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Wasn't provided a vacancy lease, sketchy renewal

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

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Wasn't provided a vacancy lease, sketchy renewal

Postby SirBeauchard » Tue Aug 10, 2021 6:02 pm

Hello!

We moved into our apartment in October 2020 signing a lease that is typical to those I had in other cities. When we were looking to rent the apartment, the broker confirmed with the LL that the unit is RS. We are paying Preferred Rent, and last week we got a call from LL saying that there is interest in the unit, and we'd have to pay the Legal Rent to renew.

I've done my homework, read the fact sheets, called DHCR, and am currently figuring out either what to say to LL or if I should go straight to filing Rent Overcharge and a Lease Violation with DHCR.

I requested, received, and reviewed the Registration History for my apartment, and confirmed our names are listed as well as being RS. What's concerning though is that LL submitted the Preferred Rate at what our lease claims is the Legal Rate. Confirming we're RS, I know that with HSPTA of 2019 LL could only charge us based on Preferred Rate.

In regard to the lease, we were not provided a normal Vacancy Lease when we moved in, we've just had the lease that tries to avoid mentioning RS. No riders either.

Basically, my questions are:
1. Should we talk to LL first or file with DHCR? LL is very sketchy.
2. Do we need to do something regarding the vacancy lease, or is getting an official RS renewal lease enough?
3. If LL claims we must pay the legal rate, what's our best course of action come the end of the current lease? Continue paying our Preferred Rate with the 0% increase? Pay the legal rate and wait for the results of Rent Overcharge? We just don't want to get evicted.

Thanks for any help, and I'm happy to provide more info!
SirBeauchard
 
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Re: Wasn't provided a vacancy lease, sketchy renewal

Postby TenantNet » Tue Aug 10, 2021 7:00 pm

Short answer is what the LL is doing is illegal. LLs cannot increase the Pref Rent during the tenancy and any increase have to be by the RGB percentages applied to the existing Pref Rent amounts (not the higher legal rents)

I'm a bit tied up right now, but send a reply to this post in a few days (late Thu or Fri) and I'll get to it as soon as possible. Right now there are 2 people in front of you, but I should be able to provide some details. So far there's been no actual overcharge.

All RS renewal leases must be on DHCR form RTP-8. Read the instructions carefully. Look at the dates the LL sent you the form carefully. If late, that means the lease will start at a later date. And without a lease, there can be no increases.

Did the LL put his new demand in writing? He cannot legally refuse to renew the lease.

Before 2019, things were a bit more complicated. But you moved in in 2020.

Your statement, "What's concerning though is that LL submitted the Preferred Rate at what our lease claims is the Legal Rate." is a bit confusing. Please explain what the LL put on the lease, and what he put on the yearly registrations. In some cases, it might be better to do nothing.

I would hold off talking to the LL for now. When you say there was no vacancy lease, please explain. And you did not receive the required DHCR informational rider, correct?

What date does the current lease expire? When were you mailed the RTP-8 renewal offer? Again, see the instructions. They must give you 90-150 days.

Given what you've said, I can't see how you would be evicted. Remember, all renewals must be on the same terms and conditions as the expiring lease. LLs can no longer go back to the legal rent during the course of the tenancy.
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Re: Wasn't provided a vacancy lease, sketchy renewal

Postby SirBeauchard » Wed Aug 11, 2021 1:01 pm

Thanks for your reply, and appreciate your help. Happy to wait!

All RS renewal leases must be on DHCR form RTP-8. Read the instructions carefully. Look at the dates the LL sent you the form carefully. If late, that means the lease will start at a later date. And without a lease, there can be no increases.


We haven't been given anything regarding the renewal, forms, or otherwise, aside from LL calling us on August 2 to say the renewal rent would be raised. At the time we told him to provide it in writing but haven't received anything yet.

Your statement, "What's concerning though is that LL submitted the Preferred Rate at what our lease claims is the Legal Rate." is a bit confusing. Please explain what the LL put on the lease, and what he put on the yearly registrations.


Here are the parts of the lease that pertain to rent:
2. RENT - The rent for the term hereof is the sum of Three Thousand Dollars ($3,000.00) per Month, due on the 1ST day of each month of the term. All such payments shall be made to Landlord at Landlord's address as set forth in Section 42 of this Agreement on or before the due date and without demand.


42. MONTHLY RENT AMOUNT – Based on this year’s DHCR guidelines for this apartment, the monthly rent for a one (1) year lease is $3,550.00. Although the DHCR guidelines permit us to charge the above monthly rates, it is our policy to keep the rent reasonable and affordable to loyal tenants in good standing. For this reason – please note that for 1-year lease you will receive a “lower” and “preferential” monthly rent of $3,000 (instead of legally permitted $3,550.00. And when your lease is next year due for renewal, if possible, we will again offer you’re a lower & preferential monthly rent.


The DHCR registration lists Legal Regulated Rent at $3596.20, and Prefer. Rent at $3550.00.

I would hold off talking to the LL for now. When you say there was no vacancy lease, please explain. And you did not receive the required DHCR informational rider, correct?

Correct, we received a "New York Residential Lease Agreement" that is similar to this example PDF: https://devlegalsimpli.blob.core.windows.net/pdfseoforms/pdf-20180219t134432z-001/pdf/new-york-standard-residential-lease-agreement-template.pdf?sv=2018-03-28&si=readpolicy&sr=c&sig=MXHnWmn0sXNXztiU%2Bugk2d7DV7KBCOuXF3oBMx0EeEw%3D

The only mention of DHCR or anything regarding RS is in Section 42 above. No additional riders, just the single lease agreement. We were told it was RS, and the registration says so as well. I believe I was thinking there was a specific lease (like how the renewal form looks). We did not receive a rider or anything that looks like https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2021/07/ra-lr1-09-2019.pdf

What date does the current lease expire? When were you mailed the RTP-8 renewal offer? Again, see the instructions. They must give you 90-150 days.

It expires October 14, 2021. We were not mailed the RTP-8, and I don't think they were going to provide one. So far just that one phone call.

Regarding eviction, I think my concern is just if somehow we weren't RS since we never got the rider, and I've just been assuming that I'm in the right.

Again, thank you very much!
SirBeauchard
 
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Re: Wasn't provided a vacancy lease, sketchy renewal

Postby TenantNet » Fri Aug 13, 2021 6:38 am

Preferential Rents apply ONLY to RS units and they can be confusing as to how they are applied The rules were changed in 2019. I would start here: https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documen ... 9-2019.pdf

Before June 2019, if you had a PR, the LL could increase that up to the legal rent but only upon lease renewal. Now they can't raise it until you leave, so any return to the legal rent can only happen for the next tenant. A PR can be established only when you take occupancy and must be a rider in your initial vacancy lease to that effect. (renewals must be on the same terms and conditions as the expiring lease). Any increases from the RGB can be applied to the lower PR that you are paying.

LLs bet that tenants don't know their rights as to PR, and they often will not put things in writing. ALWAYS get things in writing; you can ignore anything that is not or just verbal. I just tell my LL, send me a letter. If they say something is "pursuant to law," with out citing anything in particular, I tell them to send me the law.

All renewals must be offered on DHCR form RTP-8 (https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documen ... llable.pdf) and no other form. Read the instructions carefully, then read them again 3 more times. They must deliever it to you feom 90-150 days prior to the end of the lease. If they are late, then the commencement date of the renewal lease gets put back. They cannot back-date leases.

So if you got an offer today, add 90 days (Nov 13) and that means a renewal can't take effect until the next rent payment date (most cases that would be Dec. 1).

Lease renewals must also be sent with a copy of the DHCR informational rider.

If they don't send you an offer, I know that can be stressful, but for many reasons, there's not much the LL can lawfully do other than harass you. I usually tell tenants to do nothing. The longer the LL fails to offer a written renewal, that means any rent increase gets put into the future. That's why you should not talk with the LL. They know what they have to do. DO NOT remind them.

You can file with DHCR for failure to send a renewal lease, but unless there is a compelling reason to do so, I would say don't do it. There is no overcharge unless you've actually paid over the legal amount.

You got the rent history, which is good. Did it go back to 1984? If not, ask again. What about the yearly registrations for each year you've been there? They must be sent out by 7/31 of each year.

Initial leases can vary, but they are often RSA, REBNY or Blumberg standard leases. As for what might be in (or not in) the vacancy lease, I can't say.

If LL says you must pay the legal rate, wait until he puts it in writing, and then you can reply saying there is no renewal lease (yet). A lot depends on how the situation develops. I would just pay the same rent, if you can.

The new RGB order (#53) says zero rent on a 1-year renewal for the first six months, but there would be an increase the second six months, or on a 2-year renewal. So the longer this goes on, probably the better for you. I strongly advise against paying the legal rent and filing an overcharge. DHCR can take years and are strongly pro-landlord. I strongly doubt you will even get close to an eviction. Courts are VERY backed-up. Just keep paying the same PR until a new renewal kicks in (legally). Make copies of any check and send by Certificate of Mailing. (cheaper than certified mail). But on lease renewals, do send those by certified mail.

Also file the Hardship declaration (even though the courts just said they are no good) and file for ERAP if you qualify.

As for Para. 2 (Rent), that might be a Pref. Rent.

Para. 42 that is likely the legal rent. But an even number like $3,550 could mean there was an overcharge somewhere along the way. That's where a rent history comes into play. When RGB increases are followed, you don't get even numbers like $3,550.

Another interpretation might be that Para. 2 and 42 are inconsistent. But that's a whole other thing. For now I'd look at $3,000 and $3,550. I would keep researching to see how it got up to $3,550.

The lease also doesn't take into account the 2019 changes to the law ("if possible, we will again offer you’re a lower..."), but that may be irrelevant.

OK, so the registration is inconsistent with the initial lease. You could file for an administrative determination, but that could take years and as I said, DHCR is biased. Unless there's an actual overcharge, it might not be worth the effort.

On the initial lease you did get, a VERY quick scan looks like it's a standard thing, but I didn't read through it. And I'm not an attorney or lease expert. But any lease or renewal must also have the DHCR initial rider.

Lease expiration. Most expire at the end of a month, but there are exceptions.

So for now, just sit tight and don't talk to the LL. Just wait for the RTP-8.
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