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What is J-51 and how will it affect my rent?

Renters should be aware of how the J-51 tax exemption and abatement can affect their rent. J-51 is a property tax benefit for landlords who renovate apartment buildings. If you noticed that your landlord made updates to your building or installed a new boiler, then they may be seeking J-51 tax breaks. Additionally, landlords who convert nonresidential buildings into multi-apartment dwellings can also qualify for J-51.

Landlords cannot raise rent when receiving those tax breaks. Buildings receiving J-51 benefits are subject to rent stabilization, which comes with its own set of rules that protect tenants. Landlords receiving J-51 benefits should offer one or two year lease renewal options at a stabilized price.

Some landlords may inflate their renovation costs of vacant apartments in the building. They do this in order to pump up monthly rent costs and therefore deregulate the building. If you moved into an apartment that was recently renovated, then you should look into the history of the unit to determine if you are overcharged. Tenants who have been overcharged should speak with an attorney.

Will rent prices stay the same once benefits expire?

Some landlords can bump rent prices once J-51 benefits expire. Tenants can find out if their stabilized rent may expire by determining whether rent stabilization applied to the building before their landlord received benefits. If a building’s rent was stabilized before receiving benefits, then it should remain stabilized.

If a building’s rent became stabilized because of J-51, then a landlord can provide notice in the lease renewal stating that the building will be deregulated. The notice should include when the rent will be raised. However, if the landlord fails to provide notice, then the renter has the right to keep stabilized rent upon lease renewal.

Landlords must follow a specific process to legally raise rent. If a renter is subjected to raised rent without proper notice, then they should speak with an attorney. Furthermore, some landlords attempt to raise rent when the building should remain stabilized.

The NYC Rent Guidelines Board provides specific instructions for determining if a building contains rent stabilized units. The rules can become complex. A New York City tenants’ rights attorney can help you determine if your unit should be rent stabilized and if you qualify to file for an overcharge claim.

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