2015 saw marked changes in New York’s rent regulation laws. Although many landlords hoped The Rent Act of 2015 would simply be an extension of the then-current laws, legislators took this opportunity to strengthen tenant protections. The Rent Act of 2015 extends current rent laws for four more years, through June 2019, and included a few major changes.
New provisions affecting rent regulation
- Raised the amount of rent at which an apartment can be deregulated. Also known as Luxury Decontrol, this provision increases the amount of rent at which an apartment can be deregulated from $2,500 to $2,700/mo. This means that apartments that rent for less than $2,700 per month are still protected by rent regulations.
- Tenants of de-regulated apartments lose their rights to renewal leases at fixed rates of increase. Upon lease expiration of de-regulated apartments, landlords can raise the rent to market prices. If the tenant does not want to pay that price, they would have to vacate the unit.
- Major Capital Improvement (MCI) calculations. MCI rent increases are now amortized over 8 years for buildings with 35 or fewer units and to 9 years for buildings with more than 35 units. This is up from the previous 7-year amortization rate. However, the Act does not affect individual apartment improvements, which are amortized over a period of 40 or 60 months.
- Buyout protections. Landlords cannot make repeated buyout offers within a 6-month period if the tenant has already explicitly refused a prior offer. Landlords must also inform tenants of the following rights during any buyout offer: the right to stay in their apartment, the right to seek an attorney’s advice, and the right to decline any future contact on a buyout offer for 180 days.
- Increased harassment fines. Landlords can already be fined up to $10,000 for harassing tenants to move out or accept a buyout offer. It is also illegal for landlords to threaten a tenant, contact the tenant at odd hours, or provide false information to a tenant in relation to a buyout offer.
- Caps on vacancy lease rent increases. If the outgoing tenant was paying a preferential rate, vacancy lease rent increases are limited to 5% if the last vacancy lease commenced less than two years ago. Rent increases are limited to 10% if the last vacancy lease commenced less than three years ago. Rent increases are limited to 15% if the last vacancy lease commenced less than four years ago. Rent increases are limited to 20% if the last vacancy lease commenced four or more years ago. This is a change from the standard 20% vacancy rate increase for two-year leases. If the outgoing tenant was not paying a preferential rate, the rules are unchanged.
Seeking assistance on complex rent rules
Rent guidelines and rent regulation are extremely complex. Changes to rules and procedures usually don’t make things any clearer and can be confusing to tenants and landlords alike. Some areas of the law clearly benefit landlords, others benefit tenants. Some landlords really do try to adhere to the rules of the law and manage their properties well, but are dealing with difficult tenants. On the flip side, there are good tenants who don’t realize they have rights and protections against harassing landlords.
The best course of action in any rental situation that you do not understand or are struggling with is to seek the advice of legal counsel. An experienced landlord-tenant law attorney can provide valuable insight and advice into your situation and give you a list of options or steps you can take to assert or protect your rights.
Contact NYC’s Brasch Legal for help navigating the new rent guidelines
If you are having trouble understanding rent guidelines or want legal advice because you think rent regulations affect your situation, contact the attorneys at Brasch Legal at 212-267-2500. We work with both tenants and landlords to ensure their legal rights are protected.
We represent tenants in the following matters:
- Rent increases
- Succession rights
- Non-primary residence proceedings
- Owner-user proceedings
- Lease buyouts
- Sublet and roommate proceedings
- Alteration proceedings
- Nuisance proceedings
- Rent overcharges
- Civil litigation of Landlord-Tenant disputes
We represent residential landlords in:
- Nonpayment or late payment of rent
- Illegal subletting
- Nonprimary residence
- Unauthorized alteration