Shortly after I moved into my apartment a year ago, I learned that my apartment building is listed on the city housing department's website as rent stabilized. I was never told this by my landlord and was given a regular market-rate lease. It was at a really good rate, though -- $1000 for a fairly spacious one-bedroom in a good location. My landlord also refused to clean or paint the apartment before I moved in, and I spent many hours scrubbing it top to bottom after the previous tenant, who was a complete pig. I decided not to say anything unless he tried to raise my rent.
Well, now my lease is up for renewal and I just received notice from my landlord that my rent is going from $1000 a month to $1100 a month. Help! What should I do? I can't afford to move, I don't want to give up my apartment (although the landlord is a schmuck, it's a great place), and I don't want to end up on any sort of tenant blacklist. Any suggestions?
You have the right to file a Fair Market Rent Appeal (FMRA). According to the Rent Guidelines Board:
An FMRA is a challenge to that negotiated rent, and it must be filed by the tenant within ninety days after the notice to the tenant of the initial legal registered rent. [...] If the tenant challenges this initial legal registered rent and the rent is found to be excessive, the rent as adjusted by DHCR will become the Adjusted Initial Legal Rent, or the Legal Regulated Rent. If the appeal is denied or if no appeal is filed within the ninety-day period, then the negotiated initial legal registered rent becomes the lawful rent, not subject to challenge. All future rent increases, whether for a renewal or vacancy lease, are subject to limitations provided under the Rent Stabilization Law.
So, basically, you can eat the extra cost, or file an appeal. Technically, your rent could have only been increased by 3.5% for a 1 year lease (so the new rent on an apartment that rents for $1000 a month would be $1035, right?). Good luck!
There's lots of other information on rent stabilization at the Rent Guidelines Board website linked above.
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