Friday, January 17, 2014

Some Law Governing Rent Regulation Has Changed - for the better

The NYS Department of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), which oversees rent regulation in the state, has just enacted new and better provisions to the RENT STABILIZATION CODE (RSC).  
These regulations interpret the rent stabilization statute (for our building those statutes are principally the Rent Stabilization Law of 1969 and the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974).  

So the Central Park Gardens Tenant Handbook has been modified, as has the advice to new tenants on "How to Get Your Apartment Back Into Rent Stabilization." 

Click on "read more" below for the main changes that affect us in this building.

1. New, market-rate tenants must be given a detailed description of the work the owner did to claim to take the apartment out of rent regulation.  The new tenant has 60 days from signing the lease to ask for the documentation supporting that claimed work.  This is very important, and may save new tenants a lot of work later if they decide to challenge the owner de-regulating the apartment.  

2. DRIE (Disability Rent Increase Exemption) tenants who were not paying for electricity when they got DRIE will not have to pay separately for electricity.  That makes them the same as SCRIE tenants who were not paying separately for electricity when they got SCRIE.  (Note:  People who get SCRIE or DRIE when they are already paying separately for electricity must continue to pay their separate electricity bills.)

3. If you are paying LESS THAN the legal regulated rent - as may be the case for a few tenants who transferred apartments at Stellar's request,  that is called a PREFERENTIAL rent.  Stellar may not increase rent based on the(higher)  legal regulated rent unless Stellar puts the LEGAL REGULATED RENT in the lease.

4.  If there is an open "hazardous violation,"  Stellar cannot get a Major Capital Improvement increase. (So far, there have been no such violations in this building.)

Here is Tenants & Neighbors' summary of all the changes.  The amendments: 
  • Establish the Tenant Protection Units (TPU) as a separate and distinct unit under the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, with the power to investigate and prosecute violations of the ETPA, the Rent Stabilization Law, and the City and State rent laws;
  • Curtail Major Capital Improvement increases when there are immediately hazardous violations;
  • Prevent landlords from attempting to use the loopholes in high-income/high rent deregulation laws to deregulate the apartments of low-income elderly and disabled tenants;
  • Provide tenants with information they need to determine if they are being overcharged and/or if their apartment was illegally deregulated;
  • Make it more difficult for landlords to inflate the cost of Individual Apartment Improvements;
  • Increase penalties for landlords' failure to register rents;
  • Expand the circumstances when HCR can look back more than four years to determine whether a rent overcharge has occurred; 
  • Increase reporting requirements for preferential rents; and
  • Formalize the "default formula" for rent setting in complex scenarios.