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Glossary Definitions Of Rent Regulation Terms

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
It is important to note that this glossary is not intended as a substitute for the definitions, interpretations, etc., contained in the respective rent regulatory statutes, codes, and regulations themselves, or any administrative or court decision construing such statutes, codes, and regulations, or any order of the New York City or County Rent Guidelines Boards.

A
Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM):
Similar to a variable rate mortgage except that interest rate adjustments are capped in order to protect lenders and borrowers from sudden upturns or downturns in a market index.

Affordable Housing: As defined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, any housing accommodation for which a tenant household pays 30% or less of its income for shelter.

Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC): A defunct income assistance program designed to help parents with dependent children. In 1997, there were over 700,000 recipients in New York City (see "Temporary Assistance to Needy Families").

Alternative Hardship Increase: See "Hardship."

Ancillary Services: In New York City, rent stabilization services which are not contained within the individual housing accommodation which may include, but are not limited to; garage facilities, laundry facilities, recreational facilities, and security. If these services were provided by the owner on the base date, or were provided or required by law to be provided thereafter, the owner must continue to maintain them.
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Annual Registration: See "Registration."

Apartment Services Registration: See "Registration."

Article 78 Proceeding: An action commenced in Supreme Court (the basic New York trial level court), to review a governmental act already taken, such as the determination of a case or, to compel or stop an action by the government from taking place. If requesting review, it must be brought within sixty days of final DHCR action. It is named after an article of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.

Assignments: The transfer of a tenant's legal interest (the lease) in an apartment to another person. Unless specified in the lease, a tenant may not assign his/her lease without written consent of the owner. Owner's consent may be unconditionally withheld without cause. However, an owner who unreasonably refuses to grant permission to assign the lease, must release the tenant from the lease upon request of the tenant upon 30 days notice. If the owner reasonably withholds consent, the lease may not be assigned and the tenant will not be released from the lease.

A lease assignment conveys to another person all of the tenant's rights to occupy the apartment, whereas a sublet contemplates a temporary absence by the prime tenant with full intent to return to the apartment.
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B
Balloon Loan:
A type of loan that is partially amortized, which means that principal is partially paid throughout the term of the loan. At maturity, the borrower still has a substantial sum (balloon) that must be repaid or refinanced.

Base Dates: The date upon which a unit becomes subject to rent regulation and the date which determines the "base" for determining what services the owner must provide and what the lawful rent is.

  • The base date for essential services for apartments subject to rent control inside New York City is April 30, 1962.
  • The base date for essential services for apartments subject to rent control elsewhere in New York State is March 1,1950.
  • The base date for required building-wide and individual services for housing accommodations subject to the Rent Stabilization Law on June 30, 1974 is May 31, 1968.
  • The base date for housing accommodations subject to the Rent Stabilization Law on June 30, 1971, and exempted thereafter as a result of a vacancy prior to June 30, 1974, is: for building wide services, May 31,1968, for individual dwelling unit services, May 29,1974.
  • The base date for housing accommodations which became subject to the Rent Stabilization Law on or after July 1, 1974 pursuant to the Emergency Tenant Protection Act is May 29, 1974.

Building Services Registration: See "Registration."
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C
Certificate of Occupancy:
A certificate of occupancy is a copy of a document issued by a municipality that authorizes the use of a building for a particular purpose. Typically, a certificate of occupancy, in addition to the name of the municipality and the date of its issuance (or amendments), will state the following information: *A street address for the premises; *The tax block and lot number; *A modified description, which should be compared with the survey and/or survey reading.

Civil Practice Laws and Rules (CPLR): An act in relation to civil practice and prescribing rules of civil procedure governing generally the civil procedure in the courts of the state of New York and before the judges thereof, constituting chapter eight of the consolidated laws; became effective April 4, 1962.

Class A Multiple Dwelling: As defined under the Multiple Dwelling Law, a multiple dwelling building which is generally occupied as a permanent residence. The class includes such buildings as apartment houses, apartment hotels, maisonette apartments, and all other multiple dwellings except Class B dwellings.

Class B Multiple Dwelling: A multiple dwelling which is occupied, as a rule, transiently, as the more or less temporary abode of individuals or families. This class includes such buildings as hotels, lodging houses, rooming houses, boarding schools, furnished room houses, college and school dormitories.

Comparative Hardship Increase: See "Hardship."

Complaint: The initial filing in a tenant-initiated proceeding.

Compliance: Owners are required to adhere to orders issued by DHCR. Orders of the Office of Rent Administration (ORA) are enforced by the ORA's Compliance Unit.

Concession: An agreement between owner and tenant, whereby the tenant is allowed to pay a lower rent than would otherwise be lawful for a limited time but not for the whole term of the lease.
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Conciliation and Appeals Board (CAB): See "New York City Conciliation and Appeals Board (CAB)"

Conditional Rental: A rental agreement that contains various prerequisites or qualifications. Clauses in leases for regulated apartments which condition rental on such things as requiring the prospective tenant to agree not to use the apartment as a primary residence; to only use it for commercial occupancy; or to purchase furniture or other personal properly; are illegal.

Condominium (Condo): A form of property ownership in which units are individually owned and the owners acquire shares in an association that owns and cares for common areas.

Cooperative (Co-op): A form of property ownership in which a building or complex is owned by a corporation. Shares in the corporation are allocated per apartment and the owners of those shares, who are called proprietary lessees, may either live in the apartment for which the shares are allocated or rent that apartment to a subtenant.

Core Manhattan: The area of Manhattan south of 96th Street on the East Side and 110th Street on the West Side. See also "Upper Manhattan."

Cross-sectional: The type of analysis that provides a "snapshot" view of data as it appears in a singular moment or period of time.
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D
Debt Service:
Repayment of loan principal and interest; the projected debt service is the determining factor in setting the amount of the loan itself.

Debt Service Ratio: The net operating income divided by the debt service; it measures a borrower’s ability to cover mortgage payments using a building’s net operating income.

Decontrol: See "Deregulation."

Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD): The New York City agency with primary responsibility for promulgating and enforcing housing policy and laws in the City. (See also DHCR.)

Deregulation: Deregulation occurs by action of the owner when an apartment under either rent control or rent stabilization legally meets the criteria for leaving regulation. When an apartment is deregulated, the rent may be set at ‘market rate.’ There are two types of deregulation, High-Income/High-Rent Deregulation and High-Rent/Vacancy Deregulation.

Destabilization: See "Deregulation."
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DHCR: See "Division of Housing & Community Renewal."

Disabled Persons: Eligible disabled persons are tenants and/or spouses of tenants who have an impairment resulting from anatomical, physiological or psychological conditions, demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques, which is expected to be permanent and prevent the person from engaging in any substantial, gainful employment. See also "Succession Rights" and Disabled Persons' Special Rights below.

Disabled Persons’ Special Rights: The law grants certain protections for disabled tenants, which include the right to refuse to purchase their apartments in a building under a Cooperative or Condominium Eviction Plan. In addition, an owner cannot evict a disabled tenant or the spouse of a disabled tenant from a rent stabilized apartment in New York City for the purpose of owner occupancy unless the owner provides an equivalent or superior apartment at the same or lower stabilized rent in an area near the tenant's present apartment. Also an owner cannot evict a disabled tenant from a rent stabilized apartment outside New York City or any rent controlled apartment statewide for purposes of owner occupancy. See also Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) Program below.

Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) Program: A program which freezes the rent of a New York City tenant or tenant's spouse who is disabled (defined as receiving either Federal Supplemental Security Income, Federal Social Security Disability Insurance, US Department of Veterans Affairs disability pension or compensation, or Disability-related Medicaid) and living in a rent regulated apartment. To currently qualify for this benefit, a household must make no more than a certain rent threshold, as well as paying at least 1/3 of their income toward their rent. Program details available on the NYC Dept. of Finance website.

Discount Rate: The interest rate Federal Reserve Banks charge for loans to depository institutions.

Distressed Buildings: Buildings that have operating and maintenance expenses greater than gross income are considered distressed.

Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR): The New York State agency, part of NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), with primary responsibility for formulating New York State housing policy, as well as monitoring and enforcing the provisions of the state’s residential rent regulation laws.
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E
Electrical Inclusion Adjustment:
An adjustment to the Legal Regulated Rent promulgated by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board for housing accommodations in which the rent includes electrical service. These adjustments were promulgated between 1974 and 1984.

Electrical Inclusion Building: A building where the electrical charge is included in the rent and tenants do not pay their electrical charge directly to the public utility.

Electrical Exclusion Building: A building where tenants pay their electrical charge directly to the public utility. This charge is not included in the rent.

Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974 (ETPA): Chapter 576 Laws of 1974: In Nassau, Rockland and Westchester counties, rent stabilization applies to non-rent controlled apartments in buildings of six or more units built before January 1, 1974 in localities that have declared an emergency and adopted ETPA. In order for rents to be placed under regulation, there has to be a rental vacancy rate of less than 5% for all or any class or classes of rental housing accommodations. Some municipalities limit ETPA to buildings of a specific size, for instance, buildings with 20 or more units. Each municipality declaring an emergency and adopting local legislation pays the cost of administering ETPA (in either Nassau, Rockland or Westchester County). In turn, each municipality can charge the owners of subject housing accommodations a fee (up to $10 per unit per year).

Escalator Clause: A clause specifying a certain increase in rent by amount or percentage, per year. These increases may not be included in leases commencing on or after April 1, 1984, where the effect would be to raise the rent charged above the legal regulated rent, except in certain specified circumstances, such as the annual 2.2 percent increase provided in leases for units built under Sec. 421-a.

Essential Services: Under rent control, the owner must provide and maintain all services furnished or required to be furnished on the base date. These services are called essential services and may include, but are not limited to: repairs, decorating and maintenance, the furnishing of light, heat, hot and cold water, elevator service, kitchen, bath and laundry facilities and privileges, janitor service, and removal of refuse.

Essential services for apartments can be building-wide, such as heat, hot water, elevator service, and maintenance of public areas of the building. The service may also be something furnished within an individual apartment, such as a refrigerator, stove, air conditioning equipment, or painting.

Eviction: An action by a building owner in a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain possession of a tenant's housing accommodation.
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F
Fair Market Rents:
In New York City, when a tenant voluntarily vacates a rent controlled apartment, the apartment becomes decontrolled. If that apartment is in a building containing six or more units, the apartment becomes rent stabilized. The owner may charge the first stabilized tenant a fair market rent. All future rent increases are subject to limitations under the Rent Stabilization Law, whether the same tenant renews the lease or the apartment is rented to another tenant. The Rent Stabilization Law permits the first stabilized tenant after decontrol to challenge the first rent charged after decontrol, through a Fair Market Rent Appeal (FMRA), if the tenant believes that the rent set by the owner exceeds the fair market rent for the apartment. The Appeal is decided taking into consideration the Fair Market Rent Special Guideline and rents for comparable apartments. A FMRA must be filed within 90 days after the tenant receives the initial apartment registration.

Fair Market Rent Special Guideline: The percentage increase above the prior rent controlled tenant’s Maximum Base Rent (MBR) or Maximum Collectible Rent (MCR). This is determined each year by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board as applicable to the determination of Fair Market Rent Appeals.

Family Assistance Program (FAP): New York State’s TANF program. See "Temporary Assistance to Needy Families."

Family Member: See definition under "Succession Rights".

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC): Established by the federal government in 1950 to insure the deposits of member banks and savings associations.

Federal Reserve Board: The central bank of the United States founded by Congress in 1913 to provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system.
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Federal Funds Rate: Set by the Federal Reserve, this is the rate banks charge each other for overnight loans.

Fees, Administrative: The Rent Stabilization Law (RSL) and the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA) permit municipalities to charge a fee to owners of housing accommodations subject to the RSL or ETPA. The fee is paid directly to the municipality (in New York City, to the Department of Finance). DHCR receives payment from the municipalities to defray the cost of administering these laws.

All apartments covered by the RSL and ETPA, including temporarily exempt apartments (see definition), are subject to the fee. Only housing accommodations which are permanently exempt (see definition) from the RSL and ETPA are exempt from this fee.

Fees, Attorney’s: A lease provision which provides that owners are entitled to recover reasonable attorneys' fees from tenants when they successfully sue the tenant concerning terms of the lease. If there is such a clause in the lease, the owner will be required to pay the tenant’s attorney's fees if the tenant is successful in defending the owner's court action.

Fees, Brokerage: A commission charged for the service of helping to find an apartment for a prospective tenant. The amount of the commission, usually a percentage of the first year's rent, is not set by law and is negotiated between the parties. The broker must assist the tenant in finding and obtaining an apartment before the commission is charged. The fee is illegal if in connection with the renting of a stabilized apartment, if it is paid to the owner or an associate, agent or employee of the owner.

Fees, Late: A lease provision providing for an additional reasonable payment when the rent is tendered after a specified date.
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Final Order: A final order is an order of a Rent Administrator, not timely and properly appealed to the Commissioner pursuant to regulations for filing a PAR, or an order of the Commissioner. An order is final as of the date of its issuance by the Rent Administrator, unless a petition for administrative review (PAR) is filed against such order. Despite the filing of a PAR by either the owner or the tenant, an order adjusting, fixing or establishing a maximum or legal regulated rent shall continue to remain in effect until further order. An order, or provision of an order, other than one adjusting, fixing or establishing a maximum or legal regulated rent is automatically stayed upon the filing of a PAR, but the Commissioner may issue a specific order granting or revoking a stay.

First Rent: The owner of a stabilized housing accommodation may be entitled to charge a market rent when first renting the apartment after performing qualifying rehabilitation and alteration to an apartment. Subsequent rents are subject to guideline increases. "First Rents" will be granted when a housing accommodation has been created which can be said not to have existed on the "base date." Examples where first rents apply are: where one apartment has been divided into two; two apartments have been combined into one; or a bedroom from another apartment has been added on to the subject apartment. Rearranging walls within the original apartment does not constitute a rehabilitation qualifying for a "first rent". First Rents are also applicable to newly created apartments, such as one created from open space where a previously temporarily occupied apartment such as one which was owner occupied or commercial in nature is rented for the first time to a residential tenant after a prolonged period of exempt occupancy.

Fixed Rate Mortgage (FRM): The interest rate is constant for the term of a mortgage.

421-a Tax Incentive Program: Created in 1970. Offers tax exemptions to qualifying new multifamily properties containing three or more rental units. Apartments built with 421-a tax exemptions are subject to the provisions of the Rent Stabilization Laws during the exemption period. Thus, 421-a tenants share the same tenancy protections as stabilized tenants and initial rents approved by HPD are then confined to increases established by the Rent Guidelines Board.

Fractional Terms: Under rent stabilization, any lease or tenancy for a period up to and including one year shall be deemed a one year lease or tenancy, and a period over one year and up to and including two years shall be deemed a two year lease. Under ETPA, where the tenant vacates prior to the expiration of the lease, the base for computing the rent adjustment for the new tenant is set by adjusting the prior lease rent to the maximum rent that would be permissible, if the last lease with the prior tenant had been for a term ending on the date such prior tenant vacated the housing accommodation.

Fuel Cost Adjustment: The New York City Rent Control Law allows separate adjustments based on the changes, up or down, in the price of various types of heating fuels. The adjustment will be based on fuel price changes between the beginning and end of the prior year. Only tenants in rent controlled apartments located in New York City are subject to this fuel cost adjustment. Early rent stabilized New York City Rent Guidelines Board orders also contained supplementary guidelines adjustments denominating fuel cost adjustments.
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G
Garden-Type Maisonette Dwelling Complex:
Such complexes may consist of attached, detached, or semi-attached dwelling units, containing six or more housing accommodations having common facilities such as a sewer line, water main, or heating plant and operated as a unit under common ownership. They are subject to regulation even though Certificates of Occupancy were issued for portions of the complex as one- or two-family dwellings.

Gross City Product (GCP): The dollar measurement of the total citywide production of goods and services in a given year.

Guidelines Rent Increases: The percentage increase of the Legal Regulated Rent that is allowed when a new or renewal lease is signed. This percentage is determined by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board for renewal leases signed between October 1 of the current year and September 30 of the following year. The percentage increase allowed is dependent on the term of the lease and whether the lease is a renewal or vacancy lease (also see ‘Vacancy Allowance’).

Although the RGB customarily set increases for vacancy leases, it has not done so since the passage of the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1997, which established statutory vacancy increases. Sometimes additional factors such as the amount of the rent, whether or not electricity is included in the rent and the past rental history have also resulted in varying adjustments.
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H
Harassment:
A course of action by an owner intended to cause tenants to vacate their apartments or to give up rights granted them by the rent laws and regulations.
An owner, or anyone acting for the owner, may not interfere with the tenant's privacy, comfort, or quiet enjoyment of the apartment. Interference includes intentionally reducing services or engaging in baseless court proceedings.

Hardship: Rent increase provisions under rent control and rent stabilization that allow an owner to apply for an additional rental increase to enable the owner to either meet a property's cash flow requirements or to receive a minimum net financial return. When owners are unable to earn a fair return" from their properties because of administratively imposed restrictions on rent levels, these provisions are intended to provide economic relief.

Hardship, Alternative: A rent adjustment provision provided to owners of rent stabilized buildings, not owned as cooperatives or condominiums, who, as determined by DHCR, are not receiving a total annual gross income that exceeds total annual operating expenses by a sum equal to at least five percent of the annual gross rent income.

Hardship, Comparative: A rent adjustment provision provided to owners of rent stabilized buildings, who, as determined by DHCR, are receiving insufficient average annual net income over a three-year period as compared to a previous three year period. For New York City, criteria include requirements that the net income is below the 1968-1970 (or a subsequent 3 year test period) level and that the owner is not now receiving an 8.5% return on that portion of the fair market value of the property that exceeds the unpaid principal amount of the mortgage indebtedness.
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Hardship, Rent Control: In New York City, a rent adjustment provision provided to owners of rent controlled buildings, who, as determined by DHCR, are not receiving a total annual gross income that exceeds operating and maintenance expenses and a return of 8.5% of the current assessed value multiplied by the current equalization ratio. Outside of New York City a rent adjustment provision provided to owners of rent controlled buildings, who, as determined by DHCR, are not receiving a total annual gross income that exceeds operating and maintenance expenses and a return of 7.5% of property valuation defined as the current assessed value adjusted by the 1954 equalization rate.

Heat and Hot Water Services: By law, building owners must provide New York City multiple dwelling tenants with the following levels of heat and hot water (with similar standards for municipalities outside New York City):

  • Heat must be provided from October 1 through May 31:
  • Between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. heat must register 68 degrees Fahrenheit when the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees;
  • Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. heat must register 55 degrees Fahrenheit when the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees;
  • Hot water must be provided 24 hours a day for every day of the year, and must register at or above a constant temperature of 120 degrees at the tap.

High-Rent/High-Income Deregulation: High-Income High-Rent Decontrol was first instituted with the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1993, which deregulated, upon expiration of the stabilized tenant's lease, units for which the lawful regulated rent is $2,000 per month or more as of October 1, 1993, and for which the total Federal Adjusted Gross Income of all of the tenants occupying the apartment as primary residents on other than a temporary basis was in excess of $250,000 in each of the two calendar years preceding the owner's application for deregulation. In 1994, New York City allowed for the deregulation of apartments that rent for $2,000 or more after October 1, 1993. In 1997, the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1997 lowered the income threshold to $175,000. In 2011, the Rent Act of 2011 raised the rent threshold to $2,500 and the income threshold to $200,000.

Effective with the passage of the Rent Act of 2015, the rent threshold for high-rent vacancy deregulation and high income high-rent deregulation was raised from $2,500 to $2,700. The threshold will be adjusted January 1, 2016 and annually thereafter by the one year renewal lease guideline percentage increase issued the prior year by the Rent Guidelines Board for the locality. For more information on how the Rent Act of 2015 changes procedures for deregulation, please contact the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), the agency that regulates rent stabilized apartments in NYC, or visit their website. Also see "Vacancy Deregulation."

High-Rent Vacancy Deregulation: See "Vacancy Deregulation."
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Holdover Tenant: A tenant who has stayed in occupancy past the expiration of the lease or past the time to quit the premises specified by statute, administrative decision, or court decision.

Home Relief: See "Safety Net Assistance."

Horizontal Multiple Dwelling: A dwelling complex, which may consist of attached, detached, or semi-attached dwelling units, containing six or more housing accommodations having common facilities such as a sewer line, water main, or heating plant and operated as a unit under common ownership. These units are generally subject to regulation even though Certificates of Occupancy were issued for portions of the complex as one- or two-family dwellings.

Hotel: Under rent stabilization, a multiple dwelling that provides all of the following services included in the rent:

  1. Maid service, consisting of general house cleaning at a frequency of at least once a week;
  2. Linen service, consisting of providing clean linens at a frequency of at least once a week;
  3. Furniture and furnishings, including at a minimum a bed, lamp, storage facilities for clothing, chair and mirror in a bedroom; such furniture to be maintained by the hotel owner in reasonable condition; and
  4. Lobby staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by at least one employee.

Hotel Occupant: Under rent stabilization, any person residing in a housing accommodation in a hotel who is not a permanent tenant. Such person shall not be considered a tenant for the purposes of the Rent Stabilization Code, but shall be entitled to become a permanent tenant under certain circumstances.
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Hotel Permanent Tenant: Under rent stabilization, for housing accommodations located in hotels, an individual or such individual's family members residing with such individual, who have continuously resided in the same building as a principal residence for a period of at least six months. In addition, a hotel occupant who requests a lease of six months or more, or who is in occupancy pursuant to a lease of six months or more shall be a permanent tenant even if actual occupancy is less than six months.

Under rent control, a tenant, subtenant, lessee, sublessee or other person entitled to possession or to the use or occupancy of any housing accommodation within a hotel, who has resided in such hotel continuously since December 2, 1949.

Housing Accommodation: Under rent stabilization, that part of any building or structure, occupied or intended to be occupied by one or more individuals as a residence, home, dwelling unit or apartment, and all services, privileges, furnishings, furniture and facilities supplied in connection with the occupation thereof. Under rent control and the Emergency Tenant Protection Act, any building or structure, permanent or temporary, or any part thereof, occupied or intended to be occupied by one or more individuals as a residence home, sleeping place, boarding house, lodging house or hotel, together with the land and building appurtenant thereto, and all services, privileges, furnishings, furniture and facilities supplied in connection with the occupation thereof.

Housing Maintenance Code: The code, enforced by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which provides for protection of the health and safety of apartment dwellers by setting standards for the operation, preservation and condition of buildings.

Housing & Vacancy Survey (HVS): A triennial survey of approximately 18,000 households conducted by the United States Census Bureau data. The survey is used, inter alia, to determine the vacancy rate for residential units in New York City, and gather other information necessary for HPD, RGB, DHCR and other housing officials to formulate policy.

HPD: See "Department of Housing Preservation and Development."

HUD: The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is the federal agency primarily responsible for promulgating and enforcing federal housing policy and laws.

HVS: See "Housing and Vacancy Survey."
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I J
I&E: Refers to the annual Income and Expense Study performed by the Rent Guidelines Board drawn from summarized data on RPIE forms, the income and expense statements filed annually by owners of stabilized buildings with the New York City Department of Finance.

Individual Apartment Improvements (IAI): An increase in rent based on increased services, new equipment, or improvements. This increase is a NYS policy and is in addition to the regular annual Rent Guidelines Board increases for rent stabilized apartments and Maximum Base Rent increases for rent controlled apartments.

If owners add new services, improvements, or new equipment to an occupied rent regulated apartment in a building containing 35 or fewer units, owners can add 1/40th or 2.5% of the cost of qualifying improvements to the legal rent of those units excluding finance charges. E.g., (1) if an apartment’s legal rent were $500, and (2) the landlord made $4,000 of qualifying improvements, then (3) the landlord thereafter could add 1/40th of the cost of those improvements–in this example, $100–to the apartment’s existing legal monthly rent for a resulting new legal rent of $600. The 1/40th increase remains permanently in the monthly rent, even after the cost of the improvement is recouped. Owners must get the tenant's written consent to pay the increase and an order from DHCR is not required. If any apartment is vacant, the owner does not have to get written consent of a tenant to make the improvement and pass-on the 1/40th increase.

However, under terms of the Rent Act of 2011, individual apartment improvements completed in buildings with more than 35 apartments allow the landlord to permanently increase the legal regulated rent by 1/60th of the cost of the improvements.

Illusory Sublets: A sublet which occurs when the named prime tenant, does not and usually has never maintained the apartment as a primary residence and the sublet is intended to evade the Rent Laws and deprive the subtenant of his/her nights.

Initial Legal Registered Rent: Under rent stabilization, the lawful rent for the use and occupancy of housing accommodations under the Rent Stabilization Law or the Emergency Tenant Protection Act, as first registered with the DHCR, which has not been challenged pursuant to regulation, or if challenged, has been determined by the DHCR.

Initial Registration: See "Registration".
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Initial Stabilized Lease: The lease with the first rent stabilized tenant of an apartment.

In Rem: In Rem units include those located in structures owned by the City of New York as a result of an in rem proceeding initiated by the City after the owner failed to pay tax on the property for one or more years. Though many of these units in multiple dwellings had previously been subject to either rent control or rent stabilization, they are exempt from both regulatory systems during the period of city ownership.

Interim Lease: A lease for a housing accommodation executed in connection with an agreement to purchase such housing accommodation or the shares allocated thereto pursuant to a valid co-op/condo plan and which terminates tenancy rights upon the co-op/condo closing.

J-51 Program: A program governed by Sections 11-243 and 11-244 of the New York City Administrative Code (formerly numbered J-51) under which, in order to encourage development and rehabilitation, property tax abatements and exemptions are granted. In consideration of receiving these tax abatements and at least for the duration of the abatements, the owner of these buildings agrees to place under rent stabilization those apartments which would not otherwise be subject to rent stabilization (e.g., those in buildings with fewer than 6 apartments or buildings constructed after 12/31/73). This program provides real estate tax exemptions and abatements to existing residential buildings that are renovated or rehabilitated in ways that conform to the requirements of the statute. It also provides these benefits to residential buildings that were converted from commercial structures.
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K L
Key Money: An illegal additional sum above the lawful rent and allowable security deposit for preference in renting a vacant apartment.

Lease: A lease is both a contract and a conveyance of an interest in property which establishes the conditions, rent and terms of tenancy. Possession of the property for a specified period is exchanged for rent. See "Vacancy Lease" and "Renewal Lease."

Lease Rider: A supplement to a lease containing additional terms, conditions or advisements. (See "Rent Stabilization Lease Rider").

Lessee: A person to whom a property is rented under a lease. (See also "Tenant.")

Lessor: One who rents property to another under a lease.

Legal Regulated Rent: The maximum rent level that a landlord is entitled to charge a tenant for a rent regulated unit. The landlord of such a unit must annually register that legal rent with DHCR. Also, the initial legal registered rent as adjusted in accordance with the Rent Stabilization Code, or the rent shown in the annual registration statement filed 4 years prior to the most recent registration statement (or if more recently filed, the initial registration statement), plus in each case, any subsequent lawful increases and adjustments.

Legislature: Refers to the New York State Legislature.
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Loft Board: A New York City agency that regulates lofts. Lofts are governed by Article 7-C of the Multiple Dwelling Law, and are not (until brought up to Code) within DHCR's rent regulatory jurisdiction.

Loan-to-Value Ratio (LTV): An expression of the safety of a mortgage principal based on the value of the collateral (e.g., an LTV of 50% means that a lender is willing to provide a mortgage up to half the value of a building). A decline in LTV may indicate a tightening of lending criteria and vice versa.

Longitudinal: The type of analysis that provides a comparison of identical elements over time, such as comparing data from 2010 to the same data in 2009.

Low Rent Supplement: See "Supplemental Adjustment."

Luxury Deregulation: See "High-Rent/High-Income Deregulation "
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M
Major Capital Improvements (MCI): When owners make improvements or installations to a building subject to the rent stabilization or rent control laws, they may be permitted to increase the building's rent based on the actual, verified cost of the improvement. To be eligible for a rent increase, the MCI must be a new installation and not a repair to old equipment. For example, an owner may receive an MCI increase for a new boiler or a new roof but not for a repaired or rebuilt one. Other building-wide work may qualify as MCls as well, such as "pointing and waterproofing" a complete building where necessary. The Rent Stabilization Code also stipulates that applications for MCI rent increases must be filed within two years of completion of the installation. MCI rent increases must be approved by DHCR.

Maximum Base Rent Program (MBR): The Maximum Base Rent Program is the mechanism for authorizing rent increases for New York City apartments subject to rent control so as to ensure adequate income for their operation and maintenance. New York City Local Law 30 (1970) stipulates that MBR's be established for rent controlled apartments according to a formula calculated to reflect real estate taxes, water and sewer charges, operating and maintenance expenses, return on capital value and vacancy and collection loss allowance. The MBR is updated every two years by a factor that incorporates changes in these operating costs.

Maximum Collectible Rent (MCR): The rent that rent controlled tenants actually pay is called the Maximum Collectible Rent (MCR). The MCR generally is less than the MBR. By law, the MCR cannot be increased by more than 7.5% per year for each year of the two year MBR cycle unless there are Major Capital Improvements or individual apartment rent increases. For example, if a tenant's rent (MCR) on 12/31/01 was $600, and the MBR was $700, then on 1/1/02 (effective date of MBR) the rent (MCR) would rise 7.5% to $645 and the MBR ceiling would rise by 10.5% (the 2002-03 MBR factor) to $773.50. On 1/1/03, the MBR would remain the same (since MBRs cover a two-year period), but the MCR would rise by another 7.5% to $693.38.

Mean and Median: The "mean" is an arithmetic average of numbers. Numbers at the extreme of a range can have a potentially distorting effect on the mean. The "median" is considered by many as a more constant measure of that same set of numbers because it moderates the distorting effect of any extremes or other aberrations, because it is the 50th percentile of the numbers under analysis, or the number in the middle.
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Mitchell-Lama: The New York State Mitchell-Lama Program was created in 1955 as a means of providing affordable rental and cooperative housing to moderate- and middle-income families. New York City and New York State kept rents affordable by providing low-interest mortgages and/or tax exemptions to these buildings. About 269 developments were created with over 105,000 apartments, though a number have withdrawn from the program through the 'buyout' process.

Month-to-Month Tenants: Tenants including regulated tenants (but not rent controlled tenants who are referred to as statutory tenants) who do not have leases and pay rent on a monthly basis.

Multiple Dwelling: A dwelling which is either rented, leased, let or hired out, to be occupied, or is occupied, as the residence or home of three or more families living independently of each other. A multiple dwelling shall also include residential quarters for members or personnel of any hospital staff which are not located in any building used primarily for hospital use, but any building which was erected, altered or converted prior to July first, nineteen hundred fifty-five, to be occupied by such members or personnel or is so occupied on such date shall not be subject to the requirements of this code only so long as it continues to be so occupied if there are local laws applicable to such building and such building is in compliance with such local laws. A multiple dwelling does not include (i) a hospital, convent, monastery, asylum or public institution; or (ii) a fireproof building used wholly for commercial purposes except for not more than one janitor's apartment and not more than one penthouse occupied by not more than two families.

Multiple Dwelling Law: Law protecting tenants against intensive occupation of multiple dwelling sites, overcrowding of multiple dwelling rooms, inadequate provision for light and air, and insufficient protection against the defective provision for escape from fire, and improper sanitation of multiple dwellings in certain areas of the state due to the menace to the health, safety, morals, welfare, and reasonable comfort of the citizens of the state; and that the establishment and maintenance of proper housing standards requiring sufficient light, air, sanitation and protection from fire hazards are essential to the public welfare.

Multi-Tier Rent: Housing developments receiving assistance or financing from governmental agencies or public benefit corporations, or exiting regulation under the Private Housing Finance Law or other state or federal laws, may, by agreement between DHCR and such other government agencies, register higher and lower initial legal regulated rents for units subject to occupancy and rent restrictions under the previous regulatory or governmental financing plan. This dual level of rents is referred to as "multi-tier." These rents may then be adjusted according to the RSL or RSC but cannot be challenged under the Fair Market Rent Appeal.
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N
Net Operating Income (NOI): The amount of income remaining after operating and maintenance expenses are paid is typically referred to as Net Operating Income (NOI). NOI can be used for mortgage payments, improvements, federal, state and local taxes and after all expenses are paid, profit.

New York City Conciliation and Appeals Board (CAB): This Board was the independent, quasi-governmental agency which administered the Rent Stabilization Law and the Emergency Tenant Protection Act in New York City until April 1, 1984. Since April 1, 1984, DHCR has assumed the functions that were performed by the CAB.

New Law Tenement: A "Class A" multiple dwelling constructed between 1901 and 1929 and subject to the regulations of the Tenement House Law. Distinguished from the old law tenement in terms of reduction of hazardous conditions and improved access to light and air.

New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA): The New York City agency that administers public housing and rental assistance programs.

New York City Rent Guidelines Board: See "Rent Guidelines Board"

New York State Real Property Law (RPL): The New York State Real Property Law (RPL) covers the spectrum of Real Property issues, including the relationship between Landlord and Tenant. However, it should not be confused with the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (RPAPL) which details the nature of court proceedings that invariably arise from contested real estate issues.

Nominal Dollars: Dollars not adjusted to take inflation into account. See also "Real Dollars."

Non-Evict Co-op: A residential building that has been converted from rentals to cooperative units, wherein the residents living in the building at the time of conversion have the right to remain in their apartments as rental tenants without having to purchase their units. (See also Co-op.)

Notice of Appearances: The form that must be filed whenever an attorney or other authorized representative appears for a party who is involved in a proceeding before the DHCR. An attorney who appears for such party may instead use the letterhead stationery of his or her office as a notice of appearance if the information contained therein substantially conforms to the information required by the DHCR prescribed form.
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O
O&M:
Refers to the operating and maintenance expenses in buildings.

Occupant: Under rent stabilization a person, other than a tenant or a member of a tenant's immediate family, occupying a premises with the consent of the tenant. Such person shall not be considered a tenant for the purposes of the Rent Stabilization Code.

Office of Rent Administration (ORA): The office within DHCR that administers the four rent regulatory systems; rent control and rent stabilization for New York City, and rent control and rent stabilization for various municipalities outside New York City.

Old Law Tenement: A "Class A" multiple dwelling constructed before 1901 and subject to the regulations of the Tenement House Law.

Omnibus Housing Act: The law signed by Governor Mario M. Cuomo on June 30, 1983, as Chapter 403, mandated that DHCR assume responsibility for the administration of rent control and rent stabilization in New York City commencing April 1, 1984. In assuming this responsibility, DHCR phased out the regulatory functions of the entities formerly responsible for those systems - the Conciliation and Appeals Board (CAB) which had administered rent stabilization, and the Division of Rent Control of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development's (HPD) Office of Rent and Housing Maintenance, which had administered rent control. It also made many changes in rent and landlord-tenant laws, including the initiation of a system of registration of rents and services by owners with DHCR.
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Operating Cost Ratio: The "cost-to-income" ratio, or the percentage of income spent on operating and maintenance (O&M) expenses, is traditionally used by the Rent Guidelines Board to evaluate estimated profitability of stabilized housing, presuming that buildings are better off by spending a lower percentage of revenue on expenses.

Orders: See "Rent Guidelines Orders."

Outer Boroughs: Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island, or the boroughs of New York City not including Manhattan. These boroughs are often grouped together for purposes of analysis because their economic and demographic attributes are more similar to each other than those found in Manhattan.

Overcharge: Any additional charges or fees for a service already included in the rent or in excess of the lawful rent. Examples include illegal brokerage fee; excess security; tax abatement overcharge; excess rent charge; collection of guideline(s) increase when a service reduction is outstanding.

Owner: A fee owner, lessor, sublessor, assignee, net lessee, or a proprietary lessee of a housing accommodation in a structure or premises owned by a cooperative corporation or association, or an owner of a condominium unit or the sponsor of such corporation or association or condominium development, or any other person or entity, or agent of same, receiving or entitled to receive rent for the use or occupation of any housing accommodation.
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P
Permanently Exempt Housing from the RSL or ETPA: These include:

  1. A rent controlled apartment.
  2. Housing accommodations owned by the United States, the State of New York, any political subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, any municipality or any public housing authority.
  3. Housing accommodations for which rentals are fixed by DHCR, HPD or UDC pursuant to laws other than the RSL and/or ETPA and which do not become subject to the RSL and Code after the establishment of initial rents pursuant to such other laws.
  4. A building containing fewer than six housing accommodations on the date the building otherwise would have been first subject to the RSL. (which do not go to six or more units thereafter).
  5. Housing accommodations in buildings completed or buildings substantially rehabilitated as family units on or after January 1, 1974, except such buildings which are made subject to stabilization by provisions of the RSL or any other statute.
  6. Housing accommodations owned by a hospital, convent, monastery, asylum, public institution, or college or school dormitory or any institution operated exclusively for charitable or educational purposes on a non-profit basis, and occupied by a tenant whose initial occupancy is contingent upon an affiliation with such institution.
  7. Under RSL, rooms or other housing accommodations in hotels where such housing accommodations were rented on May 31, 1968 for more than $350.00 per month or $88.00 per week or are contained in a hotel which was constructed after July 1, 1969. Under ETPA, all hotel rooms are exempt.
  8. Housing accommodations in any motor court, any trailer, or trailer space used exclusively for transient occupancy or any part thereof; or any tourist home serving transients exclusively.
  9. Housing accommodations in buildings operated exclusively for charitable purposes on a non-profit basis.
  10. Housing accommodations contained in buildings owned as cooperatives or condominiums not occupied by non-purchasing tenants, under RSL, or not occupied by non-purchasing tenants or subsequent rental tenants who moved in before July 7, 1993, under ETPA.
  11. Housing accommodations used exclusively for professional, commercial or other non residential purposes in accordance with the certificate of occupancy.
  12. Housing accommodations in buildings completed or substantially rehabilitated as family units on or after January 1, 1974 or located in a building containing less than six housing accommodations, and made subject to the RSL and Code solely as a condition of receiving "J 51 " Tax benefits or Article XVIII PHFL funding; and thereafter receipt of such tax benefits and supervisory period has concluded and such housing accommodations became vacant; or, each lease and each renewal of the tenant in occupancy when the benefit or supervisory period concluded includes a notice informing such tenant that the housing accommodations shall become deregulated upon the expiration of the last lease entered into during the tax benefit or supervisory period and states the approximate date on which such benefits and supervisory period are scheduled to expire.
  13. Same as Item 12 except that the benefit in question is granted under Section 421 -a of the Real Property Tax Law and the housing accommodations became vacant after the expiration of the benefit period; or, for housing accommodations which first became subject to rent stabilization pursuant to 421-a after July 3, 1984 each lease and each renewal of the tenant in occupancy at the time the period of exemption pursuant to 421-a expires, contain the same notice as that discussed in Item 12, above.
  14. Housing accommodations which would be subject to the RSL and Code solely by reason of the Loft Law but are exempted from the Loft Law under Sections 286(6) and 286(12) of the MDL.
  15. High-rent or high-income deregulated housing accommodations.

The owner is required to file an annual apartment registration as of the April 1st date, following the permanent exemption and need not file subsequent registrations for that apartment.
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Permanent Tenant: See definition under "Succession Rights".

Petition for Administrative Review (PAR): An appeal from an Administrator's Order. An owner, tenant, or other party aggrieved by a Rent Administrator’s order may file a Petition for Administrative Review (PAR) with DHCR. The petition must specify the alleged errors and list the issues upon which the order should be reviewed. The scope of review in the PAR proceeding is generally limited to the facts or evidence that were both presented to the Rent Administrator and raised in the PAR. A PAR must be filed within 35 days after the Administrator's order is issued.

Plain English Lease: Leases must use words with common and everyday meanings and must be clear and coherent.

PIOC: Price Index of Operating Costs. The major research instrument performed by the RGB staff to determine the annual change in prices for a market basket of goods and services used by owners to operate and maintain rent stabilized buildings.

Points: Up-front service fees charged by lenders.

Post-46 or Post-war: A common classification of residential buildings used by City agencies to describe buildings built after World War II. Buildings with six or more residential units constructed between 1947 and 1973, or after 1974 if the units received a tax abatement such as 421-a or J-51, are considered stabilized.
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Preferential Rent: A rent charged by an owner to a tenant that is less than the established legal regulated rent. Depending on language in the lease, owners may not be required to base renewal lease increases on the preferential rent. The current (or new) tenant may be charged the higher legal regulated rent previously established plus the most recent applicable guidelines increases and other such increases as are permitted by law. Also known as the ‘actual rent.’

Pre-47 or Pre-war: A common classification of residential buildings used by City agencies to describe buildings built before World War II. ?Buildings with six or more units constructed before February 1, 1947 are generally stabilized when the current tenant moved in on or after July 1, 1971.

Primary Residence: For an apartment to remain in its rent regulated status (stabilized or controlled), the tenant must occupy it as his or her primary residence. The test as to whether a tenant is occupying the apartment as a primary residence includes, but is not limited to, consideration of the following factors: Does the tenant file a New York City Resident Tax Return from the subject address or show a valid reason for not filing, such as an income below taxable level? Does the tenant meet the definition of "resident" for tax purposes, either domicile or residence for 183 days of the year? What do the tenant's driver's license, voter registration card, or other such documents show as to the tenant's address? Does the tenant sublet or assign the apartment? Primary residence issues are determined by the courts.

Prime Tenant: See "Sublet."
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Q R

Real Dollars: Dollars adjusted to take inflation into account. Real dollar figures offer a comparison between years that are pegged to the value of a dollar in a given year. See also "Nominal Dollars."

Real Property Income & Expense (RPIE) Forms: Owners of stabilized buildings are required by Local Law 63 to file Real Property Income and Expense (RPIE) forms annually with the New York City Department of Finance. RPIE forms contain detailed financial information regarding the revenues earned and the costs accrued in the operation and maintenance of stabilized buildings. Buildings with fewer than 11 units, an assessed value of $40,000 or less, or exclusively residential cooperatives or condominiums are exempt from filing. RPIE forms are also known as I&E forms.

Real Property Law (RPL): See "New York State Real Property Law"

Registration: Owners are required to register all rent stabilized apartments with DHCR by filing an Annual Apartment Registration Form which lists rents, tenancy and services in effect on April 1st of each year.

Registration, Annual: Owners are required to register all rent stabilized apartments with DHCR by filing an Annual Apartment Registration Form which lists rents, tenancy and services in effect on April 1st of each year.

Registration, Apartment Services: On the initial apartment registration form, owners must specify services provided to an apartment, such as a stove or refrigerator. Additionally, on the annual apartment registration form, changes in services resulting in rent increases or decreases must be recorded.

Registration, Building Services: Owners must specify services provided for the building, such as elevator service, on the initial building registration form.

Registration, Initial: The initial registration of a rent stabilized apartment with DHCR. By June 30, 1984 owners were required to file an initial registration for each stabilized apartment they owned, with data as of April 1, 1984. Subsequently, owners are required to file an initial registration, within 90 days, after an apartment first becomes subject to the Rent Stabilization Law. The owner is required to provide the current tenant a copy of this registration and retain proof that the tenant received it. A building registration form, which includes a listing of building wide services, must also be completed at the time of the initial registration of apartments.

Registration, Tenant Challenge: A tenant challenge claiming that the Initial Legal Registered Rent filed by the owner is above the legal rent for the rent stabilized apartment. This claim must be made to DHCR within 90 days of the tenant's receipt of his/her copy of the Initial Apartment Registration form filed by the owner.
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Renewal Lease: The lease of a tenant in occupancy renewing the terms of the first, vacancy lease entered into between the tenant and owner for an additional term. Tenants in rent stabilized apartments have the right to select a lease renewal for a one- or two-year term. The renewal lease must be on the same terms and conditions as the expiring lease unless a change is necessary to comply with a specific law or regulation or is otherwise authorized by the rent regulation. The owner may charge the tenant a Rent Guidelines Board-authorized increase based on the length of the renewal lease term selected by the tenant. The law permits the owner to raise the rent during the lease term if the Rent Guidelines rate was not finalized when the tenant signed the lease renewal offer. A renewal lease should go into effect on or after the date that it is signed and returned to the tenant and on the day following expiration of the prior lease. In general, the lease and any rent increase may not begin retroactively. Penalties may be imposed when an owner does not timely offer the tenant a renewal lease or timely return to the tenant an executed copy thereof.

Rent: Consideration, charge, fee or other thing of value, including any bonus, benefit or gratuity demanded or received for, or in connection with, the use or occupation of housing accommodations or the transfer of a lease for such housing accommodations.

Rent Act of 2011: Extended rent regulation through June 15, 2015. For a summary of major changes and a link to the full text of the Act, see our page on the Rent Act of 2011.

Rent Act of 2015: Extended rent regulation through June 15, 2019. For a summary of major changes and a link to the full text of the Act, see our page on the Rent Act of 2015.

Rent Control: The rent regulation program which generally applies to residential buildings constructed before February, 1947 in municipalities for which an end to the postwar rental housing emergency has not been declared. For an apartment to be under rent control, the tenant must generally have been living there continuously since before July 1, 1971 or for less time as a successor to a rent controlled tenant. When a rent controlled apartment becomes vacant, it either becomes rent stabilized or is removed from regulation, generally becoming stabilized if the building has six or more units and if the community has adopted Emergency Tenant Protection Act. Formerly controlled apartments may have been decontrolled on various other grounds. Rent control limits the rent an owner may charge for an apartment and restricts the right of an owner to evict tenants. It also obligates the owner to provide essential services and equipment. Inside New York City, rent increases are governed by the MBR system.

Rent Guidelines Board (RGB): The New York City agency responsible for setting the yearly rent-rate adjustments for the City’s rent stabilized apartments, and also the agency which produced this publication. The Board is appointed by the Mayor and consists of two members who represent tenants, two members who represent the real estate industry and five public members.

RGB Rent Index: An index that measures the overall effect of the Rent Guidelines Board’s annual rent increases on contract rents.
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Rent Guidelines Orders: Rent guidelines orders are issued by the rent guidelines boards annually, usually about July 1. For the most part, they establish the percentage increases that may be given to rent stabilized/ETPA apartments upon lease renewal and for new leases. These increases are based on the review of operating expenses and other cost of living data.

Rent Law of 2003 : A June, 2003 amendment to various rent laws, passed by the NYS Legislature and signed by the Governor. It remained in effect until June 23, 2011. It has since been superseded by the Rent Act of 2011. Three major changes were put into effect with passage of the Rent Law of 2003:

1) Limits the ability of NYC to pass laws concerning rent regulatory
issues controlled by the State;

2) Allows for the deregulation of an apartment upon vacancy if the
legal regulated rent may be raised above $2000, even if the new
tenant is not actually charged an amount above $2000;

3) Permits an owner, upon renewal, to increase a rent stabilized
tenant's rent to the maximum legal regulated rent, regardless of
whether a tenant has been paying a preferential rent.

Rent Overcharge: See "Overcharge."

Rent Reductions Due to Decreased Services: Tenants in rent-regulated apartments can file individual and building-wide complaints if required or essential services are not being provided. That action could result in a rent reduction.

If the evidence indicates that the owner failed to maintain required services, DHCR issues a rent reduction order which also directs the owner to restore the services. A reduction in rent starts on the "effective date" specified in the Order and remains in effect until DHCR issues an order restoring the rent upon an owner's application for same. In addition, in rent stabilized apartments, the order finding a reduction in services bars the owner from collecting any further increases in rent until full services are restored. For a rent stabilized apartment located in New York City, DHCR is required to reduce the rent where DHCR finds a diminution of service.

The rent reduction consists of a percentage equal to the guidelines increase including any vacancy allowance or other applicable allowance in effect on the effective date of the Order.

If a tenant lives in a rent controlled apartment, the rent reduction, a specific dollar amount, becomes effective the first day of the month following DHCR's issuance of the order.

Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1997 ("RRRA-97"): The law passed by the New York State Legislature in June, 1997 which promulgated several new provisions for rent regulated units. Also known as the ‘Rent Act.’ See also "Special Low Rent Increase", "Vacancy Allowance", "Vacancy Bonus" and "Vacancy Decontrol".
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Rent Stabilization: In New York City, rent stabilized apartments are generally those apartments in buildings of six or more units built between February 1, 1947 and January 1, 1974. Tenants in buildings built before February 1, 1947, who moved in after June 30, 1971 are also covered by rent stabilization. A third category of rent stabilized apartments covers buildings subject to regulation by virtue of various governmental supervision or tax benefit programs. Generally, these buildings are stabilized only while the tax benefits or governmental suspension continues. In some cases, a building with as few as three units may be stabilized. Similar to rent control, stabilization provides other protections to tenants besides regulation of rental amounts. Tenants are entitled to receive required services, to have their leases renewed, and not to be evicted except on grounds allowed by law. Leases may be entered into and renewed for one or two year terms, at the tenant's choice.

Rent Stabilization Code: The Rent Stabilization Code (RSC) is the body of regulations used by DHCR to implement the Rent Stabilization Law and Emergency Tenant Protection Act in New York City. These regulations affect nearly 1 million rent stabilized apartments in New York City. ?Chapter 888 of the Laws of 1985 authorized DHCR to amend the Rent Stabilization Code for New York City. The current Rent Stabilization Code became effective on May 1, 1987, with subsequent revisions in 2000, 2003 and 2005.

Rent Stabilization Lease Rider: By law, an owner must include a copy of the Rent Stabilization Rider with a tenant's lease. The Rider describes the rights and obligations of tenants and owners under the Rent Stabilization Law. The Rider is only informational; its provisions do not modify or become part of the lease. Nor does it replace or modify the Rent Stabilization Law or Code, or any order from the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) or the New York City Rent Guidelines Board.

The Rider informs a rent stabilized tenant signing a vacancy lease of the legal regulated rent in effect immediately prior to the vacancy and explains how the present rent was computed.

Rent Stabilization Law: The Rent Stabilization Law (RSL) is the fundamental statute establishing Rent Stabilization regulation in New York City, and through the Rent Stabilization Code, is administered by the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). Established in 1969, the RSL is a modification and successor regulatory scheme to Rent Control. As Rent Control apartments become vacant, they normally become subject to Rent Stabilization.

Rental Vacancy Rate: The percentage of the total rental units in an area that are vacant and available for occupancy. The vacancy rate for New York City is determined every three years by the NYC Housing and Vacancy Survey.
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Required Services: Under rent stabilization, an owner must maintain all services required by the Rent Stabilization Law, or the ETPA, on the base date. These services are called required services and include, but are not limited to: repairs, decorating and maintenance, the furnishing of light, heat, hot and cold water, elevator services, janitorial services and removal of refuse.

Required services for apartments can be building-wide, such as heat, hot water, elevator service, and maintenance of public areas of the building. The service may also be something furnished within an individual apartment, such as a refrigerator, stove, air conditioning equipment, or painting.

When an owner provides equipment or services, such as a refrigerator or an air conditioner, the owner must maintain it in good working order. Defective equipment must be repaired or replaced. The owner does not have to replace defective equipment with brand new equipment.

The defective equipment can be replaced with reconditioned or used equipment, provided the equipment is in good working order. The owner is not entitled to any increase in rent based on the cost of replacement with reconditioned or used equipment or new equipment when the owner cannot locate serviceable, equivalent used equipment.

If an appliance is replaced with a new one, the owner may be entitled to a rent increase. Official approval by DHCR is not necessary in rent stabilized apartments in New York City. However, the tenant's written consent is required before the owner may collect the increase. In such cases, the owner may charge the tenant a rent increase equal to either 1/40th or 1/60th of the cost of the new equipment, including installation costs, but not including finance charges.

If an installation of new equipment is done while the apartment is vacant, the new tenant's consent is not required for the owner to collect a 1/40th or 1/60th increase.

Room: The definition of a room for MCI (Major Capital Improvement) purposes only is as follows:

  1. A windowless kitchen containing at least 59 square feet or a kitchen of any size with a window. In either case, a kitchen must be enclosed by at least three sides, excluding the side(s) that contain(s) the entranceway.
  2. An enclosed area with window containing at least 60 square feet.
  3. An enclosed area without window containing at least 80 square feet.
  4. Bathrooms, walk-in closets, porches, terraces and hallways are not rooms.
  5. An "enclosed area" is an area bounded by ceiling-to-floor walls, one or more of which may contain an entranceway.

Rooming House: Under rent regulation, in addition to its customary usage, a building or portion of a building, other than an apartment rented for single-room occupancy, in which housing accommodations are rented, on a short-term basis of daily, weekly or monthly occupancy, to more than two occupants for whom rent is paid, not members of the landlord's immediate family. The term shall include boarding houses, dormitories, trailers not a part of a motor court, residence clubs, tourist homes and all other establishments of a similar nature, except a hotel or a motor court.

Roommate: An occupant of the apartment who has not signed the lease.
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S
Safety Net Assistance (SNA): An income assistance program set up under the New York State Welfare Reform Act of 1997 to replace Home Relief (HR).

Section 8 Vouchers/Rental Program: A federally-funded housing assistance program that provides housing assistance payments to participating owners on behalf of eligible tenants to provide decent, safe and sanitary housing for low income families in private market rental units at rents they can afford. This is primarily a tenant-based rental assistance program through which participants are assisted in rental units of their choice; however, a public housing agency may also attach up to 15% of its certificate funding to rehabilitated or newly constructed units under a project-based component of the program. All assisted units must meet program guidelines. Housing assistance payments are used to make up the difference between the approved rent due to the owner for the dwelling unit and the family's required contribution towards rent. Assisted families must pay the highest of 30% of the monthly adjusted family income, 10% of gross monthly family income, or the portion of welfare assistance designated for the monthly housing cost of the family. In NYC, the program is administered by NYCHA and HPD.

Section 421-a Program: Under this section of the Real Property Tax Law, new multiple dwellings in New York City receive, under certain conditions, property tax abatements. For the duration of the abatements, at least, the apartments are rent regulated. This program provides real estate tax exemptions and abatements to newly constructed units.
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Security Deposit: Money that a tenant deposits with the owner of the apartment to insure against the cost of repair for any damages to the apartment that the tenant is responsible for.

In rent stabilized apartments, the amount of a security deposit is limited to no more than one month's rent. However, if two months' security deposit was collected from a tenant by the owner when the apartment first came under rent stabilization, and the same tenant is still occupying the apartment, the two months' requirement is valid. The next tenant cannot be required to deposit more than one month’s rent as security.

When a lease is renewed at a higher rental amount, the owner can collect additional money from the tenant to bring the security deposit up to the new monthly rent. Even though tenants may be exempt from paying a lease increase because of their Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE), they must still pay the increased security.

The security deposit must be kept by the owner in an interest-bearing account in a New York State bank. The owner must notify the tenant of the name and address of the bank and credit the tenant the full annual interest, less up to 1% of the security deposit per year for the owner's administrative costs. The tenant can choose whether the interest is to be subtracted from the rent, held in trust until the end of the tenancy, or paid in a lump sum at the end of each year.

Senior Citizens' Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE): If a New York City tenant or tenant's spouse is 62 years of age or over (living in a rent regulated apartment) and the combined household income is at or below a certain income level ($50,000 per year effective July 1, 2014) and they are paying at least 1/3 of their income toward their rent, the tenant may apply for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE). In New York City, the NYC Department of Finance administers the SCRIE program. Outside of New York City, SCRIE is a local option, and communities have different income eligibility limits and regulations. If a New York City tenant qualifies for this program, the tenant is exempt from future rent guidelines increases, Maximum Base Rent increases, fuel cost adjustments, MCI increases, and increases based on the owner's economic hardship. New York City senior citizen tenants may also carry this exemption from one apartment to another upon moving, upon the proper application being made to DFTA. In 2005, a similar program for disabled persons, called DRIE, was implemented. SCRIE and DRIE program details available on the NYC Dept. of Finance website.
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Senior Citizens' Special Rights: The law grants certain exemptions from rent increases to tenants who are senior citizens.

If a New York City tenant or tenant's spouse is 62 years of age or over (living in a rent regulated apartment) and the combined household income is at or below a certain income level ($50,000 per year effective July 1, 2014) and they are paying at least 1/3 of their income toward their rent, the tenant may apply for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE). In New York City, the NYC Department of Finance administers the SCRIE program. In the counties outside of New York City, covered by the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA), the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) administers the SCRIE program. Outside of New York City, SCRIE is a local option, and communities have different income eligibility limits and regulations.

If a New York City tenant qualifies for this program, the tenant is exempt from future rent guidelines increases, Maximum Base Rent increases, fuel cost adjustments, MCI increases, and increases based on the owner's economic hardship. New York City senior citizen tenants may also carry this exemption from one apartment to another upon moving, upon the proper application being made to DFTA.

Other rights for New York City senior citizens include:

  1. If a building is being converted to cooperative or condominium ownership under an Eviction Plan, an "eligible senior citizen" can nevertheless refuse to purchase the apartment and remain in occupancy as a fully protected rent regulated tenant with the fight to either lease renewal or protections against eviction.
  2. "Eligible senior citizens" are tenants who are primary residents in the apartment and are at least 62 years of age or have a spouse 62 years of age or older on the date the Attorney General accepts the Eviction Plan for filing.

    To take advantage of this benefit, an eligible senior citizen in New York City must elect, on forms provided by the Attorney General, to become a "non-purchasing" tenant within 60 days of the date that the Final Offering Plan is presented to the tenants. Outside New York City, there is no formal election requirement.

  3. An owner cannot evict a tenant from rent stabilized apartments in New York City for the purpose of owner occupancy when either the tenant or the tenant's spouse is a senior citizen, unless the owner provides an equivalent or superior apartment at the same or lower regulated rent in an area near the tenant’s present apartment.
  4. For rent stabilized apartments outside New York City and rent controlled apartments statewide, an owner cannot evict a tenant, where any member of the tenant's household is a senior citizen, on the basis of owner occupancy.
  5. New York City senior citizens with a currently valid Rent Increase Exemption Order are not required to pay any portion of a fuel cost increase that would raise their total rent to over 1/3 of their household disposable income. Senior citizens who apply for and are granted a SCRIE order within 90 days after receipt of the owner's fuel cost adjustment report, are retroactively exempt from paying any portion of the most recent fuel cost adjustments that would raise their total rent to over 1/3 of their total household disposable income.
  6. A senior citizen may terminate his/her lease, without penalty, in order to move into a health care facility or senior citizen housing complex. If the senior citizen terminates the lease in order to move into a health care facility, the owner must receive at least 30 days notice, and 60 days notice to the owner is required if the tenant moves into a senior citizen housing complex.

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Service: Both the Rent Control and Rent Stabilization Laws require that the owner continue to provide all services provided on the base date (generally the date the apartment became subject to regulations) as well as any services which are required by law. See also "Essential Services."

Shelter Allowance: A rental grant provided to households receiving public assistance under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.

Single-Room Occupancy Housing (SRO): Residential properties in which some or all dwelling units do not contain bathroom or kitchen facilities. Under rent control, the occupancy by one or two persons of a single room, or of two or more rooms which are joined together, separated from all other rooms within an apartment in a multiple dwelling, so that the occupant or occupants thereof reside separately and independently of the other occupant or occupants of the same apartment.

Small Building Owners' Assistance Unit: The Unit of DHCR-ORA providing special assistance to owners of rent regulated buildings with a total of 50 units or less. DHCR's Small Building Owners' Assistance Unit has an office at 92-31 Union Hail Street, 4th Floor, Jamaica, Queens, and offers its services at the Borough and District Rent Offices throughout the State. The Unit's services include advice and assistance with:

Special Guideline: The New York City Rent Guidelines Board is obligated to promulgate special guidelines to aid the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal in its determination of initial legal regulated rents for housing accommodations previously subject to rent control. The Special Guideline is the percentage increase above the prior rent controlled tenant Maximum Base Rent (MBR) or Maximum Collectible Rent (MCR). This is determined each year by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board as applicable to the determination of Fair Market Rent Appeals.

Special Low Rent Increase: This provision of the 1997 Rent Regulation Reform Act permits the landlords of units which rent for less than $300 to charge those vacancy allowances otherwise permitted (including the "vacancy bonus") plus $100. Moreover, if an apartment rented for between $300 and $500, this same provision of the Rent Act provides that "in no event shall the total increase pursuant to this [vacancy allowance provision of the Rent Act] be less than one hundred dollars per month."

Special Vacancy Allowance: See "Vacancy Bonus."

Stabilization: See "Rent Stabilization."

State Rent Commission: The Temporary State Housing Rent Commission created by the Emergency Housing Rent Control Law. DHCR now performs the Commission's functions.

Statutory Vacancy Allowance: See "Vacancy Allowance."
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Stay: A preservation of the current state of affairs while a proceeding, such as a PAR (Petition for Administrative Review), is pending. Parties may apply to the Commissioner for a stay, or a stay may come into effect automatically. For example, where a PAR is filed against a rent overcharge order, under the Rent Stabilization Code, the rent level set in the Administrator’s order prevails during the pendency of the PAR, but there is an automatic stay of that part of the order which directs the owner to refund past overcharges. Such stay continues until the PAR is decided. However, the Commissioner may grant or vacate a stay under appropriate circumstances.

Sublet: The temporary transfer of a tenant's legal interest in an apartment to another person. A tenant who sublets an apartment to another person is the prime tenant. The person to whom the apartment is sublet is the subtenant/sublessee. In a sublet situation, the prime tenant must abide by the rent stabilization rules that govern the building owner.

Substantial Rehabilitation: A major reconstruction of the building, taking place after January 1, 1974, wherein at least 75% of the building-wide and apartment systems have been completely replaced with new systems. Upon completion of such work an apartment is no longer subject to regulation and market rents can be charged.

Subtenant/Sublessee: See "Sublet.".

Succession Rights: For rent stabilized and rent controlled apartments throughout New York State, any "family member" of the tenant may have the right to a renewal lease (rent stabilization) or protection from eviction (rent control) when the tenant dies or permanently leaves the apartment.

The right to a renewal lease is granted if such family member resided with the tenant in the apartment as their primary residence for two (2) years immediately prior to the death of the tenant, or permanent leaving of the apartment, by the tenant (1 year for family members who are senior citizens or disabled persons - see definitions below). The family member may also be granted the right to a renewal lease if he/she resided with the tenant from the inception of the tenancy or from the commencement of the relationship. Consideration is given to absences from the apartment for military service, schooling and other grounds.

  • "Family Member" is defined as a husband, wife, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, father, mother, stepfather, stepmother, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, grandson, granddaughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law or daughter-in-law of the tenant or permanent tenant.
  • "Tenant" relates to any person or persons named on a lease or rental agreement who is obligated to pay rent for the use of the housing accommodation.
  • "Permanent tenant" relates to individuals who have continuously resided in housing accommodations located in hotels as a primary residence for a period of at least six months, or a hotel tenant in occupancy pursuant to or entitled to a lease.
  • The definition of family member has been further expanded to include any other person(s) residing with the tenant or permanent tenant in the housing accommodation as a primary resident, who can prove emotional and financial commitment and interdependence between such person(s) and the tenant.
  • "Disabled person" is a person who has an impairment which results from anatomical, physiological or psychological conditions, other than addiction to alcohol, gambling, or any controlled substance, which is demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques, and which substantially limit one or more of such person's major life activities. (See also "Disabled Persons.")

Supplemental Adjustment: A rent increase that has been allowed in certain years in addition to a regular Guideline Rent increases for apartments. The supplementary adjustment amount is established for that guideline year by the New York City or County Rent Guidelines Boards based upon the date the lease was signed, the term of the lease and the county. Also known as the "Low Rent Supplement."

Surcharge: An added charge which is paid by the tenant but not included in the legal regulated rent and is not compounded by guidelines adjustments. Examples of surcharges are: the $5.00 a month charge for an air conditioner that protrudes beyond the window line; the electrical charge for air conditioners in electrical inclusion buildings; and for the installation of window guards.
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T U
Tax Commission Income and Expense Form (TCIE): An application by building owners to appeal their tax assessments that is filed with the NYC Department of Finance.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF): An income assistance program set up under the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 to replace Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Under TANF block grant system, each state has the authority to determine who is eligible, the level of assistance, and how long it will last. The New York State’s TANF program is called the Family Assistance Program (FAP).

Temporarily Exempt Housing Accommodations: A temporarily exempt accommodation is one which is not presently occupied by a rent stabilized tenant, but may be covered by rent stabilization if the tenancy changes. For example, the accommodation:

  1. Is occupied by the owner or members of the owner's immediate family.
  2. Is occupied by an employee who is not paying rent.
  3. Is rented solely for business or professional use.
  4. Is in a hotel or SRO and houses a transient occupant.
  5. Is occupied by a tenant not using the unit as his or her primary residence, as determined by a court of competent jurisdiction.
  6. Is owned by a non-profit institution and is occupied by a tenant who is affiliated with that institution, in a building which also contains non-affiliated tenants.

The owner is required to register these apartments on an annual basis.

Tenant: Under rent stabilization, any person or persons named on a lease as lessee or lessees, or who is or are a party or parties to a rental agreement and obligated to pay rent for the use or occupancy of a housing accommodation. Under rent control and the Emergency Tenant Protection Act a tenant, subtenant, lessee, sublessee or other person entitled to the possession or to the use or occupancy of any housing accommodation.
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Term: The length of time in which a mortgage is expected to be paid back to the lender; the shorter the term, the faster the principal must be repaid and consequently the higher the debt service and vice versa.

Transient Occupancy: Among the criteria that must be met for hotel rooms, tourist homes, and motor courts to be exempt from rent regulation is that they are used for transient occupancy. Whether occupancy is transient depends on a number of factors, including whether rates are charged by the day, week, or month, and the proportions of occupants who stay for various lengths of time.

Treble Damages: The total amount that the tenant is awarded when the owner has been found to have willfully collected any rent in excess of the legal regulated rent. DHCR imposes treble damages, which are equal to three times the amount of the overcharge, only for rent stabilized apartments. Treble damages will not be imposed if:

  1. The owner can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the overcharge was not willful.
  2. Purchase of a building occurred at a judicial or bankruptcy sale, where complete prior rent records were not available and that is the basis for the overcharge.
  3. An owner adjusts the rent on his or her own within the time afforded to interpose an answer to the proceeding and submits proof to the DHCR that he or she has tendered, in good faith, to the tenant a full refund of all excess rent collected, plus interest.
  4. The overcharge is caused by the hyper-technical nature of the rent computation.
  5. There is a roll back of the rent caused by the determination of a fair market rent appeal.

Treble damages will not be imposed on any portion of the overcharge occurring more than two years before the complaint is filed or upon an overcharge which occurred prior to April 1, 1984.

Upper Manhattan: As typically used in Rent Guidelines Board research reports, defined as the area of Manhattan north of 96th Street on the East Side and 110th Street on the West Side.

Useful Life Schedule: A listing of the expected life of installations that qualify as major capital improvements or individual apartment improvements as recognized by the DHCR.
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V W X Y Z
Vacancy Allowance: A provision in the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1997 allows owners of rent stabilized units to raise by a certain percentage the legal rent of a vacant unit. For an incoming tenant who opts for a two-year lease, the vacancy allowance is 20%. For an incoming tent who opts for a one-year lease, the vacancy allowance is 20% minus the percentage difference between the Rent Guidelines Board's (RGB’s) then-current guidelines for a two-year and a one-year lease. For instance, if an incoming tenant opts for a one-year lease, during the 2011-2012 guideline period, the standard one-year vacancy guideline would be 16.5% and the two-year guideline would be 20%. Other factors affect these percentages as well (see also the "Vacancy Bonus" and the "Special Low Rent Increase.") In addition, if any improvements are done in the apartment, the cost of the improvements may be added. See "Individual Apartment Improvements."

However, with passage of the Rent Act of 2015, if a vacating tenant was paying a preferential rent, the vacancy lease rent increase that can be applied to the vacating tenant’s legal rent will be limited to 5% if the last vacancy lease commenced less than two years ago, 10% if less than three years ago, 15% if less than four years ago and 20% if four or more years ago. For more information on how the Rent Act of 2015 changes procedures for determining the vacancy lease rent, please contact the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), the agency that regulates rent stabilized apartments in NYC, or visit their website.

Vacancy Bonus: An additional rental increase allowed for units that become vacant after a long-term tenant has moved out. If the prior tenant had been in occupancy at least for eight years–and thus the unit had not "received" a vacancy allowance during that time–the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1997 permits the landlord to charge an additional 0.6% for each year since the unit received its last vacancy allowance. For example, if (1) the incoming tenant opts for a two-year lease, after (2) the prior tenant had been in occupancy for ten years, then the landlord can charge the incoming tenant a 20% vacancy allowance (for a two-year lease) plus another 6% (ten years times 0.6%) for a total increase of 26% over the legal rent which had been paid by the departing tenant. (Also see "Vacancy Allowance" above.)

However, with passage of the Rent Act of 2015, , if a vacating tenant was paying a preferential rent, the vacancy lease rent increase that can be applied to the vacating tenant’s legal rent will be limited to 5% if the last vacancy lease commenced less than two years ago, 10% if less than three years ago, 15% if less than four years ago and 20% if four or more years ago. For more information on how the Rent Act of 2015 changes procedures for determining the vacancy lease rent, please contact the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), the agency that regulates rent stabilized apartments in NYC, or visit their website.

Vacancy Deregulation (aka High-Rent/Vacancy Deregulation): Effective with the passage of the Rent Act of 2015, the rent threshold for high-rent vacancy deregulation and high income high-rent deregulation was raised from $2,500 to $2,700. The threshold will be adjusted January 1, 2016 and annually thereafter by the one year renewal lease guideline percentage increase issued the prior year by the Rent Guidelines Board for the locality. For more information on how the Rent Act of 2015 changes procedures for deregulation, please contact the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), the agency that regulates rent stabilized apartments in NYC, or visit their website.

Vacancy Lease: When a person rents a rent stabilized apartment for the first time, or, when a new name (not the spouse or domestic partner) is added to an existing lease, this is a vacancy lease. This written lease is a contract between the owner and the tenant which includes the terms and conditions of the lease, the length of the lease and the rights and responsibilities of the tenant and the owner. The Rent Stabilization Law gives the new tenant (also called the vacancy tenant) the choice of a one or two-year lease term. The rent the owner can charge may not be more than the last legal regulated rent plus all increases authorized by the Rent Stabilization Code, including increases for improvements to the vacant apartment. In addition, under the Rent Act of 2011, rent increases legally permitted upon vacancy may not be taken more than once in any calendar year. (Also see "Vacancy Allowance") In addition, if any improvements are done in the apartment, the cost of the improvements may be added. See "Individual Apartment Improvements."

In addition, under the Rent Act of 2015, if a vacating tenant was paying a preferential rent, the vacancy lease rent increase that can be applied to the vacating tenant’s legal rent will be limited to 5% if the last vacancy lease commenced less than two years ago, 10% if less than three years ago, 15% if less than four years ago and 20% if four or more years ago. For more information on how the Rent Act of 2015 changes procedures for determining the vacancy lease rent, please contact the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), the agency that regulates rent stabilized apartments in NYC, or visit their website.

Vacate Order: A vacate order is an order issued by a governmental agency, such as the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development or local Housing Department, the Fire Department, the Health Department, or the Buildings Department, which requires that tenants vacate the building because it has been found to be unlivable. Orders are usually effective until the health, safety or Building Code violations in the building have been cleared.

Warranty of Habitability: Real Property Law Section 235-b entitles tenants to a livable, safe and sanitary apartment and building and remedies are specified when these conditions are not met.
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Sources include: "Housing NYC: Rents, Markets and Trends 2015," NYC Rent Guidelines Board and "An Overview of New York State's Rent Regulated Housing 1993," NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

Page Updated 6/1/2016

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