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Leases and Rent Increases

Leases and Rent Increases


This section contains information on the following:

  • New leases
  • Adding other persons to your lease
  • Lease renewal
  • Lease increase information
  • Preferential rent lease information



New Leases, Payments, Deposits and Surcharges

Lease Documents

Rent Stabilization

When a person rents a rent stabilized apartment for the first time, the owner and the tenant sign what is called a VACANCY LEASE, which states the terms and conditions of the lease, including the length of the lease, and the rights and responsibilities of the tenant and the owner.

You are entitled to:

A one or two-year lease

In addition, the Vacancy Lease Rider/Addenda completed by the owner must be attached.

For more information on ‘Vacancy Leases’ and vacancy lease calculations please see:

Fact Sheet #40: Preferential Rents



Owners are not required to accept rent checks signed from anyone who is not the primary tenant on record.

For additional information:

HCR Opinion Letter - August 22, 2002: COL-1328
Summary - Third Party Checks


Security Deposits

When a person initially rents an apartment, the owner may collect a security deposit.

The amount of a security deposit for rent regulated apartments can be no more than one month's rent.

The security deposit must be kept by the owner in an interest bearing account in a New York State bank.


More information about Security Deposits:

Fact Sheet #9: Renting an Apartment - Security Deposits and other Charges – Explains everything you need to know about security charges and other expenses you may encounter when renting a new rent stabilized apartment.

Surcharges & Fees

Find more information on this topic in the Surcharges and Fees section.

Surcharges and Fees




Adding Persons or Pets & Subletting


When only one tenant is named on a lease, the tenant has the right to take in a roommate and the roommate's dependent children.

When two or more tenants are named on the lease, the number of tenants and roommates cannot exceed the number of tenants named in the lease.

In all situations, occupancy may be restricted in order to comply with municipal regulations concerning overcrowding.


Rent Stabilized Roommates

In a rent stabilized apartment, the rent collected from the roommate cannot exceed their proportionate share of the apartment. For example, the roommate can’t be charged more than half of the total rent.

The roommate can be advised to file a complaint of rent overcharge with the Office of Rent Administration if they were charged in excess of that proportionate share.


Rent Control Roommates

In a rent controlled apartment, a roommate may not be charged an amount of rent that is in excess of the legal rent for the apartment.

Any determination of a rent overcharge is under the jurisdiction of the civil court.




A tenant can add his or her spouse to the lease or any lease renewal if the apartment is the primary residence of said spouse, without creating a new tenancy or incurring any vacancy rent increases.


Domestic Partners & Family Members

If a tenant adds additional names of any non-spouse, including family or domestic partners, the owner is entitled to a vacancy rent increase.

However, if the primary tenant permanently vacates the apartment, domestic partners or family members may have succession rights.
Fact Sheet #30: Succession Rights Protection for Tenants


For detailed information about adding spouses, domestic partners or family members, please see:

Opinion Letter #COL-1906: Adding a Non Spouse's Name to Lease
Summary - Adding a Non-Spouse's Name to the Lease


Opinion Letter #COL-1416: Domestic Partnership Certificate and Succession
Summary - Domestic Partnership Certificate and Succession




A tenant who sublets an apartment to another person is the prime tenant. The person to whom the apartment is sublet is the subtenant. In a sublet situation, the prime tenant must abide by the rent stabilization rules that govern the building owner.


To learn the proper procedures for legally subletting an apartment, please see :

Fact Sheet #7: Sublets Assignments & Illusory Tenancies



The ability to have a pet in a rent stabilized or rent controlled apartment is largely dependent upon the lease.

Owners cannot charge pet registrations or fees as this would constitute increased rent and owners cannot increase rent outside of the legal rent increases.


For exceptions to pet clauses in leases, please see:

Opinion Letter - #COL-1552 - Summary - NYC Pet Laws - September 9, 2003



Lease Renewal Documents

For rent stabilized apartment

Tenants in rent stabilized apartments have a right to select a one or two year renewal lease term. Generally, the renewal lease must keep the same terms and conditions as the expiring lease.

For more information, please see:

Fact Sheet #4: Lease Renewal in Rent Stabilized Apartments


The owner must give written notice of renewal by mail or personal delivery not more than 150 days and not less than 90 days before the existing lease expires.

If a tenant has not received the renewal lease within the specified time, that tenant should first contact the owner to obtain a lease. If the owner fails to provide a renewal lease, the tenant has a right to file a complaint with the Office of Rent Administration (ORA) on form:

Form - Rent - Failure to Renew Lease or Provide a Copy of a Signed Lease - Tenant Complaint Form - RA-90


Failure to sign and return your lease renewal within 60 days can be grounds for eviction. The owner can request that ORA mediate the issue. Mediation is used to resolve the problem without the owner having to go to court.



For rent controlled apartments

Tenants in rent controlled apartments are not obligated to sign a lease.




Lease Increases

General Rent Increases

The owner may charge a rent increase based on guidelines annually announced by the applicable Rent Guidelines Board.


For more information, see:

Fact Sheet #26: Guide to Rent Increases for Rent Stabilized Apartments in New York City



Apartment/building improvement increases

Major Capital Increase (MCI) or Individual Apartment Increase (IAI)

Please see the MCI and IAI section below:

Individual Apartment and Capital Improvements


Fact Sheets


    Fact Sheet #40: Preferential Rents

    A preferential rent is a rent which an owner agrees to charge that is lower than the legal regulated rent that the owner could lawfully collect. This document explains preferential rent in more detail.




Opinion Letters