If you are a senior citizen or have a disability, you may qualify for the NYC rent freeze program. Your apartment must be rent-controlled, rent-stabilized, hotel-stabilized, or Mitchell-Lama rent-regulated. You do not need your landlord’s permission to apply for the program, and your landlord may not prevent you from participating.
Public housing units are not qualified for this program, nor are Section 8 or Section 202 apartments. The apartment cannot be a sublet, even if it is rent-regulated: your name must be on the lease.
This program allows a property tax credit to cover the difference between your frozen rent and your landlord’s actual rent amount to other tenants. Once you qualify, you may stay in the apartment indefinitely at the same rate.
The rent freeze program is means-tested. The Department of Finance examines your overall income and whether your rent is more than one-third of your income. The total combined income for all household members must be $50,000 or less in the prior calendar year.
For disability eligibility, you must receive SSI, SSDI, disability-related Medicaid, a Veterans Affairs Disability Pension, Veterans Affairs Compensation, a USPS Disability Pension, or USPS Disability compensation to qualify. You may not receive any other housing benefit, such as Section 8.
For senior citizen eligibility, you must be 62 years old or older, be the Head of Household as the primary tenant named on the lease or rent order, or have been granted succession rights in an eligible apartment.
They will freeze your rent at either your prior rent amount or at ⅓ of your monthly income, whichever is greater. Freezing your rent could mean your rent rises slightly in the short term, but you’ll be protected for decades as the rent rises all around you.
You must apply to the program. You must renew your benefit. The Department of Finance sends an application approximately 60 days before your benefit ends. If you do not renew, your rent freeze benefits end. Your landlord must continue your benefit for six months after it expires, even if you still need to renew. As a tenant’s rights lawyer in New York, I recommend renewing your benefit as soon as you get the application.
Remember, if you have been paying your regular rent for months while waiting for your application to be approved, and then your rent lowers, you can ask your landlord to credit you for the rent payments you’ve made. The landlord may issue a credit against future rent or write you a check for the amount you’ve overpaid.
The rental market is tough here in New York City, but there are programs out there that can help.
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