NYC Rent Increase Laws & How to Negotiate With Your Landlord

By PropertyClub Team
Mar 15th 2021
If you’re renting in New York City and the end of your lease is coming up, you might be getting nervous about the potential for a rent increase. Your landlord can increase rent between lease renewals to offset their own increase in bills, but by how much can they hike it up? To help you understand everything you need to know about the rent increase in NYC, we’ve come up with this comprehensive article for you.

You may be under the assumption that there are laws in place to prevent your landlord from increasing your rent too much, right? But that isn’t always the case. We’ll look into the rules and regulations that landlords must follow so you can better understand how much your landlord can increase the price on you. 

You’ll also learn some tips and tricks that may help you avoid a rent increase as much as possible. So let’s get started.

hash-markHow much can a landlord raise your rent in NYC?

If you’re hoping for a law that prevents landlords from raising your rent, you might be out of luck. There are not currently any laws and regulations that offer blanket coverage over all apartments in NYC to limit how much a landlord can raise your rent. It depends on whether or not the apartments are considered stabilized and non-stabilized.

Rent-stabilization is put in place on specific apartments in NYC to protect against egregious price hikes. Apartments in NYC that are considered to be rent-stabilized are typically found in older buildings. But with how many older apartment buildings and complexes there are in NYC, over half of the city’s apartments are rent-stabilized, and therefore are granted some sort of protection against rent increase. 

Rent-stabilized units in NYC have maximum limits on how much rent can be increased between yearly lease renewals. For example, for renewal leases beginning between October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020, the maximum amount rent could be increased for a 1-year lease was 1.5%; 2-year, 2.5%. But more recently, for renewal leases beginning between October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021, the maximum increase for a 1-year lease is 0%; 2-year, 0% for the first year, and 1% for the second year.

Maximum rent increase in NYC for non-stabilized tenants

For most newer apartment buildings, the apartments are considered to be non-stabilized. This means that the rent is not stabilized, and the landlord is allowed to raise it however high they choose to between leases. You could sign a lease for a year paying one price, and then when you go to sign a new lease to stay for an extra year, the landlord could do whatever they want. They could even double it if they wanted to. 

But luckily, landlords will pretty much never do that because then they’d never be able to keep tenants or find new ones. So although there aren’t any laws to protect against rent increases, it’s commonly seen that landlords in NYC will not raise the rent between leases by more than 5% at the most. This way they can keep tenants happy and not have to go through the time, struggle, and effort of finding a new tenant to fill a vacated unit.

hash-markNYC rent increase laws

As discussed previously, there are not really any laws that prevent rent increases from taking place on non-stabilized units. But as a tenant, you should still be aware of your lease terms and what your landlord is trying to do because they still need to be within the law. 

No matter if your apartment is rent-stabilized or not, the landlord still has to provide a 30-day notice before increasing rent and cannot charge tenants for renovations that were never done to the buildings. 

For rent-stabilized units, the landlord must stay within the law and not increase the rent by more than they are legally allowed to based on percentages from the city of New York that are provided above. These percentages change every year, so tenants need to keep track and make sure their landlords aren’t outside the law on the price increase.

hash-markCan you avoid having your rent increased in NYC?

Unfortunately, there are no surefire ways to avoid having your rent raised in NYC. Landlords have bills to pay, and as their prices are increased, some of that trickles down to the tenants to cover the additional expenses. After all, NYC is a wildly popular place to live in the world, and it can be pretty expensive for both landlords and tenants alike. So it is inevitable that at some point — even if you’re in a stabilized unit — that the rent will go up at some point.

Although it is impossible to avoid forever, there are some things that you can do as a tenant to reduce the odds of your rent being increased in NYC. And if your rent does end up being increased, these things can help reduce by how much it goes up. Let’s take a look:

  • Always pay your rent on time — The fastest way for a landlord to raise your rent is to constantly have to track you down just to get the payment from you. Paying on time makes their life easier, allows them to plan their own monthly finances, and prevents you from paying any fees. Always try to be on time!
  • Sign a longer lease — While some people don’t want to be locked into an apartment lease for more than one year, the reality is the majority of leases get renewed again and again. So if you’re planning on staying for a couple of years anyway, just sign the longer lease upfront. Every additional year of the lease is an extra year without your rent being increased!
  • Be the best tenant you can be — Being the best tenant you can be is actually pretty simple, and many tenants end up being great tenants without even trying! This starts with being a good neighbor to everyone else in the units around you. Don’t make noise late at night or early in the morning. Clean up after your pets. Don’t let your unit become unsightly from the outside. If your neighbors have issues with your actions, chances are high that it will reverberate up to your landlord. If you’re also able to do basic repairs around the unit, that will help your landlord a lot. If you’re constantly calling them about the smallest of issues (changing a light bulb, swapping air filters, etc.), they may have less incentive to keep your rent low and convince you to stay.
  • Be friendly and courteous to your landlord — After all, your landlord will be the one that is raising your rent at the end of your lease. In some big apartment complexes, this isn’t possible, but in smaller ones, the owner may even live on-site themselves. Be friendly, say hi, and always be courteous even if there’s a problem. If you have a good relationship with your landlord, they likely will try to gouge you on the increased price.

hash-markWhat happens when you don’t agree to a rent increase?

When it comes to rent increases, the bottom line is that landlords are legally within their rights to raise your rent price when renewing your lease. If you plan on renewing your lease and are notified by your landlord that the rent has been increased, you don’t have many options. The two main choices you’ll have at that point are to accept the increased rate or start searching for a new apartment. 

Since they’re allowed to raise the rent, you cannot just refuse the increased price and expect to remain in the same apartment. But what you can do is try to negotiate the price increase. Landlords don’t have to raise the rent year after year after all. And if you’re consistently a good tenant or have developed some sort of personal relationship with your landlord, you may be able to negotiate the rent increase to a lower price hike.

If you’re unable to negotiate the rent increase to something that you’re willing to pay, then you will need to start looking for a new place to live. You will have no legal backing if you attempt to refuse to pay rent as long as your landlord follows all of the aforementioned NYC rent increase laws. Most of the time the rent increase is kept relatively low so that tenants and landlords can agree on the new pricing. But if not, it’s just a case of finding a new apartment.