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.
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.
Owners who restore required or essential services may file a rent restoration application online through the Owner Rent Regulation Applications (ORRA) system.
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, she or they 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.
4) Can a tenant replace equipment in the apartment without consulting the owner?
No. Owners are required to maintain all required services and equipment in good working order. Since the owner is responsible for maintaining services or equipment, the tenant cannot replace the equipment without permission from the owner. The tenant must receive permission from the owner by entering into a mutual, consensual agreement in writing.
5) Can owners require their tenants to pay their rent with a debit or credit card through an electronic payment system?
No. Owners cannot require tenants to pay their rent with a debit or credit card through an electronic payment system. Owners may offer the service on a voluntary basis as an accommodation to the tenants. Tenants are allowed to discontinue their participation in the payment system at any time.
6) What are my rights concerning garage/parking spaces?
Garage/parking spaces are considered an ancillary service which are provided by owners to tenants as a service sometimes included in the apartment rent, with no separate lease or charge. If the owner requires the tenant to continue to use the service, the owner cannot unreasonably refuse to allow the tenant to sublet it for the term of each lease renewal.
The garage/parking space can also be offered under a lease that is separate and apart from the apartment. If it is offered by the owner and if there is or was a history of common ownership, directly or indirectly between the building owner and the contractor, or if the service is exclusively for the tenants, then it is subject to rent stabilization. In this situation, an initial free market rent can be set for a tenant signing their first separate lease for the service. However, renewal leases for the garage/parking space are subject to guideline rate limitations and the tenant is not required to renew the lease. If it is offered by a contractor and there was never common ownership between the contractor and the building owner, then the service is not subject to rent stabilization.
In all rent stabilized situations, the tenants keeping the space unoccupied indefinitely is not grounds for the discontinuance of the service.
7) I am a rent stabilized tenant in a building that was converted into a co-op/condo. Are owners allowed to give preference to co-op/condo owners when providing access to services and facilities?
No. General Business Law Sec. 352-eeee (3), provides in part that the cooperative corporation or the condominium association and their managing agents shall assume responsibility for the provision of all services and facilities required by law on a non-discriminatory basis.
8) 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.
9) The owner wants to renovate the entire building and has asked me to temporarily relocate. Do I have to relocate?
No. Tenants do not have to temporarily relocate to allow an owner to renovate an entire building unless ordered by DHCR, another governmental agency, or a court of competent jurisdiction.
10) 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.
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.
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, she or they 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.
Fact Sheet #35: Collectibility of Major Capital Improvement (MCI) and/or Individual Apartment Improvement (IAI) Rent Increases Where the Rent is Reduced Because of Diminution of Services
This Fact Sheet contains information on how a rent reduction order affects the collectibility of an MCI or IAI rent increase.
This Fact Sheet contains information on conditions that are de minimis in nature, and do not rise to the level of a failure to maintain a required service. De minimis services only have a minimal impact on tenants.
Tenants must use this form to request compliance proceedings be initiated if the owner failed to comply with an order within 30 days after the issue date of an order.
Form #RA-81: Application for a Rent Reduction Based Upon a Decrease of Service(s) – Individual Apartment
Tenants must use this form to file a complaint about a decrease in services in their own apartment. Tenants may also file a service complaint online for their own apartment through Rent Connect.
Tenants must use this form to file a complaint about a decrease in building-wide services.
Tenants must use this form to join in a building-wide service complaint made by another tenant in their building.
Form #RA-84.2: Supplement to Application for a Rent Reduction Based Upon Decreased Building-Wide Service(s) – Laundry, Doorman, Security, Storage, or Playgrounds
Tenants must use this form if their service complaint includes a decrease in laundry, doorman, security, storage, or playground services. This form must be completed and attached to form RA-84.
Tenants must use this form to file a service complaint about a lack of heat and or hot water in their own apartment. Tenants may also file a service complaint about a lack of heat and or hot water in their own apartment online through Rent Connect. For a building-wide lack of heat and or hot water, file form RA-84.
Operational Bulletin #90-1: Requiring Owners to Submit Sufficient Copies of Designated Applications to the DHCR
While the copy and mailing label requirements described in this Operational Bulletin no longer apply to MCI applications, these provisions still apply to Petitions for Administrative Review (PAR) that affect multiple tenants, Building-Wide Increase, Decrease, or Substitution of Service applications, and Building-Wide Restoration of Rent applications.
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.
This Operational Bulletin contains an update to 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 rent reduction formula, submeter requirements, and more.
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).