Are You Paying Too Much In Rent?
Could your apartment be rent stabilized? More often than not we find that there are tenants living in homes unaware of their rent stabilization status. If you live in a building that was constructed before 1974 that has six or more units check with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal and request a rent history statement for your apartment. Additionally, you can also start by checking if your building is listed as rent stabilized at the NYC Rent Guidelines Board. Or call DHCR at 718-739-6400. If you are rent stabilized your rent history should have been attached to your lease as a “rider”.
Landlords Can Only Charge The Legal Registered Rent
You might be paying more than you have to. The “legal rent” is the lawful amount a landlord can charge. This is based on the apartment’s rent registration amount filed with the DHCR. If your apartment is in fact rent stabilized and you were unaware, it is likely that you would have a claim of overcharge. Rent overcharges imposed willfully by landlords are subject to monetary penalties.
These penalties are three times the amount of the overcharge for the two years previous to the tenant filing the complaint. Tenants are entitled to monetary compensation and/or a rent offset until the overcharge amount is paid back.
Keep in mind that landlords are entitled to annual rent increases, MCI increases, vacancy increases and remodeling increases.
Rent Stabilization started in 1969 and since that time it has been extended and changed many times. Every day there are cases in NYC’s housing courts regarding rent stabilization and overcharge complaints. Currently there are about one million apartments in NYC that are rent stabilized. It is good to be rent stabilized as it regulates the amount you can be charged for a rent increase and the right for lease renewals. This means no excessive rent increases based on a landlord’s whim!
Basic Steps to Take Toward an Overcharge Claim
- Obtain a rent history statement to see if you are rent stabilized
- Keep copies of all rent payments made to your landlord
- Keep copies of your lease and all renewals
- Contact an attorney to assist you with this process or file an overcharge complaint with DHCR (this process can be complicated I suggest you speak with an attorney first)
If you need assistance with this process please give me a call.