Am I Being Overcharged By My Landlord?

In apartments subject to rent regulation and rent control laws, a landlord must provide certain documents to a tenant concurrent with signing a lease. Landlords must register each apartment and the prior rent-stabilized tenant with DHCR and also provide the tenant with a copy of the registration. A tenant should review the rent history for irregularities such as a major rent increase from one tenant to the next. For example, tenant A moved in with a rent of $600 per month and vacated one year later, then tenant B moved in and the rent was $1,000. The landlord would have to justify a $400 increase in such a short period of time. 

When Your Rent Can Be Increased

Your rent can only be increased in accordance with the rent guidelines issued by the Rent Guidelines Board or under specific grounds set forth in the Rent Stabilization Code, such as if improvements were made to the apartment. On June 14, 2019, a new housing law was passed titled HSPTA which allows a tenant to look back six years when examining an overcharge complaint. Additionally, the HSTPA vitiates the landlord’s right to a vacancy increase which provides for a 20% increase in the rent after a tenant vacates. Additionally, the HSTPA limits Individual Apartment Improvement (IAI) rent increases. The increase as applied to buildings with 35 or fewer apartments will be 1/168th. Which means the landlord can increase the rent one dollar per every $168 spent with a total cost limit of $15,000. In buildings containing more than 35 apartments the increase is limited to 1/180 which means that for every $180 spent the rent may increase by one dollar and the $15,000 limit also applies. After 30 years, the increase must be removed from the apartment. 

Preferential Rent Under HSTPA

The HSTPA also rescinds the landlord’s use of a preferential rent which means that you may be charged a lower rent than what can legally be charged. For example, the legal regulated rent for an apartment is $2,000, however the landlord has given you a preferential rent of $1,500. Prior to the enactment of the HSTPA the preferential rent could be rescinded and your rent could increase to $2,000 on a renewal lease. Now, the preferential rent becomes the legal regulated rent for the life of your tenancy subject to any increases authorized by the rent guidelines board. Therefore, if a preferential rent was in effect on June 14, 2019 then that becomes the legal regulate rent for the life of a tenancy.

If you believe the landlord has violated any of the above terms you should call a lawyer or file a rent overcharge complaint with DHCR.

Find Out How Our New York Law Firm Can Assist You

At Outerbridge Law P.C. in New York City, we provide experienced legal support to clients in a range of landlord-tenant matters. To arrange a consultation, please call us at 212-364-5593 or contact us online.