Michelle Itkowitz

Tenant Learning Platform

Hi, I’m Michelle Itkowitz, an instructor on the Tenant Learning Platform and Bushwick Dailys Tenant’s Rights Advisor. This is the fourth article in a series about your rights as a New York City Tenant. In this column, I am going to answer one of our reader’s specific questions. 

Question: How much is my landlord allowed to raise my rent? And over what time period?

First of all, are you Rent Stabilized? Or is your apartment free-market? Your answer to my question will make all the difference!

How do I know if I am Rent Stabilized or free-market?

There is no official list somewhere that definitively tells the world which apartments are subject to Rent Stabilization. The NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) has jurisdiction over matters relating to Rent Stabilization and the DHCR maintains some records. But the records the DHCR maintains contain information that is largely self-reported by landlords and that is not controlling with regard to an apartment’s Rent Stabilization status. The problem is that many landlords lie and say an apartment is free-market, when it is actually Rent Stabilized.

In general, if a Building was built before 1974 and contains six or more units, then the apartments therein are Rent Stabilized unless certain exceptions apply. Therefore, if your landlord hits you with a huge rent increase, and even suspect that you are Rent Stabilized, you should first check with a lawyer who is qualified to evaluate your regulatory status. If you are Rent Stabilized, not only will that proposed rent increase not be valid, but the landlord probably owes you money on a rent overcharge case.


If you are a Rent Stabilized tenant, you have mountains of rights. Rent Stabilization applies to about one million tenancies in New York City. Rent Stabilization limits the rent an owner may charge for an apartment and restricts the right of an owner to evict tenants. Rent Stabilized tenants are entitled to leases and lease renewals. 

Rent increases for Rent Stabilized tenants are controlled by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board, which sets maximum rates for rent increases once a year, which are effective for leases beginning on or after October 1st. Long story short, a Rent Stabilized tenant’s rent goes up much more gradually that a free-market tenant’s rent.

Free-Market Tenants

But let’s say you are certain that you are not Rent Stabilized; you are a free-market tenant. Then your landlord can ask to raise your rent as much as they want to. You do not have to agree to the rent increase, but if you do not agree to the increase and do not leave on your own, the landlord can eventually bring a holdover case (an eviction case) against you.

As of June 14, 2019 of this year, the NYS legislature passed the Statewide Tenant Protection Act. Real Property Law § 266(c) now requires landlord to give tenant notices to increase a free-market tenant’s rent by 5 percent or more or to refuse to renew a free-market tenancy. 

If the landlord fails to provide the written notice in the alloted time frames to the tenant regarding a rent increase or a non-renewal, then the tenancy continues under its existing terms (even if the lease has expired) until the required notice has been given and the notice period has expired.

This law is very new and is a big change. Therefore, many landlords may not even know about this. Send your landlord a copy of this article if they try to raise your rent more than 5 percent, refuse to renew your lease, or bring an end-of-lease holdover eviction proceeding against before giving you the required notice.


The Tenant Learning Platform delivers on-demand, online classes for NYC tenants on specific legal topics, to help tenants prevent and solve problems concerning their apartments.

Its first three classes are: How to Do Airbnb Legally in Your New York City ApartmentThe Laws About Painting Your NYC Apartment, and How To Protect Your Rent Stabilized Apartment from a Non-Primary Residence Claim.

For a limited time, all Bushwick Daily readers will get free access to the Painting Your Apartment Class with the purchase of the Airbnb course. 

Upcoming classes will teach you How to Get an Emotional Support Animal in a No Pets Building and Best Strategies for Breaking Your Lease Early.

Cover photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash.

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