Most rent increases rarely exceed 5% of your current rent amount in New York City, but the exact amount your landlord can raise your rent depends on what type of apartment you live in. If you live in a free-market building, there's no limit on how much a landlord can raise the rent as long as they give you proper notice. However, if you have a rent-stabilized apartment or rent-controlled apartment (i.e., a rent-regulated apartment), you have protections under New York State law regarding how much a landlord may increase your rent. Keep in mind that over 50% of the apartments in New York City are classified as rent-stabilized apartments or rent-regulated apartments.
If you reside in a rent-stabilized apartment, by law your landlord cannot increase your rent beyond a certain percentage anyways. Specifically, each year the NYC Rent Guideline Board sets a cap on how much a landlord may increase your rent annually. In June of 2022, the board set a 3.25% increase for one-year lease agreements and a 5% increase for a two-year lease agreement. This will apply to all leases signed between October 2022 to September 2023. This means that if your current rent were $1,000.00 according to the guidelines, your lease renewal could not exceed $1,032.50 for a one-year lease renewal or $1,050.00 for a two-year lease renewal.
However, on the other hand, if you live in a free-market apartment or non-rent-regulated apartment, your landlord may increase your rent up to the amount it feels represents the fair market value of your apartment. Admittedly, this can be quite expensive given the fact that the New York City rental market has a reputation for being fairly expensive. However, since there is a lot of work involved in marketing an apartment for new tenants, most landlords will not raise your rent so high that the rent becomes unaffordable and forces you to move. Additionally, since most New York City apartment buildings are comprised of both rent-regulated and free-market apartments for the sake of simplicity and regularity, they will apply the Rent Guideline Board percentages to their free-market apartments.
For the most part, you are allowed to negotiate any rent increases that your landlord offers you with your lease renewal. However, keep in mind that when you attempt to negotiate, this is called a "counteroffer," which your landlord may legally reject if they are dead set on increasing your rent. Still, if you have been a good tenant, who pays the rent timely and has been a pleasant neighbor, your landlord may consider lowering the renewal rent increase amount. The reality is being a good tenant has its benefits as landlords are more inclined to negotiate an offer of lower rents to good tenants.
Legally when your lease agreement ends, whether that be a month-to-month, one-year lease, or a two-year lease, the landlord can legally increase your rent. If you live in a free-market apartment or otherwise a non-regulated apartment, any increase offered to you at the time of a lease renewal is, for the most part, valid. However, you should review your original lease agreement to determine if there are any provisions in your lease that prevent the landlord from increasing your rent.
You must receive notice of any rent increase at least 60 days before your lease renewal is offered. Under the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA), specifically, RPL-226-C requires that the tenant receive notice of a rent increase of more than 5% when they receive their lease renewal. Specifically, if the tenant has resided in the apartment for less than a one-year term, the landlord must send the tenant 30 days notice of any rent increase above 5%. Specifically, If a tenant resides in the apartment for less than one year or has a lease agreement for less than one year (this includes month-to-month tenants, the landlord is required to give the tenant 30 days' notice if any rent increase higher than 5%. For tenants who have resided in the apartment for more than one year but less than two years or have a lease agreement for at least one year, the landlord is required to send the tenant a 60-day notice. Lastly, for tenants who have resided in the apartment for more than two years or have a lease agreement for at least two years, the tenant is required to receive a 90-day notice of any rental increase that exceeds 5%.
As previously discussed, if you are in a rent-regulated apartment, your rental increases are controlled by the Rent Guidelines Board of New York City. If you receive your lease renewal and the increase the amount is higher than the established guideline for your that year, you should immediately contact the NYC Rent Guidelines Board for more direction on what to do. Keep in mind that if your landlord is trying to illegally increase your rent, there may be a good chance that you are occupying an illegal apartment altogether.
Furthermore, pursuant to the HSTPA of 2019, landlords are significantly limited on the amount that they can increase rent-stabilized apartments rent for major capital improvements. Specifically, increases are capped at 2% for a 30 year. Amortize at a 12 year for buildings with 35 units or less or 12 1/2 years for buildings with more than 35 apartment buildings.
If you reside in a free market apartment, there are a few things you can do to avoid unexpected rent increases from your landlord.
1. Pay Your Rent On Time
There is nothing that any landlord hates more than a tenant who does not pay their rent on time. A tenant who is constantly late with their rent can expect the landlord to increase their rent when it comes time for at least renewal, assuming that they agree to offer a lease renewal at all. Overall, it is a headache for a tenant who is inconsistent with paying their rent, and landlords do everything they can to avoid renting to these types of tenants. To avoid this scenario, pay your rent timely and make sure that none of your payments are returned for insufficient funds.
2. Sign a Longer Lease Renewal
A surefire way to avoid unexpected rent increases is to sign a lease for a longer period of time. Specifically, if your landlord offers you a two or three-year lease renewal, you should probably accept it, especially if you are concerned about your budget in the future.
3. Follow the Rules
Another way to avoid unexpected rent increases is to be a good tenant. Specifically, don't be a nuisance to your neighbors and follow all requests from your landlord or Superintendent. Also, follow all lease provisions regarding the upkeep of your apartment. Specifically, do not paint your walls a different color without your landlord's permission. Also, ensure that your floors are covered with 80% carpet/rugs to avoid being a nuisance to your neighbors below.
Many New York apartments are unregulated, and rent increase limits don't apply to them, but landlords still need to follow specific procedures to increase your rent. And if you happen to live in a rent-stabilized apartment, NYC rent increase laws will limit how much a landlord can increase your rent. If you are unsure if your apartment is rent-regulated, you can contact the New York Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) for more clarification.