Rent History

Rent History

You can obtain a printout of the registered rents for your apartment - called a 'rent history' - from the NYS Division of Housing & Community Renewal. You can have this mailed to you by calling 718-739-6400, or you can visit one of the borough offices. To obtain your rent-history in person, you must bring state-issued photo-identification and a copy of your lease. Occupants of an apartment who are not named on the lease (such as family members, roommates, guests, or subletters) may be denied a copy of the rent history. Borough rent offices are located:

Bronx Borough Rent Office: 2400 Halsey Street, 1st Floor, Bronx, New York 10461  Phone:

Brooklyn Borough Rent Office: 55 Hanson Place, Room 702, Brooklyn, New York 11217  Phone: 718-722-4778

Manhattan (Uptown): Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Office Building, 163 West 125th St, 5th Floor, New York, New York 10027, Phone: 212-961-8930

Manhattan (Downtown): 25 Beaver Street, 5th Floor, New York, New York 10004, Phone: 212-480-6238

Queens: Gertz Plaza, 92-31 Union Hall Street, Jamaica, New York 11433, Phone: 718-739-6400

 

 

What is a rent history? If rent stabilization starts in 1974, why does it start in 1984?

 What is HCR?

What is the four-year look-back rule? What are the exceptions to the 4 year rule?

I have my rent history. How do I find out if I’ve been overcharged?

How much will I get back?

What should I do if I think something is wrong? How can I investigate and challenge the “legal regulated rent”?

 

What is a rent history? If rent stabilization starts in 1974, why does it start in 1984?

A rent history is a document you can obtain from a state agency called Homes and Community Renewal (“HCR”) that shows the registered rents for your apartment going back to 1984. This is when the state started to ask landlords to register apartments. The rents shown on your rent history are self-reported to HCR by your landlord, and HCR does not check what the landlord is reporting. There are also no fines for not reporting. It is not uncommon for registrations to be missing or incorrect due to the self-reporting system.  Your landlord will not know if you ask for your rent history.

 

What is HCR?

Homes and Community Renewal, also known as HCR (formerly known as Department of Homes and Community Renewal or DHCR), states its mission as “to build, preserve and protect affordable housing and increase home ownership across the state.” Among other programs, HCR “enforces the State’s Rent Regulation Laws and protects the rights of tenants facing landlord harassment or rent overcharges.” They are the agency that monitors and enforces the rules of rent regulation.

 

What is the four-year look-back rule? What are the exceptions to the 4 year rule?

Your rent history will have rent going back to 1984. As a general rule, however, HCR will only look back four years when considering a rent overcharge claim.  There are a few exceptions to the four year rule, however.  The first exception is that HCR will look back more than four years if the overcharge appears to involve “fraud” -- in other words, if it appears your landlord deliberately provided false information to HCR.  There are many ways to show fraud, and you can contact a tenants’ rights organization or lawyer for help interpreting your rent history.   One way to show fraud is to get organized. Fraud can often be proven by using multiple tenants’ rent histories in the same building or complex. The second exception is if you have preferential rent., HCR can look back to the year before the preferential rent started when considering an overcharge complaint.  The third exception is that if you are challenging whether your apartment is rent stabilized, the four-year rule does not apply to you.

I have my rent history. How do I find out if I’ve been overcharged?

Your rent history might look confusing at first. It lists all the registered rents going back to 1984. First thing to do is to see if you are listed and check that the dates and amounts are correct. Then it’s time for some math: a simple way of figuring out if you have an overcharge case is Base Date Rent (rent registered 4 years ago) + Lawful Increases (vacancy bonus, renewal increase, Individual Apartment Increase (IAI), Major Capital Improvements (MCI), longevity bonus) = Legal Regulated Rent. Anything above this would be considered an overcharge.

How much will I get back?

 If HCR or the courts determine you are being overcharged you are entitled to treble damages -- three times the total  amount you were overcharged. This may mean that you get a payment from your landlord or that you deduct it from future rent payments.

What should I do if I think something is wrong? How can I investigate and challenge the “legal regulated rent”?

There are three ways to challenge your rent, and the better option is not always the same for each tenant. You may want to consult a lawyer about which option is better for you.

1.     HCR Overcharge Claim -- you can file an Overcharge Claim with HCR using form RA-89, "Tenant's Complaint of Rent and/or Other Specific Overcharges in Rent Stabilized Apartments." The form is available at HCR offices, or at www.nyshcr.org/rent.  An overcharge complaint does not involve any risk of eviction and it is the easiest method for tenants who aren’t represented by a lawyer.

2. Supreme/Civil Court -- you can sue your landlord in Supreme Court (or in some cases, Civil Court) for overcharge.  There is no risk of eviction if you use this option, but it would be best to consult with a lawyer and ideally obtain legal representation before bringing this type of case.

3. Housing Court – you can withhold rent, causing your landlord to bring a nonpayment case against you in housing court.  However, this option will put you at risk of eviction, so it’s best to only use this option after talking with a lawyer.

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