New York City is commonly known as one of the largest and most populous cities in the United States. Unsurprisingly, the real estate market is massive and competitive, with an average Manhattan apartment costing more than $3,000 a month. Rising rent and displaced New Yorkers have led to an increased effort towards passing legislation that makes leasing and renting fair and accessible for both landlords and tenants in New York State.
Just a few months ago, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA) into law, securing rent regulation for thousands of tenants in New York State. The new law is exhaustive and includes a broad array of topics, covering everything from security deposits to eviction procedures. While this article is designed to describe some of the most relevant and important changes of the HSTPA, it will not discuss every change in the law.
Questions about the HSTPA?
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What does the HSTPA cover?
The following changes impact ALL residential housing, including co-ops and condos. While this list isn’t exhaustive, here are a few key changes:
Security deposits and fees
- Unlike before, when landlords were able to charge any amount they desired, security deposits are now limited to one month’s worth of rent.
- Application fees are banned.
- Background and credit check fees are restricted to the actual cost of the service or $20, whichever amount is less.
Tenants are now given additional notice when rent will be increased by 5% or more or when a landlord plans not to renew a lease. Thirty (30) days’ notice must be given if a tenant has lived in a unit for a year or less. Landlords must give tenants 60 days’ notice if they have lived in the unit for more than a year, but less than two years. If a tenant has lived in a unit for more than 2 years, they are entitled to 90 days’ notice.
Landlords who want to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent, must first demand the rent. The HSTPA requires this demand to be in writing and gives tenants 14 days to pay rent. Originally, tenants were given 3 days.
What changes apply to rent-regulated housing?
Here are a few changes that apply specifically to rent-stabilized housing:
Originally, landlords of rent-stabilized apartments possessed the ability to reclaim an apartment for personal use. HSTPA significantly restricts owner recapture. The new law limits landlords to one apartment for owner use and occupancy. It also requires landlords to demonstrate an immediate and compelling necessity to take back said apartment.
Major capital improvements (MCIs)
Landlords are restricted to a 2% rent-increase cap when the increase results from building improvements. Originally, the rent-increase cap was 6%.
Individual apartment improvements (IAIs)
With HSTPA, the total cost for individual apartment improvements is limited to $15,000. Prior to HSTPA, there was no cap on renovations and landlords were allowed to increase rent to 1/40th of the cost of the renovation in buildings with 35 or fewer apartments and 1/60th in buildings with 36+ apartments.
Gaining a better understanding of HSTPA will only contribute to informed decision-making and ultimately a positive experience when renting residential property. More than ever, it is important to understand the HSTPA because sunset provisions have been repealed, and, as a result, rent regulations have been made permanent.