DHCR Increases Air-Conditioner Rent Surcharge for 2018–19

The Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) recently announced an increase in this year’s air-conditioner rent surcharge for owners who pay for electricity. It set the monthly surcharge at $26.42, up 40 cents from $26.02 last year. This year’s decrease reflects a 1.5 percent increase in the price of electricity for electrical inclusion buildings as calculated by the Rent Guidelines Board’s 2018 Price Index of Operating Costs issued in April 2018.

The Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) recently announced an increase in this year’s air-conditioner rent surcharge for owners who pay for electricity. It set the monthly surcharge at $26.42, up 40 cents from $26.02 last year. This year’s decrease reflects a 1.5 percent increase in the price of electricity for electrical inclusion buildings as calculated by the Rent Guidelines Board’s 2018 Price Index of Operating Costs issued in April 2018.

The latest surcharges appear in the DHCR’s 33rd annual update of Section B of Supplement No. 1 to Operational Bulletin 84–4. This year’s update tells you what you can collect in the period beginning on or after Oct. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2019, for an air conditioner installed in a tenant’s apartment during this period. It also tells you how to adjust the rent surcharges you’re already collecting from a rent-stabilized tenant for an air conditioner installed on or after Oct. 1, 1985, through Sept. 30, 2018.

The annual update also stipulates that for cases in which a brand new air conditioner is purchased and installed by the owner with the rent-controlled or rent-stabilized tenant’s written consent to pay for it, one-fortieth (1/40th) of the cost of the new air conditioner in buildings that contain 35 or fewer housing accommodations or one-sixtieth (1/60th) of the cost in buildings that contain more than 35 housing accommodations, including any cost of installation, but excluding finance charges, if any, may be included in the base rent.

In the case of a rent-controlled apartment, the owner must notify the DHCR of the rent increase, and the increase will be effective as of the first rent payment date following such notification. In the case of a rent-stabilized apartment, separate notification to the DHCR isn’t required, but should be included in the next annual rent registration statement, and the increase is effective on the first rent payment date following installation.

There’s no change in the $5 monthly surcharge you can collect when a rent-controlled or rent-stabilized tenant who pays for electricity installs an air conditioner that extends beyond the window line.

You can pick up a copy of the updated bulletin at your local borough rent office or download it from the DHCR’s website, www.nyshcr.org.

Key cutoff. Oct. 1, 1985. The update doesn’t apply to air conditioners installed before Oct. 1, 1985. If you’ve been collecting an authorized rent hike for an air conditioner installed before that date, you may continue to do so.

Use chart to calculate rent changes. We’ve prepared two charts to help you figure rent surcharges and increases you’re entitled to and when you can start collecting them: Rent-Stabilized Apartments: Air-Conditioner Rent Surcharge Chart, and Rent-Controlled Apartments: Air-Conditioner Rent Surcharge Chart.

Note that the amount you’re entitled to collect from a tenant and when you can start collecting it depend on a variety of factors, including who pays for electricity, who installed the air conditioner, and when it was installed.

Notify rent-stabilized tenants about change in surcharge. When you send rent-stabilized tenants their first rent bill that includes the new $26.42 surcharge, it’s smart to include a brief letter telling them that the surcharge has been reduced based on the DHCR’s most recent operational bulletin. This way, tenants won’t be confused about why the surcharge has changed. You can use the following language in your letter:

Model Language

As of Oct. 1, 2018, your air-conditioner surcharge has been increased from $26.02 per month to $26.42 per month. This decrease was made in accordance with the 33rd annual update of Section B of Supplement No. 1 to the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) Operational Bulletin 84-4. The air-conditioner surcharge on your rent bill is adjusted annually by the DHCR, depending on the cost of electricity.