Living Conditions

Living Conditions and Essential Services

Living Conditions and Essential Services
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Overview

Under the rent regulation law, an owner must provide and maintain required or essential services for tenants. This includes repairs, heat, hot and cold water, maintenance, painting and janitorial services, elevator service, and ancillary services such as garage and recreational facilities. This may include services that were provided but not registered by the owner with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR).

 

There are several publications listed below that provide information on a variety of topics, such as essential services, vacate orders, de minimis conditions, rent reductions, and more. For a detailed explanation of required and essential services, heat and hot water, rent reductions, and de minimis conditions, see the Fact Sheet section. To find applications for a rent reduction based on a decrease in individual or building-wide services, a lack of heat and/or hot water, owner non-compliance, and more, see the Forms section.

Your Rights

Tenants who experience a decrease in required or essential services in their apartment may file a service complaint by filing form RA-81, Application for a Rent Reduction Based Upon Decreased Service(s) - Individual Apartment, with the Office of Rent Administration (ORA). For decreases in building-wide services, tenants may file form RA-84, Application for a Rent Reduction Based Upon Decreased Building-Wide Service(s) with ORA. 

 

Examples of a decrease in services include defective electrical outlets, broken windows, unsanitary common areas (halls, lobby), and broken door locks. For more information on required or essential services, see Fact Sheet #3. For more information on rent reductions for decreased services, see Fact Sheet #14.

 

Tenants who experience a lack of heat and/or hot water in their apartment may file a service complaint by filing form HHW-1, Failure to Provide Heat and/or Hot Water, with ORA. For a building-wide lack of heat and/or hot water, tenants may file a service complaint by filing form RA-84. Complaints that are filed based on a lack of heat and/or hot water must be accompanied by a report from the appropriate city, county or municipal agency finding such lack of heat and/or hot water. For more information on when heat and hot water must be provided for rent regulated buildings inside and outside New York City, see Fact Sheet #15.

 

If the owner fails to comply with a DHCR service order within 30 days after the issue date of the order, the tenant can file form RA-22.1, Tenant Affirmation of Non-Compliance, to request that a compliance proceeding be initiated.

 

Service complaints for individual apartments may be filed online through Rent Connect.

 

Rent Connect

 

Owners who restore required or essential services may file a rent restoration application online through the Owner Rent Regulation Applications (ORRA) system.

 

ORRA

 

Fire Damaged/Vacate Order Apartments

Tenants who are displaced from their rent-regulated apartment due to a fire and/or a vacate order that was issued for their apartment or the entire building by any New York City agency or local municipal agency, may submit a service complaint with the Office of Rent Administration (ORA) by filing form RA-81, Application for a Rent Reduction Based on Decreased Service(s) - Individual Apartment. 

 

DHCR may order the rent to be reduced to $1.00 per month for the period that the tenant is unable to occupy their apartment. The rent will remain at $1.00 until the owner applies for rent restoration with DHCR and receives a rent restoration order.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) If a tenant received a service reduction order, how can he or she calculate the reduced rent for a rent stabilized apartment?

On the effective date specified in the Order, the legal regulated rent is reduced to the level in effect prior to the most recent guidelines increase.

For example, on July 1, 2019, a tenant’s rent is $1000.00. On October 1, 2019, when the tenant’s two-year renewal lease begins, the legal regulated rent increases by 2.5% to $1025.00 per month. When a rent reduction is ordered on December 1, 2019, the rent will be reduced to $1000.00 per month. However, where the most recent guideline adjustment/increase is 0% for a one-year lease and the rent remains at $1000 per month under the one-year renewal lease, DHCR will not authorize a rent decrease for the tenant but will “freeze” the rent at the amount being collected.

Similarly, tenants who receive a rent reduction order during the term of their vacancy lease will also have their rent frozen as opposed to reduced. An exception to this would be in those situations where the Rent Guidelines Board authorizes the collection of a guideline increase for a vacancy lease and this increase was added to the tenant’s vacancy lease rent.

No increase will be allowed until a DHCR rent restoration order is issued. For more information, see Fact Sheet #14.

 

2) What can an owner do to obtain necessary access to make necessary repairs and avoid rent decreases or restore a rent reduction?

The owner needs to submit two copies of letters to the tenant attempting to arrange for access. Each letter must be sent by certified mail at least eight days prior to the proposed access date, with a return receipt requested. For more information, see Fact Sheet #14.

 

3) What options does a tenant have when an owner is not maintaining services?

If services are not being maintained, it is recommended but not required, for the tenant to first inform the owner in writing. If the written notice does not resolve the problem, the tenant may file a complaint with DHCR. For an individual complaint about apartment conditions, the tenant may file form RA-81, Application For A Rent Reduction Based Upon Decreased Service(s) – Individual Apartment.

For complaints about building-wide conditions, the tenant may file form RA-84, Application For a Rent Reduction Based Upon Decreased Building – Wide Service(s). For complaints about heat or hot water, the tenant may file form HHW-1, Failure to Provide Heat and/or Hot Water – Tenant Application for Rent Reduction. Complaints about apartment conditions or heat and/or hot water may be submitted online through Rent Connect. For more information, see Fact Sheet #14.

Note- Because the owner is responsible for maintaining services and equipment, the tenant cannot act independently to replace any equipment. The tenant must first receive permission from the owner by entering into a mutual consent agreement.

 

4) Many rent-regulated tenants, who do not have cable television service, receive TV broadcasting through an analog Building Master Television Antenna. Federal law now requires a transition from analog to digital television broadcasting. How does this affect the service of Master Television Antenna, where said antenna is a required service?

The owner needs to find a technological alternative or upgrade, such as a new, updated master antenna, that enables tenants to continue to have television service. Tenants are responsible to purchase, at their expense, analog-to-digital converter boxes for their televisions. For more information on the analog-to-digital switch, log on to http://www.fcc.gov/digital-television.

For more information, see Fact Sheet #3, and Fact Sheet #14.

 

5)  If a tenant vacated a rent-regulated apartment because of a fire or a vacate order issued by a government agency, is the owner entitled to a rent increase where the apartment has been restored and the subject tenant moves back in?

An owner is not entitled to a rent increase if the apartment is restored to its previous condition, even if the owner has not been fully reimbursed by insurance proceeds. However, if the owner installs new equipment not previously provided in the apartment, the owner can charge a temporary Individual Apartment Improvement (IAI) rent increase if the subject tenant provides the owner with written consent to the rent increase. If written consent is not provided, the rent cannot be increased.

If a new tenant is going to move into the apartment, the owner is then entitled to add a temporary IAI rent increase for any new piece of equipment not previously provided in the apartment, where the prior tenant did not provide written consent. However, the rent increase would only apply to that new equipment, not the cost of restoring the apartment to its previous condition.

Fact Sheets

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    Fact Sheet #3: Required and Essential Services

    This Fact Sheet contains information on required and essential services, which include repairs, heat, hot and cold water, maintenance, painting and janitorial services, elevator service and ancillary services such as garage and recreational facilities. Owners must provide and maintain services and equipment furnished or required by Rent Control or Rent Stabilization regulations.

     

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    Fact Sheet #14: Rent Reductions for Decreased Services

    This Fact Sheet contains information on tenant rights when the owner is not maintaining services or does not comply with a DHCR order. It also contains the procedures that owners must follow if he or she cannot get access to a tenant’s apartment to make repairs, how a rent reduction order affects rent stabilized and rent controlled tenants, and more.

     

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    Fact Sheet #15: Heat and Hot Water

    This Fact Sheet contains information on when heat and hot water must be provided for rent regulated buildings inside and outside New York City, and tenant rights when an owner fails to provide heat and or hot water.

     

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Forms

Operational Bulletins

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    Operational Bulletin #2014-1: Conversion from Master to Individual Metering

    This Operational Bulletin contains information on the schedule of rent reductions for rent stabilized or rent controlled housing accommodations where, with DHCR approval, there is a conversion from master metering of electricity to individual metering. It also contains information on the types of direct metering, the rent reduction formula, and more.

     

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Policy Statements

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    Policy Statement #96-1: Third Person Certification

    This Policy Statement contains information on the ability for tenants or owners to submit an affidavit of an independent licensed architect or engineer as evidence to support their building-wide service complaint, their answer to that complaint, or rent restoration application. The affidavit shall state that the conditions that are the subject of the complaint, answer or application were investigated by the person signing the affidavit and shall state that the conditions exist (if the affidavit is offered by the tenants) or do not exist (if the affidavit is offered by the owner).

     

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