Even if you’re new to New York City, you’re probably aware that the city has some of the highest rent prices in the nation. In addition, NYC landlords tend to raise their rent prices as often as possible. But you might not know that some of these rent hikes may be illegal. This year, New York State made several changes to their rental laws, which govern how often and by how much a landlord can increase your rent.
To ensure you aren’t caught flatfooted by any illegal rent increases, this article will take you through everything you need to know about NYC rent laws and how much a landlord can increase your rent in 2022.
NYC Rent Increase Laws for 2022NYC Rent Increase Laws for 2022
Once every year, the NYC Rent Guideline Board puts a cap on how much your landlord can raise your rent annually. In June this year, this rent increase cap was set at 3.25% for one-year lease agreements and 5% for two-year lease agreements. This regulation applies to all lease agreements signed between October 2022 and September 2023. However, the real kicker is that these rent increase caps only apply to rent-stabilized apartments. If you reside in a non-regulated apartment, your landlord can bump your rent by whatever amount they feel is a fair market price.
Understandably, this can be a frightening idea for many NYC tenants. But because of the work that goes into finding and screening new tenants, most landlords will have enough foresight not to raise your rent to such an unacceptable level that you have to move out. Good tenants that always pay their rent on time and don’t cause any drama are worth far more to a landlord in the long run. You may also have extra protection against sharp increases if your apartment building comprises rent-stabilized and market-rate apartments, which most apartment buildings in NYC tend to be. For the sake of simplicity, many landlords will apply the yearly increase caps from the Rent Guideline Board to their market-rate apartments.
That said, it’s not unknown that some landlords try and get away with illegal rent increases.
How Do I Know If My Rent Increases are Legal?How Do I Know If My Rent Increases are Legal?
Whether your apartment is rent-regulated or market-rate, the only time a landlord can legally raise your rent is when your lease agreement is up for renewal. This is true for all leases, whether a one-year, two-year, or monthly lease agreement. As mentioned, rent-regulated tenants are protected against any rent hikes above the yearly cap rate set by the NYC Rent Guideline Board. However, always calculating your rent increase percentage when receiving your lease renewal is still a good idea. If your landlord’s rent increase exceeds the cap rate, you should immediately contact the NYC Rent Guideline Board to report this.
Additional regulations also govern how much a landlord can increase the rent on a rent-regulated apartment after significant capital improvements. Following the HSTPA Act of 2019, rent increases are capped at 2% for 30 years. Amortization is set at 12 years for buildings with 35 units or less and 12.5 years for buildings with more than 35 units.
As for market-rate apartments, there are, unfortunately, no legal protections against unreasonable rent hikes after a lease renewal. The only exception is a rent increase of 5%, or more, which a landlord must give you advance notice of. Check whether there are any clauses about rent increases in your lease agreement. Fortunately, you do have the right to negotiate the rent increase with your landlord. Provided you’ve been a good tenant, they may be willing to lower the rent increase if you can successfully argue that you can’t afford what they demand. Your landlord is under no legal obligation to accept your counteroffer.
Tips for Avoiding an Unexpected Rent HikeTips for Avoiding an Unexpected Rent Hike
Even if you reside in a market-rate apartment, you can still do a few things to minimize your chances of an excessive and unexpected rent hike.
1. Always pay your rent on time1. Always pay your rent on time
The best thing you can do to stay in your landlord’s good books is to always pay your rent on time and in full. Your landlord will appreciate this greatly and be more likely to give you some leeway in negotiating a rent increase. By contrast, a tenant that regularly falls behind on their rent will not be valued by their landlord.
2. Follow building regulations2. Follow building regulations
Most apartment buildings will have house rules and regulations that residents are expected to follow. For instance, pet ownership, restricted areas, and trash collection. Follow these rules to a tee, and you’ll earn your landlord’s thanks.
3. Sign a two-year lease agreement3. Sign a two-year lease agreement
A one-year lease agreement can go by a lot faster than you think. Rather than setting yourself up for a rent hike yearly, lock in a two-year lease that will give you an acceptable rent price for longer. A longer lease also gives you more time to build trust and a good relationship with your landlord.
4. Be a good neighbor4. Be a good neighbor
Almost every New Yorker has a story about an unpleasant neighbor that is rude to everyone they meet in the hallway, makes threats, or plays loud music at 2 AM every night. Don’t be one of those people. Instead, be a good neighbor that respects other people and doesn’t cause needless drama. Your landlord is sure to hear of this, and it will increase your esteem in their eyes.
5. Handle any basic home repairs5. Handle any basic home repairs
Minor everyday repairs like a wobbly table or a stuck door are a fact of home living. Provided you know what you’re doing, taking some initiative to fix these yourself rather than bothering your landlord will always make you a prized tenant they’ll want to hold onto. That said, don’t try out any DIY tasks beyond your capabilities. Just let your landlord know there’s a tiny issue that needs fixing. They’ll appreciate that you’re looking out for any molehills that can be nipped in the bud before they turn into mountains.
6. Get to know your landlord6. Get to know your landlord
If you regularly see your landlord in person, try to foster a respectful and friendly relationship with them. Even something as simple as a courteous nod in the hallway or a holiday card each year can boost your social credit when it comes time for a lease renewal. Make sure it’s sincere; fake friendliness can stand out like a giraffe on the subway.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
Rent hikes are an expected part of life in NYC, even for rent-regulated tenants. While you may not be able to avoid them entirely, you can improve your odds of evading an excessive increase by following the tips above. Experienced landlords understand the value of a good tenant and will be adverse to losing one because of a rent hike.