Rent Stabilized lease renewals

Rent Stabilized Lease Renewals

The basics...

With some limited exceptions, if you are a rent stabilized tenant, you are entitled to renew your lease for one or two years (the choice is yours) on the same terms and conditions as your original lease - except for lawful increases in the rent.

The maximum amount that the rent for your apartment can increase when you renew your lease is set each year by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board, with somewhat higher increases for a two year renewals than for one-year renewals. Your landlord is required to offer a lease renewal between 90 and 150 days before your lease expires, and you have 60 days to respond.

If your landlord does not offer you a renewal lease, this does not put you at risk of eviction. Whether or not your landlord offers you a renewal lease, your rights as a rent-stabilized tenant remain the same. The old lease and rent amount remain in effect until a renewal lease is offered and takes effect.

Legal Disclaimer:

The information contained on this web page does not constitute legal advice and must not be used as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer qualified to give advice on legal issues pertaining to housing. For more, visit our page on Finding a lawyer.

This information pertains only to tenants living in New York City.

Many of your rights depend on the type of housing you live in or your type of tenancy. You may be subject to different laws and have different sets of rights than even neighbors in your own building. Learn which rights and responsibilities apply to you.

 

What are the current legal rent increases for rent-stabilized apartments?

For rent-stabilized leases being renewed between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013, the legal rent may be increased at the following levels: 2% for a one-year renewal, or 4% for a two-year renewal

Exception: Minimum increase:

If you have lived in your apartment for at least 6 years, and your rent is under $1,000, your legal rent may be increased by $20 for a one-year renewal, or $40 for a two-year renewal.

To see the guidelines for previous years, refer to the chart of all Rent Guidelines Board orders from 1969 to 2013.

 

Is my landlord required to renew my rent-stabilized lease?

If you live in a rent-stabilized apartment, you have the right under state law to renew your lease for a one or two year term, or to continue living in your apartment by the terms (including the rent level) of your old lease, until your landlord decides to offer you a lease renewal - with some exceptions.

To end your tenancy, your landlord must demonstrate that you have failed to pay the rent; violated a substantial term of your lease; violated something in the rent stabilization code; or have created a nuisance (or someone who lives with you has created a nuisance)

In some cases, a landlord may seek to terminate a tenancy based on the landlord's intention to use an apartment for personal use or for the use of an immediate family member (owner-use) or because a landlord is seeking to demolish the building or convert it to non-residential use. (Tenants are encouraged to fight back, as there is a high burden of proof placed on landlords who seek to evict tenants on those grounds. Tenants threatened by this type of eviction are strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel.)

Your landlord's failure to offer you a renewal lease for your rent stabilized apartment does not put you at risk of eviction. Your old lease and rent level stays in effect until your landlord properly offers you a renewal lease.

 

When is my landlord required to offer me a renewal lease for my rent stabilized apartment, and when am I required to return it?

If you live in a rent-stabilized apartment, your landlord is required to send a renewal lease offer between 90 and 150 days before your existing lease expires. You have 60 days to respond. You have the choice of renewing the lease for one or two years, or moving out and returning possession of the apartment to your landlord at the end of the lease.

You are strongly encouraged to photocopy your renewal lease and keep the copy for your records before you return the original. If the renewal lease was sent by mail, you are also strongly encouraged to keep the envelope it came in, as this may be your only proof of when the offer was sent. You may want to send your lease renewal to your landlord by certified mail, return receipt requested.

The law states that once you send your renewal lease in, your landlord must return a signed copy to you within 30 days, but some landlords ignore this rule. If that happens to you, you can file a complaint with DHCR by using Form RA-90 Tenant's Complaint of Owner's Failure to Renew Lease and/or Failure to Furnish a Copy of a Signed Lease. However, there is no statutory penalty for a landlord's failure to return the signed copy of the lease. Once you have signed the renewal lease and sent it back to your landlord, the renewal is considered in effect, and it cannot be revoked. You should begin paying the rent increase when the renewal lease takes effect whether or not you have received a signed copy of the renewal lease from your landlord. Photocopying the lease with your signature before you mail it back to your landlord is useful in resolving disputes that may arise later.

 

I didn't return my renewal lease within 60 days. What will happen to me?

If you wait longer than 60 days to return your rent-stabilized renewal lease renewal offer, your landlord may deem your lease renewed, and select a one- or two-year renewal for you. In this case, you will be liable for the rent for this new term. Their right to renew your lease comes from the rent stabilization code (Section 2523.5):

"Where the tenant fails to timely renew an expiring lease or rental agreement offered pursuant to this section, and remains in occupancy after expiration of the lease, such lease or rental agreement may be deemed to have been renewed upon the same terms and conditions, at the legal regulated rent, together with any guidelines adjustments that would have been applicable had the offer of a renewal lease been timely accepted. The effective date of the rent adjustment under the "deemed" renewal lease shall commence on the first rent payment date occurring no less than 90 days after such offer is made by the owner."

Alternately, your landlord could begin an eviction proceeding against you in court after the lease expires, on the basis that you refused to sign a renewal lease. The courts may allow a late renewal if there is a reasonable excuse, but you are strongly encouraged to consult with an experienced tenant attorney in this situation.

 

I sometimes pay my rent late - will this affect my stabilized renewal lease?

Your landlord cannot refuse to offer a renewal lease on the basis that you are currently behind in your rent. You are entitled to a renewal lease even when you are in the middle of a nonpayment of rent eviction case in Housing Court. However, be advised that chronic late payment of rent is grounds for a landlord to begin a holdover eviction proceeding against a tenant - whether or not the tenant is behind in the rent at the time of the court case. For more on this, read our information sheet on holdover evictions.

 

My landlord has not sent my renewal lease - what should I do?

If your landlord does not offer you a renewal lease in the time-frame required by law, you are not in danger of facing an eviction for this, because your old lease remains in effect.

Your landlord's failure to timely renew your lease may actually work out in your favor. The only thing that occurs upon lease renewal is that your landlord is entitled to raise your rent. The longer it takes for your landlord to offer a lease renewal, the longer it is before you need to pay a rent increase (at least 60 days after the offer) and you can refuse to sign any lease that is back-dated - instead demanding a lease with the proper start date.

Even though the failure to receive a renewal lease in a rent-stabilized apartment does not come witn any additional risks, some tenants feel more secure when they have signed a renewal lease. If you want to complain about your landlord's failure to renew your lease, you can file a complaint with DHCR by using Form RA-90, Tenant's Complaint of Owner's Failure to Renew Lease and/or Failure to Furnish a Copy of a Signed Lease.

 

What can I do if the renewal lease for my rent-stabilized apartment has inaccuracies?

You can face serious consequences for signing lease renewals that contain invalid information. While your refusal to sign a valid renewal lease can be grounds for an eviction, there are many valid reasons you may want to refuse to sign a renewal lease offer, including:

  • the renewal lease indicates a rent level that is illegally high
  • the renewal lease changes the terms and conditions of your original lease
  • your landlord back-dated the renewal lease, indicating either that it was presented to you earlier than it really was, or that the date the lease will take effect is less than 90 days after the renewal was offered
  • the renewal lease improperly adds or omits names - or misspells names - of you or another primary tenant
  • the renewal lease contains the name of a tenant who has moved or died, rather than the name of the family member who is claiming succession rights to the apartment

You can return the lease unsigned, send a letter explaining that you do want to renew a proper lease, but that this lease is invalid, and explain the reasons why it is invalid. Keep a copy of the letter you write. Also, photocopy the renewal lease before you return it, and keep the copy - as well as the envelope it came in (if the lease was offered by mail.) It's advisable to send the invalid renewal lease to your landlord by certified mail, return receipt requested - and keep the certified mail receipt.

You may want to file a complaint with DHCR. You can use Form RA-90, Tenant's Complaint of Owner's Failure to Renew Lease and/or Failure to Furnish a Copy of a Signed Lease.

 

My landlord attached a rider to my rent-stabilized lease renewal. Do I have to sign it?

No - you can insist on your right to a lease renewal that has exactly the same conditions as your current lease (with only the amount of rent being adjusted according to permitted guidelines.)

Under Sec. 2523.5 of the Rent Stabilization Code, your landlord must offer to "renew the lease or rental agreement at the legal regulated rent permitted for such renewal lease and otherwise on the same terms and conditions as the expiring lease."

In most instances, lease riders are unfavorable to tenants - in some cases, dramatically so.

In these situations, you can sign the lease but leave the riders to the lease unsigned and put a large "X" across the entire page of the lease riders. Alternatey, you can send everything back to your landlord and demand a renewal lease that does not contain any riders. For clarity, you may want to write a letter, and keep a copy for your records, stating that you are renewing your lease but not consenting to the attached riders. Photocopy the lease renewal and riders, and keep the copies for your records.

 

My landlord sent my rent stabilized lease renewal late, and then back-dated it. What can I do?

Your renewal lease should not take effect until a minimum of 90 days after it is offered. When landlords forget to offer leases at least 90 days prior to the expiration of the current lease, they forgo the right to raise the rent as soon as the law allows. Often landlords try to undo the mistake by back-dating the renewal offer, or by making the effective start date fewer than 90 days in the future.
You are not obligated to sign a renewal lease that has been back-dated, or which has a start date fewer than 90 days from when you receive it.

You can return the lease unsigned, send a letter explaining that you do want to renew a proper lease, but that this lease is invalid, and explain the reasons why it is invalid. Keep a copy of the letter you write. Also, photocopy the renewal lease before you return it, and keep the copy - as well as the envelope it came in (if the lease was offered by mail.) It's advisable to send the invalid renewal lease to your landlord by certified mail, return receipt requested - and keep the certified mail receipt.You may want to file a complaint with DHCR. You can use Form RA-90, Tenant's Complaint of Owner's Failure to Renew Lease and/or Failure to Furnish a Copy of a Signed Lease.

 

My landlord sent an incorrect/improper renewal lease, and after I complained, I was sent a proper renewal lease. Does the rent increase take effect 90 days after the first renewal was offered, or 90 days after the first PROPER renewal was sent?

The renewal takes effect 90 days after the first proper lease renewal was sent. If you reject an improper lease, you are advised to keep a copy of the improper lease - and the envelope it came in to prove the date of delivery - and to send a written explanation identifying the problems with the lease to your landlord, mailed certified mail, return receipt requested.

 

I informed my landlord that I do not want to renew my rent-stabilized lease, but now I changed my mind, what can I do?

Consult an experienced tenant attorney. See our information sheet on finding a lawyer.

 

Is my landlord entitled to raise the rent of my rent-stabilized apartment without sending me a lease renewal?

No - to be eligible for a rent increase, including those approved by the Rent Guidelines Board, your landlord must offer you a renewal lease.

Exceptions apply if your landlord is granted a Major Capital Improvement rent increase from HCR, or if your landlord performs an Individual Apartment Improvement in your unit. Those rent increases may take effect during a lease.

 

My landlord attached a rider asking me to provide additional personal information. Do I have to provide this information?

No - you are not required to provide any additional personal information to your landlord, and your landlord cannot refuse to offer you a renewal lease or move to end your tenancy based on your refusal to do so. Threats that your lease-renewal will not be processed unless you provide this additional information are void as against public policy. If your landlord asks who lives in your apartment, you are not required to indicate anything more than the name of any family members or roommate who live with you.

Generally, it is not in the best interest of tenants to provide information beyond the names of the apartment occupants. Landlords usually want this information in order to search public records or to aid a private investigator in their search for reasons why they can start eviction proceedings against you.

If your landlord, for example, did not ask you for your social security number before you moved in, you are not required to provide this information later. You also do not need to verify your income, source of income, or your credit-worthiness. In any circumstance, your landlord is not permitted to perform a credit check without your written consent. (The only situation in which you will be required to prove your income is if your apartment's legal rent exceeds $2,500 per month. In such cases, your landlord may ask you to verify whether your combined household income has exceeded $200,000 for the prior two years - factors which would subject your apartment to high-rent/high-income decontrol. In such cases, the verification of your income will be conducted by HCR, not your landlord. HCR will inform your landlord only whether it is above or below the threshold for high-rent/high-income decontrol.)

 

Can I add my spouse's name to the lease when I renew the lease?

Yes. If the apartment is rent-stabilized, you can ask your landlord to add your spouse to the lease at any time. You do not have to wait for lease-renewal time. Simply write a letter to your landlord asking that your spouse be added to the lease, and send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, Your landlord is not entitled to charge you a rent increase for this. You can include a copy of the marriage certificate if your landlord asks for proof.

If your landlord refuses, you can file a complaint with New York State Homes and Community Renewal using Form RA-90, Tenant's Complaint of Owner's Failure to Renew Lease and/or Failure to Furnish a Copy of a Signed Lease, or simply keep a copy of the letter with proof of mailing for future use. The Rent Stabilization Code states that a tenant "shall have the right to have his or her spouse, whether husband or wife, added to the lease or any renewal thereof as an additional tenant where said spouse resides in the housing accommodation as his or her primary residence."