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RS apartment and longer than 4 yr look back

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

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RS apartment and longer than 4 yr look back

Postby renter2018 » Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:04 am

I moved into my RS apartment in 2005. LL gave me Preferential Rent. Rent is now increasing above the recommended RGB guidelines for second time (first time was last year). I understand that is his choice due to our initial lease being for what I think is just for the length of the lease and not our tenancy.

I ordered and received my rent history from DHCR back to 1984. There is missing data for some years. The legal rent when I moved into the apartment in 2005 is actually incorrectly calculated, but is still higher than my Pref Rent at the time.

Back in the 80s the apartment was Rent Controlled. The Rent Controlled tenant seemed to be here until 1991 (perhaps longer. hard to tell due to missing info between 1991 and 1995). The next tenant listed is in 1995. Again, there is missing registration information for the rent for several years. The rent for the 1995 tenant in the vacancy lease was a round number and almost $700 increase over the 1991 rent controlled tenant. Also the 1995 increase is listed from DHCR as being registered in 1993. That seems fishy. Also, from 1995 the reporting looks solid although the increases are a little off. Meaning sometimes the Legal Rent is higher than the calculations come out to be.

I know that in cases of fraud, the DHCR can look back more than 4 years. In my case, would they look back to the 90s with this fishy $700 rent increase? I can’t challenge my Pref Rent increase, but I’m wondering if I can challenge the legal rent itself from the 90s which of course would affect my legal rent today? Do I have any sort of case with this? Thank you!
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Re: RS apartment and longer than 4 yr look back

Postby TenantNet » Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:24 am

Pref Rents can get a bit complicated. First thing to do is absorb the DHCR view of PR. See http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/FactSheets/orafac40.pdf

If the initial lease had a rider allowing the PR to be lifted on subsequent renewal leases, then that can be done. But if there was no rider, or the LL failed to attach the rider on subsequent renewal leases, then the LL can't withdraw the PR.

You have to look at the fine print of the PR rider, and see exactly what it says. Without seeing it, I can't offer an opinion. You can always complain, but that's no assurance of winning.

As for the rent history, as I think you know, tenants can make overcharge claims going back 4 years. You can go beyond that if there is a showing of fraud. Of course how fraud is defined is what disputes are all about. DHCR might decide the missing data was inadvertent, ergo not fraud. But again, it depends on the details.

I don't doubt that the LL manipulated the rent in the 90's, but getting DHCR or a court to look at it after so many years would be a very steep climb. You would likely need a good bit more evidence than just a "fishy" increase to go after this.
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Re: RS apartment and longer than 4 yr look back

Postby renter2018 » Sat Oct 27, 2018 9:20 pm

Most helpful! Thank you. There definitely was a rider as far as I can remember. I haven't been able to find the original lease so still looking. Not only is there the fishy 90s increase, but the increase on the legal rent increases along the way don't make sense even with an 18 or 20 percent vacancy increase. My legal rent should be lower than it is. This does nothing to the cost of my rent, but perhaps can keep the rent stabilization longer.

All in all, my thinking had been that if the legal rent was lower then perhaps my preferential rent was too high. I have a couple of round numbers as the legal rent during my history and I've read that can be suspicious. Also, there are missing years around when the apartment went from rent controlled to rent stabilized. I feel like I'm trying to fight the legal rent because maybe my preferential rent wasn't actually preferential. Just trying to find a way around the huge increase of 10 percent. Thx for all the help!
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Re: RS apartment and longer than 4 yr look back

Postby BubbaJoe123 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:32 am

TenantNet wrote:If the initial lease had a rider allowing the PR to be lifted on subsequent renewal leases, then that can be done. But if there was no rider, or the LL failed to attach the rider on subsequent renewal leases, then the LL can't withdraw the PR.


Just to be clear, if the LL wants to retain the option to not offer a PR on a renewal lease, and instead charge the legal rent, they need to have done two things:

1. Show the legal AND preferential rent on the original lease, and all subsequent renewals. If only one rent amount is shown on the lease, or on a renewal, then that amount becomes the legal rent.

2. Neither the original lease (including riders), nor any renewals (including riders), can have said that the preferential rent is for the life of the tenancy. If they either (a) say that it's just for the term of that particular lease, or (b) are silent on the term of the PR, then the preferential rent is presumed to not be for the life of the tenancy.
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Re: RS apartment and longer than 4 yr look back

Postby BubbaJoe123 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:42 am

renter2018 wrote:Most helpful! Thank you. There definitely was a rider as far as I can remember. I haven't been able to find the original lease so still looking. Not only is there the fishy 90s increase, but the increase on the legal rent increases along the way don't make sense even with an 18 or 20 percent vacancy increase. My legal rent should be lower than it is. This does nothing to the cost of my rent, but perhaps can keep the rent stabilization longer.

All in all, my thinking had been that if the legal rent was lower then perhaps my preferential rent was too high. I have a couple of round numbers as the legal rent during my history and I've read that can be suspicious. Also, there are missing years around when the apartment went from rent controlled to rent stabilized. I feel like I'm trying to fight the legal rent because maybe my preferential rent wasn't actually preferential. Just trying to find a way around the huge increase of 10 percent. Thx for all the help!


When a rent controlled apartment becomes vacant (and leaves the rent control system), the landlord is allowed to charge whatever rent the market will bear. If that rent is below the high-rent deregulation threshold, then the apartment becomes rent-stabilized. If it's above, then the apartment becomes unregulated. In either case, the first post-rent-control tenant is allowed to file a Fair Market Rent Appeal (http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/FactSheets/orafac6.pdf), arguing that the rent they're being charged is above what comparable units attract.

So, since the initial post-rent-control rent is a negotiated, rather than calculated number, it's not unusual for that to be a round number. The later round numbers are dubious, unless the LL was offering preferential rents (which often are round numbers) and logging those with DHCR as the legal rent. That would be dumb of the LL, but people do dumb things.
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