Rent Regulation Terms

Rent Regulation Terms

These terms will help tenants to quickly identify and understand some of the topics that are typically addressed by the Office of Rent Administration.

Rent Regulation Terms
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Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974 (ETPA)
This is the law that provides for rent stabilization in Nassau, Rockland and Westchester counties. For a building to be covered by ETPA, it must be located in a municipality that adopted the Emergency Tenant Protection Act. See Fact Sheet #8.

Fair Market Rent
The fair market rent is the rent charged the first stabilized tenant after the vacancy of a rent controlled tenant, subject to challenge in a Fair Market Rent Appeal. See Fact Sheet #6.

Fair Market Rent Appeal
A challenge to the first rent stabilized rent after rent control which must be filed within 90 days after the tenant receives the initial apartment registration. See Fact Sheet #6.

Fuel Cost Adjustment
A separate rent adjustment applied to rent controlled apartments only. This adjustment is based on fuel price changes during the prior year. The rent adjustment may go up or down depending on the price of various types of heating fuel.

Harassment
A course of action intended to force a tenant out of his or her apartment or cause a tenant to give up rights granted to the tenant by the Rent Stabilization or Rent Control Laws. No owner, or owner's representative, may interfere with a tenant's privacy, comfort or quiet enjoyment of the tenant's apartment. See Fact Sheet #17.

Heat and Hot Water
By law owners must provide tenants with heat and hot water. See Fact Sheet #15.

Initial Apartment Registration
Registration that occurs when an apartment first becomes subject to the registration requirements of the rent stabilization law. A copy of the registration form must be served on the tenant.

Luxury Decontrol
Apartments can become deregulated in two different ways if the rent has reached the Deregulation Rent Threshold (DRT). When a tenant moves into a vacant apartment and the legal rent has lawfully reached the DRT, such apartment qualifies for permanent deregulation and is no longer subject to either rent stabilization or rent control.

Upon application by the owner, DHCR may issue an order of deregulation if the subject apartment had a legal rent at the DRT and was occupied by persons whose total annual federal adjusted gross incomes as reported on their New York State Income Tax returns, had been in excess of $200,000 for each of the two preceding calendar years. Recipients of SCRIE or DRIE certificates are exempt from this application process. See list of Deregulation Rent and Income Thresholds.

Major Capital Improvement (MCI)
An MCI is a building wide improvement which is for the operation, preservation and maintenance of the structure, directly or indirectly benefits all tenants, involves a capital expenditure which is deemed depreciable by the Internal Revenue Service and meets the requirements set forth in the Agency’s useful life schedule. To be eligible to collect a rent increase for an MCI, an owner must first apply to DHCR and obtain an order granting the rent increase.

Maximum Base Rent (MBR)
A maximum base rent is established for each rent controlled apartment and is updated every two years to reflect changes in operating costs.

Petition for Administrative Review (PAR)
An administrative appeal, filed by an owner or tenant, against an order issued by the Rent Administrator, which alleges errors in fact or application of the law. See Fact Sheet #18.

Rent Overcharge
A rent overcharge occurs when a tenant pays an amount of rent above the legal rent. Some allowable adjustments to a legal rent occur when a major capital improvement is approved, upon the renewal of a lease, or if an owner adds equipment or services with the tenant's consent. See Fact Sheet #16.

Rent Reduction
If an owner is not providing all required services, a tenant may file a complaint with the Office of Rent Administration (ORA) seeking to have the services restored. If ORA determines that the services have not been restored, ORA will issue a service reduction order which may relate to an individual apartment or may be building-wide. In rent stabilized apartments the rent will be reduced by an amount equal to the most rent guideline increase. In rent controlled apartments, the rent is reduced by a dollar amount based on the nature of the condition or decrease in service. See Fact Sheet #14.

Rent Restoration
This is an application filed by the owner to restore rents that were reduced by a rent reduction order. It is filed after the services have been restored. If granted, the effective date in rent stabilization is based on the date of the owner's application; for rent controlled apartments, the effective date is prospective only from the first day of the month after the issuance of the order.

Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE)
For more information, see Fact Sheet #21.

Service
Both the Rent Control and Rent Stabilization Laws require that the owner continue to provide all services provided on the base date, (generally the date the apartment became subject to regulations), as well as any services which are required by law. See Fact Sheet #3.

Sublet Apartment
Rent stabilized apartments are rented pursuant to a lease between an owner and a tenant. Under certain circumstances, a tenant may enter into a sublease with a new tenant (called the subtenant) for the rental of the apartment. The owner has the right to charge the prime tenant a sublet allowance during the period of sublet if the sublet occurs during a renewal lease term. The prime tenant (tenant who holds the lease with the owner) may pass this allowance onto the subtenant. The prime tenant may also charge the subtenant an additional 10% for the use of furniture. An apartment which is sublet continues to be under the jurisdiction of the rent stabilization law. The subtenant is protected from overcharges by the prime tenant and may file an overcharge complaint against the prime tenant if he or she feels a rent in excess of a legal rent is being collected. Generally the subtenant may not file such a complaint against the owner. See Fact Sheet #7.

Substantial Rehabilitation

A major reconstruction of the building, taking place after January 1, 1974, wherein at least 75% of the building-wide and apartment systems have been completely replaced with new systems. An owner must apply to DHCR and obtain an order granting the application. See Fact Sheet #38: Substantial Rehabilitation and Operational Bulletin 95-2.

Succession
The ability of a tenant to "pass on" their regulated apartment to certain immediate family members. The family member may have the right to succeed to the tenancy provided the family member's primary residence has been with the tenant for two years or since the inception of the relationship. See Fact Sheet #30.

Treble Damages
Treble damages refers to a penalty of three times the dollar amount of an overcharge that is payable to the tenant. This penalty, imposed by an order of the Office of Rent Administration, is assessed against an owner when he or she willfully collects any rent in excess of the legal regulated rent.