Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Lease Renewal? WAIT!

IF

  • your rent is under $1000

    and

  • your lease is up for renewal after September 30, 2008 and before October 1, 2009

WAIT BEFORE SIGNING THE RENEWAL FORM.


Why? Because:


As you know, the Rent Guidelines Board voted that for leases starting from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009, increases will be

  • 4.5% for a 1-year lease
  • 8.5% for a 2-year lease

EXCEPT THAT where there has been no "vacancy lease" for 6 years or longer -- that is, where you have lived in that rent stabilized apartment for 6 years or more -- and the rent is under $1000, the owner is entitled to a larger increase of $45 for a 1-year lease and $85 for a 2-year lease.


There is a legal question about whether the term "vacancy lease" can even apply to former Mitchell-Lamas since it is a term of art referring to rent stabilization.


Since our building left Mitchell-Lama and entered rent stabilization in 2005 - less than 6 years ago - no one in our building has lived in a rent stabilized apartment for 6 years.


The Real Rent Reform Campaign and the P.I.E. Campaign will be challenging the applicability of the "6 year" clause to buildings that weren't even in rent stabilization 6 years ago.


BUT: If you have just received your lease renewal form, you do have respond. (If you don't file any response, you could lose your apartment!).


Attorney Ellen Davidson of Legal Aid suggests that for safety, tenants fill in and return their lease renewals accompanied by a letter stating their objection. Here's one way to do it: "I object to this lease renewal since my apartment was not in rent stabilization six years ago and therefore could not have had a 'vacancy lease.'"


If you have already submitted a lease renewal for a lease that begins any time from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009, and if we win on this legal point, you will be able to file an overcharge complaint to the state's Division of Housing & Community Renewal (DHCR) to try to get the money back.


Stay posted for developments on this.

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