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Westchester Rent-Stabilized

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Westchester Rent-Stabilized

Postby Paul_Smith » Sat May 30, 2020 2:22 pm

Hi everyone!  

I live in a rent-stabilized studio in Westchester. I have requested and received the registration apartment information from the div of housing and community renewal. 

1) I read "Number of Rooms: 2" at the top of the document, but really my unit is a studio with a separate bathroom and a doorless kitchen. Can that be counted as a unit with 2 rooms?

2) The second question is related to the first: the legal rent is in the $1,900 when it was in the $1,200 five years ago. Does registering the unit as a 2 room unit affect the legal rent? 

3) How much is the legal rent for a studio?

4) The last tenant shown on the document is the one who preceded me . I have been occupying the unit since 09.01.2019 but am not on the document. Is that normal?

Thanks!

Paul
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Re: Westchester Rent-Stabilized

Postby TenantNet » Sun May 31, 2020 12:05 pm

For RS units, the number of rooms usually does not matter, but it does come into play when calculating MCI rent increases.

DHCR has a Policy Statement regarding how to determine the room count. See https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documen ... formci.pdf

See if that answers your question.

Also, understand that Westchester Rent Stab is very similar to NYC rent stab ... but it's not exactly the same in all cases.

If the "legal" rent is/was exactly $1200 and $1900, then chances are the LL is committing a little fraud. That's because RGB increase result in almost never and exact amount.

Legal rents are based on a cumulative addition of percentages over time. There is no legal rent for a generic studio.

As for registrations, they are required to be sent to tenant (and filed with DHCR) by July 31 of each year. They must list the tenant and rent as it existed on April 1 of each year). So your name should not appear until the registration to be filed later this summer.
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Re: Westchester Rent-Stabilized

Postby Paul_Smith » Sun Jun 07, 2020 11:08 am

Thank you so much for your reply TenantNet

Sorry for the delayed response, I forgot to check this thread.

Looking at the registration document, it looks like the biggest jump in the legal rent (over $300) happened between a lease that ended in June 2018 and another one that started in September 2018. Between the two leases, the legal rent switched from 1,500s to 1,800s.

1) Is there any way that is legal?

2) Should I tell the landlord about it?

3) Should I file a complaint? (the landlord is charging me $500 less than the legal rent but the rent increase is based on the legal rent)

Thanks again!

Paul
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Re: Westchester Rent-Stabilized

Postby TenantNet » Sun Jun 07, 2020 12:00 pm

Do not approach the LL, at least not now. You need to do some quiet research without him knowing about it. Do you know how to contact the old tenant who had the place before you? You can ask your neighbors about any work that was done in the place. Most large increase are from apt. improvements between tenants (IAI's).

Look at the DHCR informational rider that should have been attached to your original lease. It's usually 12 pages and it should say how the new rent was calculated. Also look at the registrations going back a number of years to see the reason for all increases.

Then you can calculate the legal increases using the RGB percentages.

You will also need to look into the preferential rent as it applies to your apartment. PR rules were changed in 2019, so see if your lower rent is frozen for the life of your tenancy. And if there is an overcharge, you will need to see if that applies to the legal rent, the PR, or both.

Only after you've done all the research should you consider a complaint with DHCR. But make sure you do it within 4 years of your moving in (the SOL was changed to 6 years, but that might not apply to pre- June 2019 rents).
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Re: Westchester Rent-Stabilized

Postby Paul_Smith » Sun Jun 07, 2020 12:49 pm

Thank you so much for your reply.
I know the tenant who moved in in Sep. 2018. I'll ask them about any improvements.
For the $300 hike, the reason on the registration document for the change is "vac/lease". The unit has been vacant for 2 months (July and August 2018).

How can I check if my unit is rent-freezed? It looks like the board of Westchester has approved rent increase for RS units in summer 2019:
https://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/ ... 522739001/

My lease ends on Aug 31st. If I don't renew my lease but continue to pay (the same) rent each month after the lease ends, does this give the landlord the right to ask me to leave with a 1-month notice? Does it then become easy for him to evict me even if I'm paying the rent on time?

Thank you so much!
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Re: Westchester Rent-Stabilized

Postby TenantNet » Sun Jun 07, 2020 1:58 pm

See https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documen ... 20ETPA.pdf

This is the lease renewal form for ETPA tenants (Westchester and outside of NYC). Read the instructions very carefully as they outline the various deadlines. The LL is required to send you a renewal lease offer between 90 and 120 days prior to the current lease's expiration. That means today, 6/7/20, he's already late if you didn't get the renewal. (you didn't say)

In most cases, it's actually better to NOT get a renewal lease offer. You still retain your RS rights, and the rent does not go up. So why remind him?

As long as there is no new lease, the rent does not go up. Read the RTP-8 instructions.

That is also why - if you research the question about the legal rent, and if it's not that much, it's probably wiser to not make a stink with the LL if your rent is frozen. I know tenants where LL's didn't bother with renewal leases for ten years or more, and their rents didn't change. So consider the trade-offs.

The one-month notice is not for RS tenants (but double-check that with a tenant lawyer). Some say that if your lease expires and if you don't sign a renewal, then you become a month-to-month tenant (where the 1-month notice comes into play). But we believe the LL must have actually offered a renewal lease.
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Re: Westchester Rent-Stabilized

Postby Paul_Smith » Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:06 pm

Thanks for your reply.

The LL did offer to renew the lease. I guess that if I don't sign a new lease, there's a presumption that I will leave when the lease ends, right?

With COVID-19 and everything going on, how likely is it that the LL will let me rent for a few months after the lease ends and without signing a new lease? Am I right in presuming that fewer people are hunting apartments than in June 2019?
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Re: Westchester Rent-Stabilized

Postby TenantNet » Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:27 pm

Was it on the proper RTP-8 form? Was it the latest version (I think that's Sept. 2019), although in some case there are not that many differences. And was it the ETPA version?

If you don't sign and return it, then yes, the presumption is that your tenancy would be over at the end of the lease, however, there are tenants who stay making various claims. If the lease is incorrect as to level of rent, term of the lease or if the LL has added provisions (legally he cannot do that), then that might be a defense that the offer was improper.

As for a few months, some LL might allow it; others will not. But if you do stay, it will take time for the LL to bring a proceeding in court and we don't even know how long the courts will be closed. There will be a pent-up demand for LLs to bring new cases. I would think your actions through carefully.

Technically LLs can't offer RS leases for less than one year. But they can let the situation sleep for a while.

How many are looking for units? Have no clue, although yes, I've heard that less people will be looking due to COVID.
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