RENT OVERCHARGE





Are You Paying Too Much 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 (DHCR) 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.





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:


1. Obtain a rent history statement to see if you are rent stabilized.

2. Keep copies of all rent payments made to your landlord.

3. Keep copies of your lease and all renewals.

4. Contact us to see if you are being overcharged, its FREE!!!!


RENT ACT OF 2019


These reforms have dramatically changed the rental landscape for both landlords and tenants.

The act shall take effect immediately and “shall remain in full force and effect” thereafter.

Repealed High Rent Vacancy Deregulation (Repealed RSL §26-504.2) Repealed the provision that permitted deregulation of a rent stabilized apartment when the legal regulated rent exceeds the applicable high-rent threshold and the unit becomes vacant.

Repealed High Rent-High Income Deregulation (Repealed RSL §26-504.3 Repealed RSL §26-504.1) Repealed the provision that permitted deregulation of a rent stabilized apartment when the legal regulated rent exceeded the applicable high-rent threshold and the total annual income exceeded the deregulation income threshold.

Repealed application of vacancy increases and longevity increases (Repealed RSL §26-511(c)(5-a)) No vacancy increase will exist or apply No longevity increase will exist or apply. Preferential rents must be used as the base rent for lease renewals (RSL §26-511(14) modified) Renewal lease must use preferential rent as base rent except, where a building is subject to stabilization “by virtue of a regulatory agreement.”

Fixes new Base Date for Overcharged Extends the Statute of Limitations on Overcharge Complaints to Six (6) Years & Imposes Treble Damages (RSL §26-516 modified) Extends statute of limitations to 6 years Allows DHCR and the Court’s look back to 6-years prior to the filing of a rent overcharge complaint, or longer where it is “reasonably necessary to make such determination.” RSL §26-516(g) was amended to provide that an owner should maintain records for 6-years prior to the most recent registration in reality, an owner should maintain all records indefinitely.

Treble Damages: Eliminates the ability of an owner to rebut the presumption of willfulness by immediately tendering a refund of the rent overcharge. A rent overcharge that is the sole result of an owner’s failure to timely or properly file initial or annual rent registrations, was previously not subject to treble damages this exception has been removed from the RSL. (RSL §26-516(a)) A penalty of 3 times the overcharge will be assessed upon all overcharges collected by the owner starting 6-years before the complaint is filed. (RSL §26-516(a)(2)) The Act amended CPLR §213-a, to allow a tenant to file a rent overcharge claim at any time and obtain damages for the preceding 6-years, seemingly extending the statute of limitations not to 6-years but indefinitely and limiting damages to 6- year.

Limits Owner-Use of Stabilized Apartments (RSL §26-511(c)(9)(b) Limits owner recovery and use to one (1) apartment, on the basis of “immediate and compelling necessity” for personal use or use of a member of immediate family as their primary residence an apartment occupied by a tenant or a tenant’s spouse who is 62 or older was the pre-existing exception to an owner’s recovery, and is still in effect. Law amended to exclude owner recovery of an apartment where a tenant has been residing therein for 15 years or more. A tenant that surrenders their apartment will have a cause of action in court for damages, declaratory and injunctive relief against a landlord or purchaser who makes a fraudulent statement about the proposed use of the apartment.

Severely limits Individual Apartment Improvement (IAI) rent increases (RSL §26- 511(c)(13)) IAI rent increases will now be temporary. The temporary increase in the LRR will be 1/168th in buildings with 35 or fewer units, and 1/180th in buildings with more than 35 units. IAI rent increases will be limited to 3 IAIs over a period of 15 years, for an aggregate total cost of $15,000, which increase must be removed after 30 years from the date the increase became effective. DHCR will promulgate rules re: reasonable costs requires all work to be done by licensed contractors prohibits common ownership between a landlord and contractor or vendor and requires the owner to resolve all outstanding hazardous or immediately hazardous violations of the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, NYC Fire Code, or NYC Building and Housing Maintenance Code (at the apartment, not building) DHCR will establish a notification and documentation procedure for IAIs that requires an itemized list of work, and an explanation for the purpose of such work, inclusive of photographs documenting conditions prior to and after the work the Agency will provide for centralized electronic retention of such documentation to be made available in cases regarding adjustment of the legal regulated rent.

(Included in RSL §26-511.1) Limits Ability to collect Major Capital Improvement (MCI) rent increase (Added RSL §26- 511.1) The MCI rent increase cap was reduced from 6% per year to 2% per year. Important: This reduction affects previously approved MCIs. The collection of any rent increases due to any MCIs approved on or after June 16, 2012 and before June 16, 2019 must not exceed 2% in any year beginning on or after September 1, 2019 for any tenant in occupancy on the date the MCI was approved. An MCI rent increase is temporary likewise, to the IAI rent increase, the MCI rent increase must be removed from the legal regulated rent 30 years from the date the increase became effective. DHCR will send a notice to the landlord and all tenants 60 days prior to the end of a temporary MCI increase, which will indicate the total amount to be removed from the legal regulated rent. MCI rent increase are prohibited for buildings with 35% or less rent-regulated units. Amortization period has been extended from 8-years to a 12-year period for a building with 35 or fewer units, and from 9-years to 12 ½ years for buildings with more than 35 units. (RSL §26-511(c)(6), as amended). An MCI rent increase will have no retroactive portion. (RSL §26-511(c)(6), as amended). Impact on Rent-Controlled Apartments Limits the Increase to the rent of Rent-Controlled Tenants (26-405) Amends the maximum collectible rent (MCR) increase formula that applies to rent control units to set annual increase at either average of the last 5 years of RGB increases, or 7.5%, whichever is less. Prohibit fuel pass-along charges for rent-controlled tenants.