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Rent Stabilization & Preferential Information Validation

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

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Rent Stabilization & Preferential Information Validation

Postby pnpboi » Wed Sep 25, 2019 9:57 pm

Hi TenantNet Forums, sorry ahead of time, i'm not good at writing. Im posting today to get validation on the information i've gathered from these forums and numerous sites on the internet regarding rent stabilization and preferential rent.

From everything I read on this forum and internet I firmly believe I am living in a rent stabilized apartment. My landlord claims I am not and has mentioned twice that I do not have a rent stabilized apartment. Once when I signed my lease to move in. The second time was last week when my lease renewal letter came in. It stated in bold letters, "THIS APARTMENT IS NOT SUBJECT TO RENT STABILIZATION".

Details about my lease/building and why I believe it's a rent stabilized apartment

- Lease started on Dec 15th 2018 for an all utilities included apartment with a preferential rent of $1600, the legal amount is $2400.

- Ground floor apartment that included utilities, all other apartments on the higher floors pay for their own utilities.

- When I signed my lease in 2018, it came with a "Lease rider for rent stabilized tenants", as well as another lease rider that outlined the legal rent and preferential rent.

- I have requested and received my apartments rent history from the DHCR's Office of Rent Administration and my apartment is coded RS under apartment status (Rent Stabilized)

- Built In The 1930's and has over 115 units

- Has never reached $2,774.76 to become deregulated prior to the new rent laws.

- Does not seem to be receiving J-51 or 421a tax abatement

- The landlord is either being generous or just following the law because I received my rent renewal mid September and my lease ends on Dec 31st. which follows the "landlord is required to send a renewal lease offer between 90 and 150 days before your existing lease expires."

- No Certificates of Occupancy on file

---------------

Do i qualify for the new rent laws regarding preferential rent that passed on June 2019?

According to according to DHCR Fact Sheet 26 and 40, if everything I said above about being rent stabilized is correct, then the answer is yes.

----------

Regarding my lease renewal,

The renewal form I received from them was just a letter stating

- My new rent (raised to max legal amount + 1.5% increase),

- Stating i am NOT living in a rent stabilized apartment.

- And only giving me the option of a 1 year lease renewal or moving out.

As I've researched, I should of been offered a renewal form (Only on a RTP-8) with an option for 1 or 2 years. It should of also came with an updated copy of the New York City Lease Rider For Rent Stabilized Tenant. The rent on the renewal form should be based off of my preferential rent from my original lease in 2018.

The increase to rent should only be what the rent guidelines board allows which is...
https://www1.nyc.gov/site/rentguidelinesboard/index.page
- 1.5% for a 1 Year Lease Renewal, or
- 2.5% for a 2 Year Lease Renewal

Thank you for reading, sorry for the long post.
Last edited by pnpboi on Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rent Stabilization & Preferential Information Validation

Postby TenantNet » Thu Sep 26, 2019 4:42 am

First, understand that rent stabilized (RS) status is not up to the LL (or to the tenant). It is based on a number of facts and the law. Either the courts or DHCR have the authority to make the determination.

Normally, for a unit to be subject to rent stabilization, it

- must be in a building constructed prior to 1974 (you say 1930's)
- must be in a building with 6 or more units (or previously had 6+ units) (you say 115 units)
- not be coop or condo
- cannot have been legally deregulated

There are exceptions to these general requirements. But a lease that says "This unit is not subject to RS" does not make it so.

First, what is with the preferential rent (PR)? There is no such thing in unregulated apartments. PR only exists to be a discount from a RS legal rent. So that's nonsense. But tenants believe that stuff so they think they're getting a deal.

Riders ... yes, these are for use for RS units.

You say the LL claimed you were not RS when you moved in. How? Was it in the lease? What did it actually say?

Rent History ... OK, you got it from DHCR. Does it go back to 1984? If not, request it again and ask for everything back to 1984.

That what you have says it is RS, that helps your position, but like everything else, there might be more. Was the unit registered every year since 1984, or did it stop at a particular point? Lack of registration at a certain point might indicate when a LL started claiming it was no longer RS, or had reached the high rent threshold. It might be legit, but many are not.

You say it never reached a rent of $2,774.76. But understand the trigger rent level for deregulation was less at various points in time, going back to $2,000 in 1997. See https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documen ... eshold.pdf

You say no J51 or 421a. What is your source on that?

The 90-150 day service of a renewal offer is ... you guessed it ... part of RS rules. But nothing stops a LL from offering a non-RS renewal at any time.

Lack of a Cert. of Occupancy is irrelevant in RS status.

As for the new laws, well they are still being interpreted and debated, by both sides.

I would start at the bottom rather than the top. Do a rent analysis going back to 1984 up to the point when the last entry was made with a registration. Apply all RGB inclreases year after year. The DHCR rent history should indicate if there were any MCI or IAI increases.

Understand that the statute of limitations (SOL) is now six years (not four), but that is for calculation of an overcharge only, not your RS status. There is no SOL on status. If it's determined that the unit is still RS, then there should be a rent calculation (but any overcharge award is limited to the six years). Applying the new rules for PR rents would, in my opinion, really only apply if there was a legitimate pref rent used to discount a legitimate legal rent. You're not at that point yet.

If you are RS, you have the right to either a 1 or 2 year renewal on the same terms and conditions as the expiring lease. It must be offered on DHCR form RTP-8 (the latest version).

Your remedy. Well you can go to court. It can be quicker and might be less pro-landlord depending on what judge you get, but unless you have a lot of experience, it can also be expensive if you need a lawyer. In the courts, you can wait until the LL sues you with a Holdover in Housing Court, or be proactive and file in Supreme Court. There are pros and cons to both approaches and we can't go through all that. But ask a lawyer.

You can also file with DHCR. As many say (including us), DHCR can be very pro-landlord and it can take years. But you don't have to shell out thousands for a lawyer (at least until any DHCR decision is appealed in court). And yes, there are times DHCR will do the right thing.

It seems you've done the right research. Let me suggest this.

1. Get a legal consultation with a tenant attorney (not some lawyer that does immigration or ambulance chasing). We are not attorneys. Some law firms will offer free or low-cost consultations. And some places around town offer clinics on a weekly or monthly basis where you can get a consultation.

2. Write the LL a letter (always best if certified RRR). Explain that your intent is to renew year lease, but you believe the unit is (and should be) rent stabilized, so ask for a RS renewal lease offering a 2-year option. I would do this after you get a legal consultation.

3. Some might suggest that you do not write a letter. That depends whether your LL is aggressive or overly-litigious. Some say to just go ahead and file with DHCR and surprise the landlord. It's hard to say which approach is best.

4. If you've decided to not go to the courts, then you can file with DHCR. If you do file with DHCR, in my experience, if the LL takes you to court claiming the unit is not RS, then your defense would be there is an active RS status case pending before DHCR and the courts should defer to the agency.
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Re: Rent Stabilization & Preferential Information Validation

Postby pnpboi » Thu Sep 26, 2019 5:19 pm

You say the LL claimed you were not RS when you moved in. How? Was it in the lease? What did it actually say?

Verbally at the lease signing, nothing in the lease explicitly says its not


OK that means nothing.

Was the unit registered every year since 1984, or did it stop at a particular point? Lack of registration at a certain point might indicate when a LL started claiming it was no longer RS, or had reached the high rent threshold. It might be legit, but many are not./quote]

- 1988 (RS) was missing,
- 2004 was vacant,
- 2008 - 2011 no reg was found,
- 2014 was vacant,
- 2017 and 2018 were both vacant

Every tenant on this rent history including the most recent ones (2015 & 2016) were all coded RS


So it seems that 2008-2018 are the problem years. I wouldn't dwell on the others (however, if you file with DHCR, do mention those. What you didn't tell us was the rents for each year. Was there a big jump somewhere?

For the years you say were vacant, was there registrations, or not? You say there was no reg. for 2018, but then you say 2018 was vacant.

But the rents are just as important in an analysis. Is the rent you paid when you took occupancy in line with normal RGB increases from 2008?

You say it never reached a rent of $2,774.76. But understand the trigger rent level for deregulation was less at various points in time, going back to $2,000 in 1997. See https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documen ... eshold.pdf

I have reviewed the rent history from the DHCR and confirmed that the rent never hit any of the deregulated amounts during their related years.


Try to see if there was a way for the rent to jump, i.e., with MCIs or IAIs. The LL will claim it was high rent deregulated, so see if that is even possible.

2. Write the LL a letter (always best if certified RRR). Explain that your intent is to renew year lease, but you believe the unit is (and should be) rent stabilized, so ask for a RS renewal lease offering a 2-year option. I would do this after you get a legal consultation.

In your opinion does email communication hold up in court (If we go that route)


For something like this, send hard copy, certified, return receipt requested. Anything to do with a lease, do this. You can also send it by email, but seriously, do the certified as well.

1. Get a legal consultation with a tenant attorney (not some lawyer that does immigration or ambulance chasing). We are not attorneys. Some law firms will offer free or low-cost consultations. And some places around town offer clinics on a weekly or monthly basis where you can get a consultation.


I have contacted a few firms and am awaiting a reply.


A number of firms advertise on this site (and help keep us alive). These are mostly tenant attorneys, not general purpose lawyers.
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Re: Rent Stabilization & Preferential Information Validation

Postby pnpboi » Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:12 pm

Was there a big jump somewhere?

There were 2 times in the DHCR history where the rent had a "Big Jump"

- When the tenant from 1985 - 1999 moved out rent jumped about $300. No notes for why.

- From 2013 - 2015, 2013 the legal rent increased by about $300. Please refer to the section below, answering your 3rd question.

For the years you say were vacant, was there registrations, or not? You say there was no reg. for 2018, but then you say 2018 was vacant.

- 2004, 2014, 2017 and 2018 were all coded Vacant, and had a registration with the legal amounts at the time, (not sure if correct legal amounts though)

But the rents are just as important in an analysis. Is the rent you paid when you took occupancy in line with normal RGB increases from 2008?


All of the following are based off of the 1 year lease/renewal % from this RGB history chart, https://www.quora.com/Where-can-I-find- ... es-for-NYC

- No data from 2008 - 2011. Just noting that the legal rent difference from 2007 and 2012 was only a increase of 2.25%

- 2013 Reg Year - Was correct, a 3.75% increase from 2012 legal rent (same tenants as previous year) (Order #43)

- 2014 Reg Year - The legal rent stayed the same but the apartment was vacant.

- 2015 Reg Year - The legal rent jumped about $300 which was not inline with the RGB for that year which was 4%. There was an improvement noted though, so that could be why. Did not hit the deregulation amount of $2,500 for that year. (new tenants moved in) (Order #45)

- 2016 Reg Year - The legal rent stayed the same as 2015, but it should of increased by 1% (same tenants as previous year) (Order #46 )

- 2017 and 2018 Reg Year - It was Vacant but held the same legal rent since 2015, was inline with the RGB if they were to have a tenant, 0%. (Order #47 & #48, Order #49 does not seem to apply to anything)

- 2019 Reg Year - (When I moved in, 12/15/19) Legal rent should of only increased 1.5% from the previous year, but it was increased by 5%. Can't find anything online about being allowed to increase the rent if there was no tenants in the last 2 years. (Order #50)

Try to see if there was a way for the rent to jump, i.e., with MCIs or IAIs. The LL will claim it was high rent deregulation, so see if that is even possible.

The following years had MCI listed on their registration and the increase to the following years legal went was only about $15-$25.
1994, 1995, 2002.

The following years had Improvement listed on their registration, which I assume means/is IAI related.
1984 & 2015 and there was no change in legal rent.

I also looked through the buildings job filling history (Jobs/Filings/ARA/LAA) on NYC DOB. There was no IAI for my apartment listed. There was a few applicable MCI improvements for the building such as boiler, gas line, fire suppression related jobs.



Thank you again for your time.
Last edited by pnpboi on Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rent Stabilization & Preferential Information Validation

Postby TenantNet » Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:18 am

It does seem there are sufficient irregularities to warrant a complaint with DHCR. These days DHCR is allowed to look back six years instead of four years, While there are look-back limitations for overcharges, there are no limitations to consider stabilization status. So I would go for it.
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Re: Rent Stabilization & Preferential Information Validation

Postby pnpboi » Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:30 am

Will be asking the lawyer during my consultation this same question.

But regardless of my apartment status being RS or not. ASSUMING it's NOT up to the landlord to interpret the new law regarding preferential rent. Am I correct to say that my rent for renewal should of been based off of my preferential rent and not the legal amount offered in my original lease? (Fact Sheet 40)
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Re: Rent Stabilization & Preferential Information Validation

Postby TenantNet » Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:45 am

Getting the RS status is the first step, obviously.

It's up to the courts or DHCR to interpret the law. But litigants (you and the LL) can advance your own views during litigation.

I would go with what the Fact Sheet says. " Rent Guidelines Board increases and other increases allowed by the Rent Stabilization Law or Emergency Tenant Protection Act are to be applied to the preferential rent."

Of course parts of the new law are being debated (and the law itself is being challenged in court).

And part of getting RS status is to determine what the legal rent should be (not necessarily an overcharge, but the level of rent).
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Re: Rent Stabilization & Preferential Information Validation

Postby BubbaJoe123 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:53 pm

pnpboi wrote:
- When the tenant from 1985 - 1999 moved out rent jumped about $300. No notes for why.


One thing to keep in mind is that there used to be a sizable vacancy increase of around 20%, plus an extra increase if the prior tenant had been there more than eight years. Could have been around 28%.
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Re: Rent Stabilization & Preferential Information Validation

Postby pnpboi » Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:06 pm

I wanted to say thank you all for your help. I was successful in proving that my apartment was RS. I'm now awaiting my landlords response about my rent in regards to it being based off of the preferential amount.

I understand its a subjective decision at the moment, but if I were to go ahead and sign the renewal lease based off the legal amount. Could I submit this claim to the DHCR as a rent overcharge?
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Re: Rent Stabilization & Preferential Information Validation

Postby TenantNet » Mon Oct 07, 2019 11:34 pm

What do you mean successful? Was there a decision by a court or by DHCR? What do you mean you await the LL's response? I thought you were not in a proceeding. Or is this just informal? Has the LL offered a RS lease? On the proper form RTP-8? Fill us in where things actually stand, please.
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Re: Rent Stabilization & Preferential Information Validation

Postby pnpboi » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:48 pm

What do you mean successful? Was there a decision by a court or by DHCR? What do you mean you await the LL's response? I thought you were not in a proceeding. Or is this just informal? Has the LL offered a RS lease? On the proper form RTP-8? Fill us in where things actually stand, please.


cliff notes version

I proceeded as you and a few others advise, I had consultations with 3 different lawyers. All agreed from what information I had that I most likely had a RS apartment. All said something similar, that they don't understand whats he's trying to do and is being quite questionable and dishonest.

2/3 advised me to contact the LL and sternly but professionally mentioned that I plan on renewing and would like the correct renewal documents for a RS apartment. The lawyers mentioned if the LL refuses, they will contact the LL on my behalf (after I retain them of course).

LL contacted me back a few days later claiming it was a mistake and the wrong form was generated. Said he will get it sorted and send me a new one asap. He mentioned nothing about my statement regarding preferential rent. I sent him a follow up email regarding PR so we would be on the same page about it, but no reply yet and that's where i'm currently at. Hopefully he replies soon and doesn't challenge the new PR law.

If he does challenge the PR, i'm most likely going to retain one of the lawyers to contact the LL on my behalf. If the LL is still stubborn about it, I won't be taking this to litigation unless the law becomes more set in stone (also, I can't afford it). I will most likely go the long and cheap route of filing an DHCR Overcharge form.
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Re: Rent Stabilization & Preferential Information Validation

Postby TenantNet » Sat Oct 12, 2019 6:40 am

Sorry for the delay, having tech problems.

I hope the lawyers were real tenant attorneys, not ambulance chasers. And of course you realize they are seeking clients. That is how they pay their rent.

There are times to contact the LL and try to work things out; there are times when that is not a good idea up front. It depends on a number of factors including how litigious the LL is, if the LL is deceitful or evasive, and so on. It's a judgment call and based on experience.

There are times it is good to tell the LL up front of your "intent to renew." Judges seem to like that. And you can often show your good faith by asking for corrected documents. When you write letters to LLs, often remember you are writing for a judge to read it later on. Appear reasonable.

If a lawyer contacts the LL, after you, that can add weight to a situation and sends a message that you are serious. Those letters are effective with small landlords, not the big guys who have their own legal departments.

So it seems you convinced the LL he was in the wrong. (that's just a good argument, not "proof" of anything). OTOH, he's being selective, obviously. And you were correct to follow-up with him.

"Challenge" the PR? How? Think things through as to how a challenge would work, who makes the challenge, and in what venue, DHCR or the courts.

Here's one thought... the initial PR must be on a RS lease for a RS unit. (actually PR only exists for RS units ... there is no such thing as a PR for unregulated units; there are discounts, but calling it PR is misleading for a legit unregulated unit). When a LL claims there is a "legal rent" for a unit they also claim is not RS, then that makes no sense at all. There is no legal rent (or regulated rent) for a unit that is outside of regulation. So it depends on how your lease was drawn up.

One way would be to refuse to sign a lease you feel is incorrect and the LL could commence a holdover proceeding in housing court.

Another way would be for you to file with DHCR. That might preclude a court proceeding while the DHCR case was active.

So for the LL to "challenge" the PR, or for you to do that, well it has to be seen in the context of whatever legal action occurs. You bring a case, the LL offers a defense that the PR is valid. Or he brings a case and your defense is that the PR is not valid.

As lawyers cost money, don't jump the gun until you need one. And yes, watch the ongoing litigation on the new rent laws.
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