Less discrepancy in renewal increases between boroughs
New York Lease Renewals in July 2022, rent increases on lease renewals for market-rate apartments in NYC averaged 11.2%. Despite renewal increases cooling slightly since earlier this year, rent increases are still double what they were during the same period in 2021. In July, 2% of renewals were over 51% which is the same as last month – a good indication that the occurrences of these steep renewals are on the decline. 60% of July renewals experienced an increase of less than 10%. Notably, there was less discrepancy in rent increases between boroughs. The average increase in renewals in Manhattan was 10%, Brooklyn at 11%, and Queens at 12%.
In June 2022, rent increases on New York lease renewals for market-rate apartments in NYC averaged 13.8%. While Manhattan median rents saw a year-over-year increase of 25.2%, rent renewals lagged at 16.2%. Despite renewal increases cooling slightly since earlier this year, rent increases are nearly triple what they were during the same period in 2021. In June, 2% of renewals were over 50% compared to 8% last month. While 65% of June renewals experienced an increase of less than 10%.
On June 21, the NYC Rent Guidelines Board voted on the allowable rent increases for rent-stabilized apartments. The Rent Guidelines Board is responsible for setting the allowable increases on stabilized apartments every year. Leases commencing after October 1, 2023 will experience a 3% increase on 1 year renewals. The vote on 2-year renewals was two-fold; a 2.75% increase on the first year, and 3.2% increase on the second year.
This is similar to last year’s vote: for 1 year renewals, 3% and for 2 year renewals 5%.
So what does this mean for rent-stabilized renters? It depends on a few things.
Stabilized renters who have a lease renewal coming up before October 1:
For renters with leases expiring before Oct 1, 2023, the Rent Guidelines Vote doesn’t apply to them yet. They will renew their lease based on the increases of last year’s vote. Whether to renew for 1 or 2 years is the question. If a renter is planning to stay in your apartment long-term, it may be wise to consider the 2 year renewal at 5% since the Guidelines Board just priced one year renewals at 3%. So if you renew for 1 year at last year’s vote for 3.25% and then again for 1 year at this year’s vote of 3%, that’s a higher increase than just signing for two-years at 5%.
Stabilized renters who have a lease renewal coming up after October 1:
These renters will have an increase determined by the new vote. These renters too must decide whether to renew for 1 or 2 years. We asked renters to share why they’re considering a 2 year lease renewal. One stated “I prefer the certainty of locking in the rate for 2 years. I don’t want to worry about increased rent next year”. While another renter is opting for the 1 year renewal because “we likely won’t be here longer than that”. Of course there are some renters that may be betting that the Board vote will be much lower next year and opt to extend just 1 year and wait for next year’s result.
For renters who are unsure whether they have a stabilized apartment, they should submit a request for their rental history to DHCR. Find more information here.
Renters who have a stabilized lease should make sure their renewals are in accordance with the Rent Guidelines Board vote. Openigloo put together this calculator to help stabilized tenants determine what their new rent should be – based on the guidelines vote, the lease expiry and the length of the renewal. Learn more here.
Signing a lease is stressful. Maybe you’re anxious to get settled in, or you want to close it before someone else puts in a stronger application. Regardless of your situation, rushing the lease signing process could be a costly mistake. We all know not to judge a book by its cover. It’s crucial to get the inside scoop on your building and landlord before signing the dotted line.
At openigloo, we’ve received thousands of reviews from New Yorkers who are sharing their experiences about renting in their buildings. Some expressed regret about getting reeled in by an apartment’s new renovation only to learn the landlord was a tad overbearing: “If you move into this apartment be aware of how utterly inappropriate and unprofessional the landlord is. And you may think to yourself that you really love this apartment and that it will be fine and that you’ll just avoid them at all costs. But you can’t.”
Another renter was disappointed to learn that their building was the constant target of package theft only after they moved in: “Don’t be fooled by the security cameras, as they do not work. Sadly, me and my partner only learned of this after we had some packages stolen. When we reached out to management, they indicated that the cameras had not worked in some time. I guess the criminals are aware of this.”
Here are 3 things you should check before signing your next lease.
1. Talk to Other Tenants or Read Building Reviews
No one knows what it’s like to live in a building better than other tenants. If you’re seeing an apartment in person, try and talk to some of the neighbors – or even better, the person who currently occupies the unit you like. They can share invaluable insight about the rent, the unit, how the building is managed, and why they’re leaving. If you don’t come across any neighbors, you can also read reviews online about the building and landlord. On openigloo, tenants are sharing detailed reviews and answering questions like how the building ranks in categories like cleanliness, heat, water pressure, and more. Renters are also sharing detailed comments about the pros and cons of their rental experiences. If you can’t find any reviews for the building you’re interested in, check other buildings in the landlord’s portfolio. This will give you a sense of how they manage their other buildings.
To make this research process a little easier, openigloo has compiled all this data into one place. Just type any address into the openigloo app, and you can get a snapshot of all the city data that’s available on that property and landlord. One renter shared that accessing this data helped them avoid a nightmare building: “I was about to sign a lease and then found out the apartments had lead paint violations that the landlord didn’t disclose”.
Never sign your lease without reading it all. Even though leases can be long, it’s vital to ensure they stay within housing laws. A renter wrote us recently to share some of the clauses their landlord included in the lease to see if it was typical. The landlord wanted the tenant to pay for professional cleaning of the apartment 2 times per month. Additionally, the lease stipulated that the landlord could conduct inspections every 4 months and have access to the apartment 3 months before the lease termination to begin showing the unit to other tenants. While there is nothing illegal about these clauses, it’s far from typical. It could result in a contentious relationship with your landlord if you were to sign without being fully aware of their expectations. If there is something in your lease that you’re unsure about, you can ask the landlord, or the broker, or leverage various tenant hotlines in NYC, such as the Met Council on Housing.
Renting in NYC is not easy and signing a lease is stressful. Renting are big financial commitment, so you should have as much information as possible before signing. Be sure to check other tenant references, access available city data, and ensure your lease is fair and reasonable.
Have a rental experience to share? Submit an anonymous review about your building on openigloo, and help a future renter find (or avoid) their next apartment!
Compared to other states, New York has some of the most robust sets of housing laws to protect renters. Everything from security deposit regulation to lease breaks. The catch? More often than not, renters may not have the time to know the ins and outs of every rental housing law in NYC and what applies to them. At openigloo, we’ve collected thousands of reviews from NYC renters who are sharing the good, bad, and ugly of renting in our beloved city. In many cases, we’ve read reviews where a renter complains about a landlord’s practice that is completely illegal, such as entering an apartment without notice or overcharging for late fees.
Here are 9 rental housing laws that every NYC renter should know.
1. Landlords have 14 days to return your security deposit
Renters with market-rate apartments should receive their deposits back within 14 days. Landlords have to explain and itemize damages within that 14-day window. If they don’t, they have forfeited the deposit back to you. Navigating security deposits in NYC is tough, but it’s important to know the laws in place to protect tenants from landlords unjustly keeping deposits. Check out ourpost about security deposits here.
2. You must be given 30-90 days notice if your landlord is going to raise your rent more than 5% or not renew your lease.
This law applies to market-rate (i.e., non-stabilized) apartments. If a tenant has a lease of less than one year, a 30-day notice is mandatory. A 60-day notice is required for renters who have lived in an apartment for more than one year, but less than two years. Tenants who have lived in a unit for more than two years must get 90 days notice. For rent-stabilized tenants, permitted rent increases are set by the Rent Guidelines Board every year. Landlords HAVE TO renew the leases of rent-stabilized tenants. Not sure if you have a stabilized apartment? Check out our post about rent stabilization here.
3. No, landlords cannot enter your apartment whenever they want.
Some openigloo users have written about landlords entering an apartment whenever they want, claiming, “It’s my property, so I can do what I please”. Actually, no. Landlords are not permitted to enter your apartment without appropriate notice except in cases of emergency (i.e., flood, fire, medical emergency). In all other cases, the landlord needs to provide notice to show your apartment to prospective renters or do scheduled repairs.
4. Landlords have to make a reasonable effort to re-rent your apartment if you break your lease.
Sometimes life happens, and a renter needs to break a lease. In 2019, there were landmark rent reforms that shifted some responsibility to landlords when it comes to re-renting an apartment after a tenant breaks the lease. Landlords now have what’s called “a duty to mitigate”. This means they need to make a reasonable effort to re-rent the apartment rather than simply taking you to court for unpaid rent. Check out our post about breaking a lease in NYC for more info.
5. Buildings with over 9 units, need to have a janitor available 24 hours a day.
You read that right! According to NYC’s housing maintenance code, owners of buildings with 9 or more apartments are required to provide janitorial services, either themselves or by hiring a janitor. These services need to be available 24 hours a day. According to the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law, buildings with 13 or more units in a multiple dwelling building where the owner doesn’t reside, must have a janitor that resides in the building or within 200 feet of the building.
6. Landlords are required to provide heat and hot water is one of the housing laws in NYC.
Your hot water has to be working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There is also a heating season (October 1 through May 31) where between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., heat must register at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit when the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees. Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., heat must register at least 62 degrees Fahrenheit. The city receives tens of thousands of heat complaints every year. You can check your building’s history with heating violations on openigloo.
A tenant can be evicted in New York for several reasons. The most common include failing to pay rent or violating the lease. In order to legally evict a tenant, a landlord must get a judgment from the court allowing the eviction to occur. Before the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit, the landlord MUST give the tenant 14 days notice. COVID-19 has resulted in more eviction protection for renters who are behind on their rent. Regardless of a renter’s situation, it’s important to know that only a city marshal can evict a tenant, not a landlord.
8. Landlords cannot discriminate against you as an applicant or tenant because of your race, religion, sexual orientation, and more.
While the federal Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination, the New York City Human Rights Law goes further to protect even more groups. Specifically, NYC prohibits housing discrimination based on actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, uniformed service, marital status, partnership status, alienage, or citizenship status of any person or group of persons. If you believe you have been the victim of discrimination, you can file a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights.
9. Landlords cannot charge more than $50 for late rent payments.
Late fees can only be charged if rent is received more than five days after the due date established in the lease, and cannot exceed $50 or five percent of the rent, whichever is less. Some leases will include outrageous (and illegal) late fee policies – like $100 per day. Double-check your lease and make sure any clauses included about late fees are in accordance with the law!
Renting in NYC is hard. There are so many housing laws in NYC, and they are constantly changing. Unfortunately, it’s up to renters to know their rights and make sure these laws are respected. If you have a landlord that has broken any of these laws, you can let them know and give them a chance to remediate. You can file a complaint with 311, or in extreme circumstances, take your landlord to court for damages. Whether you’re a seasoned NYC renter or have just arrived, we hope this list of 9 housing laws can help you navigate your next lease!
Have an experience to share? Submit an anonymous review about your building on openigloo, and help a future renter find (or avoid) their next apartment!
Breaking a lease in NYC can be a challenge. Some landlords have simple lease-break fees, while others will make it impossible. The pandemic left thousands of New Yorkers reconsidering their living arrangements, meaning lease breaks were on a lot of renters’ minds. Whatever the reason for thinking about breaking a lease, many renters were left with sometimes contentious negotiations with their landlords.
During the past year, we’ve received thousands of reviews from NYC tenants. Many have shared their own personal experiences with lease breaks. One renter shared, “I was able to break my lease but only after weeks of fighting with the building and laying out what my rights are as a tenant. It was an excruciating process.” Another renter wrote, “I lost my job due to COVID and had to break my lease. The landlord was flexible and responsive to working with me – we agreed on a lease break fee equal to one-half of the monthly rent.”
So what are the renter’s rights when it comes to breaking leases? These are 3 things you should know before trying to break a lease in NYC:
1. New rent laws require landlords to make a reasonable effort to re-rent an apartment.
In 2019, there were landmark rent reforms that shifted some responsibility to landlords when it comes to re-renting an apartment after a tenant breaks the lease. Landlords now have what’s called “a duty to mitigate”. This means they need to make a reasonable effort to re-rent the apartment rather than simply taking you to court for unpaid rent.
2. If you’re breaking a lease voluntarily, notify your landlord in writing and try to find a replacement or sublet.
Communication is key. If you need to break a lease, notify your landlord as soon as possible. Try to find your own replacement or sublet for the apartment. This can make the negotiations a lot smoother! If that doesn’t work, you can try offering to pay the penalty (sometimes the security deposit, or 1-month’s rent). Some leases have a lease-break clause – double-check to see if your lease already has one. If you need a different space or cheaper rent, offer to transfer your lease to another apartment in your landlord’s portfolio. This may make the landlord more open to working with you.
3. If you have to break a lease in NYC because of issues with the apartment, make sure everything is well documented.
Sometimes an apartment just isn’t safe to live in anymore. In these cases where a landlord has neglected their property and ignored maintenance requests for hazardous issues, you likely have a strong case to break your lease. This is called a constructive eviction. But be prepared to back up your claims before moving out. The violations alone may be enough for the landlord to let you out of your lease, but a disagreement could wind up in Housing Court. So it’s best to start documenting the conditions before moving out. For future leases, always be sure to document the condition of the apartment before you move in as well!
Why is getting security deposits back such a pain in NYC? openigloo has received thousands of reviews from renters complaining that they had to fight tooth and nail to get their security deposit back. It shouldn’t take months and hundreds of emails to get the money back that belongs to you.
While 70% of openigloo users have reported getting their security deposits back, some neighborhoods and landlords are known for making the process more difficult. For example, 94% of renters in the Financial District reported getting their security deposits back. In comparison, only 50% of renters in Long Island City received theirs.
In many cases, landlords rely on tenants not knowing their rights and eventually giving up the fight. One openigloo user shared in a review that their landlord is “currently withholding $1000 of the security deposit and ignoring all attempts to get an explanation.” It’s important to know that landlords are REQUIRED to give you an explanation as to why they are keeping your deposit.
There are many tips and tricks on how to improve your chances of getting your deposit back. You can document the move-in and move-out conditions, make any necessary repairs and be sure not to leave anything behind. But many tenants have done everything right and even left an apartment in better shape than when they found it.
So what else can be done? It may require threatening legal action. One openigloo user shared, “My landlord tried to steal my security deposit by trying to come up with excuse after excuse. So she just stopped taking my phone calls or responding to emails for three months after I moved out (she even claimed she didn’t have a computer). However, as soon as I got a lawyer, she sent that check REAL QUICK (with no deductions).”
While having a lawyer is no guarantee of getting your deposit back, knowing the laws and regulations around security deposits is a good place to start. Here are a few things every New York City renter should know about security deposits.
1. Your landlord has 14 days to return your security deposits in NYC
For non-regulated apartments, your landlord has to return your deposit within 14 days of your move-out. New laws require landlords to provide an itemized list of the damages and the related repair costs. Remember, they have 14 days to do this. If not, they forfeit their right to the deposit.
As a safeguard, you could request a walk-through before you move out. During this walk-through, the landlord has to provide an itemized list of damage and give you a chance to address it. This strategy could be a way to avoid the landlord overcharging you for simple repairs.
3. Security deposits in NYC need to be in an interest-bearing New York State Bank account
Usually, in buildings with more than six units, landlords are supposed to keep your deposit in an interest-bearing account with a New York State bank. They are required to tell you the name and address of the bank and the account number.
While your deposit is supposed to collect interest, landlords can also charge a 1% administration fee. Because interest rates are so low, that fee can erase any interest you may be entitled to.
4. Your landlord cannot ask you to pay more than a month’s rent as a deposit
New rent reforms now forbid landlords from collecting more than one month’s rent as a security deposit. Perhaps a landlord will ask for this if you are an international student or a new immigrant without US credit. Still, this practice is illegal for both market-rate and rent-regulated apartments.
5. You may have to pay more towards your security deposits in NYC if your rent goes up
Suppose you are renewing your lease, and your rent goes up. In that case, the landlord can collect additional money to bring the security deposit up to 1 month’s rent.
Side note: if you have a rent-stabilized apartment, make sure your landlord increases your rent by the legal amount. If you’re unsure whether you have a rent-stabilized apartment, request your rental history through the Homes and Community Renewal website.
6. Tenants are not supposed to pay for normal wear and tear
Tenants are not supposed to be held responsible for the general wear and tear of an apartment. The issue is that every landlord has a different interpretation of wear and tear. It’s good practice to have transparency with your landlord before moving in of what they consider normal wear and tear. Get it in writing. But generally, courts interpret wear and tear as the deterioration from normal use of a property without fault, without negligence, and without carelessness.
So don’t let your landlord charge you for things like small holes in wall hangings or floor scuffs.
7. You can take your landlord to small claims court or file a complaint with the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau of the New York State Attorney General
If you’ve been going back and forth with your landlord for months, or worse, they’ve just stopped answering your emails, you may have to take things to court. You can fight your landlord in Small Claims Court for up to $10,000 – but make sure you have clear documentation of the apartment’s condition to prove your case.
Navigating security deposits is no easy task. But knowing and fighting for your rights is a good start. If you’ve been burned before by a landlord who has unjustly kept your deposit, be sure to share your experience on the openigloo app – it’s anonymous. Collecting and sharing information about landlords who illegally keep deposits is essential so that future renters can avoid those buildings. Similarly, if you’ve had a landlord that made your move-out experience really seamless, give them a shoutout. Help the next renter find (or avoid) their next home!