DHCR Publishes 2013 Annual Review
Recently, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal’s (DHCR’s) Office of Rent Administration (ORA) released its 2013 Annual Review. The publication gives an overview of ORA’s various bureaus that are charged with effectively administering New York State’s rent laws and maintaining the stock of affordable rent-stabilized and rent-controlled housing.
According to the publication, there are approximately 43,000 buildings and 900,000 units under the rent stabilization system today, and approximately 33,800 units under rent control. Here are some highlights from the report:
- The Rent Information Bureau’s centralized telephone processes 8,800 calls monthly, with a daily average of 400. The bureau also maintains an email address, five New York City-based Borough Rent Offices, and a Westchester County District Rent Office that together assist 2,400 walk-in visitors per month.
- Within the Overcharge and Luxury Decontrol Bureau, the Overcharge Unit processes overcharge, lease renewal, and fair market rent appeal complaints from tenants, and handles cases related to evictions and demolition. The Luxury Decontrol Unit of the bureau processes all luxury decontrol cases. In 2012, $1.9 million in treble damages was awarded. This is down from $2 million in 2011. And overcharge amounts awarded were $1.7 million in 2012 as opposed to $1.4 million in 2011.
- The Property Management Bureau processes building-wide owner applications for rent increases based on major capital improvements (MCIs), hardship rent increases, tax abatement offsets, and owner applications for modification of building-wide services. During the past year, ORA reviewed applications related to the investment in capital improvements and modernization of the housing stock in rent-regulated buildings, in excess of $168 million. After review, costs of $120 million were allowed. The most common MCI application in 2012 was for heating system improvements, at 174 applications. Exterior restoration (pointing) came in at a close second at 167 instances.
- In the past year, the compliance unit of the Property Management Bureau pursued recalcitrant owners who hadn’t made repairs, and this resulted in over 40 owners paying fines and making repairs. Many other owners quickly made repairs to avoid the penalties. Other cases were referred to the enforcement unit for prosecution and a formal hearing. Fines of $1,000 to over $10,000 can be levied as a result of the delay in making repairs.
- In January 2012, Governor Cuomo initiated a new approach toward preserving affordable housing by creating the Tenant Protection Unit (TPU). The TPU was part of an aggressive tenant-protection and landlord-fraud prevention initiative. The TPU took proactive measures in 2012, notifying owners who had failed to register their units and requiring them to either reregister or provide an explanation. As a result, close to 25,000 rent-regulated apartments were reregistered and returned to rent stabilization.