If you are a rent stabilized tenant paying a “preferential” rent, where the landlord agrees to charge you less than it legally can, you should know that until 2019 a landlord was permitted to take away your preferential rent in your next lease renewal when your lease expired. That means your rent could have jumped from $1,000 per month to $2,000 overnight and it was completely legal.

Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA) of 2019

However, in June 2019, the legislature passed significant legislation protecting NYC residential tenants, titled the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, also known as the HSTPA. Under the HSTPA, anyone paying a preferential rent is entitled to that lower rent being their permanent base rent to which all future legal increases would apply. The landlord could charge the next tenant the full legal rent once the tenant with the preferential rent has vacated. Thus, if you are currently paying a “preferential rent'' (if you are not sure, read your lease, which will indicate if a preferential rent is being granted), when signing your next renewal, make sure the renewal states that you are paying the correct, preferential rent. 

Be Vigilant, Especially During the Pandemic

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to be vigilant about making sure your preferential rent is preserved in each renewal that you sign. As landlords have faced significant loss of rental income since March 2020, they are more willing to offer rent breaks to prospective tenants in order to fill empty apartments. One of the ways they do this is by offering generous preferential rents. However, as the economy slowly but surely recovers from the effects of the pandemic, some landlords will inevitably try to revert to charging the full legal rent, even if it’s prohibited by law. 

Thus, if you are currently paying a preferential rent and in your next lease renewal offer your landlord takes the preferential rent away and charges you the full legal rent, do not sign it and advise the landlord to issue a proper renewal with the preferential rent intact (plus any permitted increase). 

If your landlord refuses to offer you a renewal with the correct rent, consult a landlord-tenant attorney to resolve the matter.  

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.