in court that s/he needs the apartment for family use. The court may or may not agree with his or her assessment.

Regarding the number of apartments an owner can take: The Rent Stabilization Law and Code is a little vague about the number of apartments that an owner may occupy: "...only one of the individual owners of any building, whether such ownership is by joint tenancy, tenancy in common, or tenancy by the entirety to recover possession of one or more dwelling units for personal use and occupancy." However, the DHCR informs us that an owner can take more than one unit for his or her relative's occupancy.

Contact DHCR at (718) 739-6400 for additional information on this subject, and see the fact sheet on eviction for owner occupancy.

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The rent on my new apartment is over $2,500 - Can it be stabilized?

The building may in fact be rent stabilized, even though the rent exceeds $2,500.

In newly constructed or completely rebuilt buildings, many developers take advantage of the City's 421a and J-51 tax exemption programs. In return for the tax exemption, the developer/owner of the building must maintain the units under rent stabilization for the period of the tax exemption, which usually runs 10 to 20 years. More information is available in the 421a/J-51 FAQ section. In the case of new construction, the fact that the rent is over $2,500 does not affect the apartment's stabilization status.

An apartment may also remain rent stabilized even if the rent rises above $2,500 while a tenant remains in occupancy. However, when that occurs, the owner has a right to petition the NY State Division of Housing and Community Renewal to deregulate the apartment. More information on this can be found in the Decontrol/Destabilization FAQ section.

Ask the owner if the building is rent stabilized. You may also contact the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the agency which administers the rent laws, and ask them if it is, or should be rent stabilized.

If the building is rent stabilized, all of your renewal leases are governed by the lease renewal percentages enacted yearly by the Rent Guidelines Board. See here for current guidelines. If your unit is not stabilized, then there are no limits on increases your landlord can charge when the lease expires.

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What happens when the rent for my stabilized apartment rises above $2,500?

An apartment will remain rent stabilized even if the rent rises above $2,500 while a tenant remains in occupancy and household income is less than $200,000 for the two previous years. However, as the rent reaches $2,500 or more, the owner has a right to petition the NY State Division of Housing and Community Renewal to deregulate the apartment. Complete information on this can be found in the Decontrol/Destabilization FAQ section.

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How can I find out if my apartment is stabilized?

Contact the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), the state agency which administers the rent laws and ask if the apartment is (or should be) rent stabilized.

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Can the management company sell my stabilized apartment?

Since the management company is trying to sell your apartment, we take it that the building is a co-op or condominium. After a rent stabilized building is converted to a co-op or condominium, renters in place at the time of the conversion are usually allowed to remain under a non-eviction plan. They also have the right to renew their leases, and cannot be kicked out. However, once the rent stabilized tenant moves out, the apartment can either a) be sold; or b) be rented without the protections of rent stabilization. If you were in the building before it was converted to a co-op or condominium, you have the right to remain. However, if you moved in after the building was converted, the apartment is no longer rent stabilized and the management company is not obligated to renew your lease.

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Similar buildings in my neighborhood are stabilized - Why isn't mine?

The story of the rent laws, and why some buildings and apartments are stabilized and some are not, is a long one that is described in a fact sheet. In general, if your building has six or more units and is not a condo or co-op, contact the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), the state agency which administers the rent laws, and ask them if your apartment is (or should be) rent stabilized.

Should my landlord inform me that my unit is stabilized?

First, note that although a building may be listed on our site as containing rent stabilized units, not all units in the building are necessarily rent stabilized. You should contact the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), the state agency which administers the rent laws, to find out if your apartment is rent stabilized.

If your apartment is indeed stabilized, your landlord is supposed to attach to your lease the Rent Stabilization "Lease Rider." The rider informs you of your rights and responsibilities as a rent stabilized tenant, and includes the prior rent for the apartment, as well as the reasons the rent was increased. You can call the DHCR and file a complaint if your landlord did not provide the Rider. For more information, see the fact sheet on the Rider.

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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.

RGB Page Updated 1/31/2014


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