New York Rent Laws

What rights do I have as a tenant? -- the most often asked, generic and hard to answer question. In New York City, it's especially confusing given the overlapping quilt of laws, codes and agencies. Where does one turn and what law covers what problems?

Many tenants are rent regulated, meaning they are under either the old system of Rent Control or the relatively newer Rent Stabilization. Rent regulation covers three essential areas:

  • it limits the rate of rent increases
  • it limits the method, manner and grounds for evictions
  • it requires services to be maintained

Although there is overlap, in general Rent Regulation does not cover leases, court proceedings or building problems that might fall under the Building or Fire Codes or under the Housing Maintenance Code or the Multiple Dwelling Law.

The New York City Rent Stabilization Law (RSL) is the fundamental statute establishing Rent Stabilization regulation in New York City, and through the Rent Stabilization Code (RSC), 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.

Rent Increases for Rent Stabilized apartment units are provided by the annual NYC Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) Orders. At the end of a current lease, rent stabilized tenants have the option of renewing for one or two years at the current renewal percentage increase in the RGB orders. On a vacancy, the owner is allowed to add a vacancy increase on top of the renewal increase.

Note: the Rent Stabilization Law currently available on TenantNet does not reflect changes made in the law in 1993 for high rent and high income decontrol. These changes were made by the Rent Regulation "Reform" Act of 1993. We hope to update the RSL to reflect these changes as soon as possible.

The Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA) provided for rent stabilization in various municipalities (local opt-in) in Nassau, Rockland and Westchester counties predicated on a continuing housing emergency (i.e., vacancy rate less than 5%), amended the NYC Rent Stabilization Law, and ended the 1971 vacancy decontrol of rent stabilized units.

The Emergency Housing Rent Control Law (State Rent Control) was first enabled in 1946 and amended throughout the years. It continued Rent Control from the expiring Federal Emergency Price Control Act (EPCA).

The Local Emergency Housing Rent Control Act (City Rent Control) transferred the administration of rent control from the state government to the New York City government. New York State continued to administer rent control in other parts of the state.

The New York City Rent and Rehabilitation Law (N.Y.C. Admin. Code Sections 26-401 -- 26-415) enabled the Rent Control provisions in the NYC Administrative Code.

Still to come: the NYC Rent and Eviction Regulations, the NYS Rent and Eviction Regulations, the NYS Rent Stabilzation Regulations (ETPA) and DHCR Rules of Practice.

Electronic versions of the documents on TenantNet are for informational purposes only and there is no guarantee they will be accepted by any court (or even DHCR) as true copies of DHCR policy. The reader is advised to obtain true copies of these documents from DHCR. Every attempt has been made to conform to the original documents; TenantNet makes no representation the enclosed material is current or will be applied as written. The reader is advised that DHCR often fails to properly apply, interpret or enforce housing laws. Since housing laws are complex and often contradictory, it is recommended the reader obtain competent legal advice from a tenant attorney or counseling from a tenant association or community group.


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