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Rent Registration is incorrect - what do I do as a tenant?

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

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Rent Registration is incorrect - what do I do as a tenant?

Postby Drifter666 » Fri Mar 08, 2019 9:09 pm

My rent stabilized apartment had not been registered by my landlord for over 2 years. This past July is was incorrectly updated (falsified ?) by my landlord. He did NOT send me a copy. I made a request via DCHR's website and had it mailed to me.

My leases have never mentioned preferential rent. I do not understand how my ‘Legal Regulated Rent’ could have more than doubled from 2016 to 2017. I was not aware of any changes, or improvements in my building and I received no notice or paperwork about any changes. I am very afraid that my landlord will use this registration to try to increase my rent beyond a few percentage points or try to force me out of my apartment. My lease does not mention any preferential rent. My lease and the incorrect rent registration documents confirm I AM rent stabilized/

I do not want to tell or confront the landlord and would prefer to file an action or complaint with DCHR but am unsure which form or forum to use.

I have also never received the required rent stabilized rider with my renewal leases.

Can anyone provide advice on how to proceed about the false rent registration and getting it corrected as well as DCHR investigating ?

Any input would be appreciated.
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Rent Registration is incorrect - what do I do as a tenant?

Postby TenantNet » Sat Mar 09, 2019 12:13 am

This has to do with registrations, not leases, correct? If the latter, the rules might be different. First see DHCR's registration rules - see Fact Sheet No. 1 page 2-3:
http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/FactSheets/
http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/FactSheets/orafac1.pdf

But also dig around as you will find other rules, such as:
http://www.nyshcr.org/Apps/RentReg/Rest ... dments.pdf

So ever year for RS units, by July 31, LLs must register with DHCR showing the rents as they existed on April 1 of that year, also any changes in the lease, increases due to RGB, MCI, etc. They must also send you a copy.

Pay attention to the rule that no increases can be had during periods of no or false registration. Do your renewal leases also reflect this scam?

Of course many LLs fail to register hoping tenants won't notice.

Preferential rent must be indicated on your initial lease and all renewal leases (including a rider as applicable). See the DHCR Fact Sheet on Preferential Rents. If your initial lease did not have a Pref Rent rider, then you don't have it. The LL might be trying to illegally backdate a PR.

Or maybe the LL is just trying to pull a fast one.

You could go to either the courts or DHCR. DHCR is seen as LL friendly, but with the courts, it really depends on which judge you get, and would likely cost you a lot more, especially if you have a lawyer.

I would normally caution against using DHCR, but I have had two successive decisions in my favor regarding the LL playing games with leases. If you do choose to file a complaint with DHCR, I would at a minimum get a consultation with a tenant attorney. Show him/her all the documents and they can clarify the issues and explain what you might need to obtain before you file with DHCR.

Regarding the DHCR informational rider, well it is required by law, but to be honest, I've never seen a case turn on it not being provided.

For lease violations, go to https://rent.hcr.ny.gov/RentConnect/Ten ... onOverview
or file form RA-90 - http://www.nyshcr.org/Forms/Rent/ra90.pdf

For overcharges, go to https://rent.hcr.ny.gov/RentConnect/Ten ... geOverview
or file form RA-89 - http://www.nyshcr.org/Forms/Rent/ra89.pdf

Either of these overlap with registration issues; they deal with lease or overcharge. You can call DHCR at 718-739-6400 to see which one they recommend.
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Re: Rent Registration is incorrect - what do I do as a tenan

Postby kfgreenpoint » Thu Jan 02, 2020 2:52 pm

I am going through a similar issue. Have you made any progress on this?

I am in a rent stabilized lease and requested my rent history from DHCR. When the current owner bought the building, they found out that past ownership was not registering correctly with DHCR. They retroactively filed rents but it seems that the rents are far above where they should be given the lack of correct filing. I would prefer to settle this with the landlord outside of courts. Any recommendations?

@TenantNet - I am interested your post above where you say "Pay attention to the rule that no increases can be had during periods of no or false registration." Where can I find this rule?
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Re: Rent Registration is incorrect - what do I do as a tenan

Postby Drifter666 » Thu Jan 02, 2020 3:13 pm

I filed for RA89 from NYC DCHR (google it) last April.
It is still waiting to be assigned. I'm told things move VERY slowly.
If it come time to renew your lease and the amounts are wrong you can fight it.
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Re: Rent Registration is incorrect - what do I do as a tenan

Postby TenantNet » Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:16 pm

Drifter, yes things go slowly at DHCR. Use this tool to see actual status.

First, I would check to see if anything with your issue is impacted by the HSTPA - the new rent laws. If so, you should bring it to DHCR's attention. Look at these documents for information on HSTPA.

Not having re-read the previous posts from last year, I don't know if RA-89 is the correct form. That's for overcharge. Did you actually pay an overcharge, or just contesting what the LL is demanding? Now, DHCR is supposed to recognize the two and change it to the proper type of complaint, but they don't always do that. Did you call DHCR and describe the situation to their hot line, and ask what type of complaint you should file?

I would consider a lease violation complaint, or both. If you do file a separate complaint, make sure you tell DHCR you have already filed an overcharge complaint, so as not to surprise them.
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Re: Rent Registration is incorrect - what do I do as a tenan

Postby TenantNet » Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:32 pm

Kfgreenpoint

Yes, AFAIK LL's are able to register retroactively.

As you don't give us any information, we can't comment on the rent levels the new owner is seeking. You should file a complaint with DHCR challenging whatever they are seeking. In general, they can't go back and add on fees that the old landlord might have waived.

As to the rule that freezes increases during false registration, that is in the Rent Stab. Code, but I would poke around the DHCR web site -- fact sheets, policy statements, etc. I know it's in there, just don't have the time right now to look it up. :(
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Re: Rent Registration is incorrect - what do I do as a tenan

Postby kfgreenpoint » Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:13 pm

@TenantNet

A bit more about my situation:

I am in a building that was newly constructed in about 2010. I signed a lease (including RS rider) and was surprised to find out that all 130 units in the building are rent stabilized. I requested my rent history through DHCR and saw that the initial legal regulated rent was $3,200. The following year the legal regulated rent jumped to $4215 and the reason for the change is listed IMPRVMNT. This is a newly constructed building and even the current owner has acknowledged that this was likely a "mistake." The building has gone through several ownership changes but it seems the current owner filed all of this info retroactively in an attempt to keep their 421a benefits.

It seems clear that this was falsley and illegally increased so at this point I am trying to figure out if I should try to settle with the landlord or file a DHCR complaint. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!
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Re: Rent Registration is incorrect - what do I do as a tenan

Postby TenantNet » Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:32 pm

This is likely a 421-a (state) or MIH (city) program where so-called "affordable housing" is constructed in exchange for RS status. Obviously $3,200 is not affordable for most people and it's pure BS. But that's how the city and state set these things up.

Putting aside the changes of the HSTPA that limit MCIs and IAIs, it probably is a mistake. Did they say what the "imprvmnt" is for? That makes a difference.

I don't know why they need to make improvements to keep 421-a status. That doesn't make sense - without more information.

I would write the LL cert mail, cite their previous acknowledgment of the mistake, and asking them to re-register the unit with the correct legal rent.

Failing that, then you can file with DHCR.

Also see if you've made any overpayments. Ask for refund and failing that, file an overcharge complaint.
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Re: Rent Registration is incorrect - what do I do as a tenan

Postby kfgreenpoint » Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:53 pm

@TenantNet

Thanks for the quick reply! I can send you the rent registration privately but I'm not sure how.

You're exactly right re: 421a status. Not sure how they were able to qualify for the tax benefits given the rents, but that ship has sailed.

The "IMPRVMNT" does not list any other info. I did not mean that they filed the improvement to keep 421a status, but rather they registered rents retroactively so the would not lose the benefit. I looked on DOF and the landlord saves almost $1.2MM/year with 421a.

Either way, my current rent matches what is filed with the DHCR. My issue is that there was a drastic jump in the legal regulated rent prior to my tenancy due to the falsely filed "IMPRVMNT." I am simply identifying that the landlord made a false registration statement prior to my tenancy, which is causing my legally regulated rent to be higher than it should be. Hope that makes sense.
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Re: Rent Registration is incorrect - what do I do as a tenan

Postby TenantNet » Sat Feb 01, 2020 3:40 pm

So they didn't specify the improvement? Did they do any work in your unit after you moved in? (if they did it before you moved in, it would have to be on your initial lease).

Any records of a building-wide MCI? Ask other tenants. Have other tenants also experienced this?

So contact the LL to have him a) correct the registration and b) refund any overpayments you made. If not, you can go to DHCR.

I would also dig deeper and the entire 421-a application. You may have to FOIL documents from DHCR, HPD or elsewhere, but that is how you catch these guys. And do you know if the LL has other buildings? If so, do the research and think class action.
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