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Expert Interview: Receiving an Apartment Rent Increase Notice

Rent Increase Notice-RENTCafe

RENTCafe is bringing you a series of interviews that address the most common landlord-tenant legal matters. Our goal is to inform you of your options and to give you a sense of perspective and confidence when tackling these matters.

Getting a good price on a rental apartment is an achievement when you sign a new lease, but that doesn’t always guarantee that your rent will remain unchanged, especially in a competitive rental market. If your landlord decides to raise your rent, you will receive a notice of rent increase. Such an action is to be expected especially when you’re nearing the end of your lease term.

To find out when and how rent increase happens, we contacted attorneys Nataly Goldstein and Taso Pardalis of Pardalis & Nohavicka, LLP and asked them a few questions. Nataly Goldstein is a graduate of Cardozo School of Law, where she served as President of the Real Estate Law Association.  She is experienced in both residential and commercial real estate transactions, as well as representing large banks. Taso Pardalis is a founding partner of the Law Offices of Pardalis and Nohavicka, a leading full- service New York City law firm with offices in Manhattan and Queens. Taso is an established attorney in New York and a supporter of small businesses.

Let’s see what knowledge they shared with us on this topic:

When can your landlord increase your rent?

The answer to this question depends on whether the tenant’s lease is rent stabilized or free market. If your apartment is rent stabilized it should clearly be stated on your lease. You could also reach out to the New York State Department of Buildings to check if your apartment is rent stabilized, but there are certain requirements that must be met, based on the tenant’s rent, salary and the age of the building. In a rent stabilized building, the landlord can only increase the rent upon renewal of the tenant’s lease when the NYCRGB (New York City Rent Guidelines Board) approves a rent increase for the year. NYCRGB regulates when and by how much a rent stabilized apartment’s rent amount can increase, and this will change every year. In the case of a free market apartment (not rent controlled or rent stabilized) a landlord may increase your rent every year upon your renewal date. Additionally, there are no regulations or limits for rent increases in the case of a free market lease.

How often can you expect to receive a rent increase notice?

If your apartment is rent stabilized, the landlord can only increase your rent in a year that the NYCRGB allows for rent increases, and upon your lease renewal date. For example, let’s say you entered into your lease in March of 2018. Since an increase is applied this year, your landlord can increase your rent in March 2019 by 1.5% if you sign a one-year lease and increase by 2.5% if you sign a two-year lease. Additionally, a landlord may not increase your rent if they do not give proper “notice”. For a rent stabilized apartment, he is required to send a lease renewal within 90 to 150 days of expiration of your lease, and the tenant has 60 days from when they receive the renewal to sign it and return it to the landlord.

On the free market, your rent can be increased every year upon the renewal date of your lease.

How much can a landlord raise rent per year?

Referring to rent stabilized apartments, for the time period beginning on October 1, 2018 and ending on September 31, 2019, the increase for a one-year renewal was 1.5%, and the increase for a two-year renewal was 2.5%. Some years, the increase can be 0%. These rates change every year and vary between 0%-4% increases. Also, tenants should be aware that if they are making a claim for being charged the incorrect rent rate, they can only go back four years.

In the case of free market, it is for the landlord to decide how much he will increase the rent.

Could the rent increase affect your security deposit as well?

Generally, no, a landlord may not increase your security deposit. Usually, the deposit you pay upon the first year of your lease remains with the landlord until you leave. This amount is usually equal to one month of rent unless the tenant’s financials are insufficient in which case the landlord could require more security. There is one exception to this, and that is if the tenant missed any rent payment or if the apartment was not left in “usual wear and tear condition” in which case the landlord may take your entire security deposit or a portion of it to cover costs. With a free market lease, a landlord may ask for additional security when you renew your lease based on past behavior, such as delinquent rents.

Are there any state-specific regulations that renters living in the State of New York should be aware of?

New York City is separate from New York State when it comes to housing regulations, so the rules may not be consistent throughout the state. For example, Nassau County housing rules differ tremendously from Queens or Kings County. New York City has many regulations for tenants as it’s very protective of its residents, with even more protective rules for tenants with rent stabilized and rent controlled apartments. For example, in New York City, a landlord is required to maintain a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit inside the building if the temperature outside is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, between the months of October 1 and May 31 between – 6 AM and 10 PM. There are also specific regulations on the water temperature in buildings.  Tenants can visit this page for more information.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed or used as legal advice. The answers to the questions have been provided in full by the attorney interviewed and they apply to the states or areas where he/she is licensed. RENTCafe is not engaged in rendering legal advice and/or legal services to you and makes no representations about the suitability, accuracy, completeness, usefulness, or legality of any content, information and/or material contained on this site. In case of a legal dispute with your landlord or any other legal matter, you should consult a licensed attorney.

Related post: Which States Have the Best and Worst Laws for Renters?

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About the author

Marina Andresi

Marina is a marketing content developer for RENTCafé.com. She likes to research and write about real estate market trends and their impact on the nation's social scene. She also writes essays about significant films and TV shows. If you want to get in touch you can email her @ marina.rentcafe@yardi.com.

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