City Can Freeze SCRIE/DRIE Rent at Preferential Level
The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA) made it possible to freeze rents at preferential rates for qualifying New Yorkers. The de Blasio administration has released guidance regarding renter rights under the HSTPA. This guidance will allow New Yorkers who pay preferential rents in rent-stabilized apartments to benefit from the city’s Rent Freeze Programs.
Prior to the HSTPA, an owner could choose to raise a preferential rent to the legal rent at the end of the lease, even if the lease was being renewed. Eligible New Yorkers under Rent Freeze Programs could freeze their rent at the legal rent, but not the preferential rent. Due to the passage of the HSTPA, rents can be frozen at the preferential rates.
The Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and the Disabled Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) are collectively known as the NYC Rent Freeze Program. Under this program, the city can freeze eligible tenants’ rents at the preferential level as opposed to the legal rent. New Yorkers who live in rent-stabilized homes with a preferential rent no longer need to have their rent reach the legal rent level before incurring the benefit of a rent freeze. This guidance has been included in the applications for SCRIE and DRIE.
The program is administered by the Department of Finance. The program’s goal is to help eligible senior citizens (over 62 years old) and tenants with qualifying disabilities (over 18 years old) remain in affordable housing. A property tax credit covers the difference between the actual rent amount and the frozen rent amount. The program is only available in rent-regulated apartments unless otherwise noted.
Who Is Eligible?
To qualify for the SCRIE, applicants must:
- Be at least 62 years old;
- Be the Head of Household as the primary tenant named on the lease/rent order or have been granted succession rights in a rent-controlled, rent-stabilized, or a rent-regulated hotel apartment;
- Have a combined household income for all members of the household that’s $50,000 or less; and
- Spend more than one-third of their monthly household income on rent.
To qualify for the DRIE program, applicants must:
- Be at least 18 years old;
- Be named on the lease or the rent order or have been granted succession rights in a rent-controlled, rent-stabilized, or rent-regulated hotel apartment or an apartment located in a building where the mortgage was federally insured under Section 213 of the National Housing Act, owned by a Mitchell-Lama development, Limited Dividend housing company, Redevelopment Company, or Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) incorporated under New York State’s Private Housing Finance Law;
- Have a combined household income that’s $50,000 or less;
- Spend more than one-third of their monthly household income on rent; and
- Have been awarded one of the following:
o Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
o Federal Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI);
o U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs disability pension or disability compensation;
o Disability-related Medicaid if the applicant has received either SSI or SSDI in the past; or
o The United States Postal Service (USPS) disability pension or disability compensation.