File 2012 Rent Registrations by July 31
The Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) has released the forms you need to register your rent-stabilized apartments for 2012. You must file an Annual Apartment Registration form [RR-2A (2012)] with the DHCR for every rent-stabilized apartment you own by July 31, 2012. As in past years, the penalty for not filing is stiff: You can't collect a rent increase—or even apply for one—until you file.
Same as last year, the DHCR has an online rent registration system with the goal of eliminating the need to mail forms or disks to the DHCR. The system will allow you to print tenant forms for distribution. The annual rent registration online system can be found at www.nysdhcr.gov/Apps/RentReg/. Owners still have the option to file the proper forms through traditional methods.
It's important to note that this is the last year owners have the option to file the proper forms through traditional methods. Effective 2013, annual rent registrations submissions by paper will no longer be accepted for filing by the DHCR.
During the registration process, the information asked for on the forms is for rents, tenancy, and services in effect on April 1, 2012. Review the following steps to avoid time-consuming errors in the registration process:
Know which apartments are covered. You must file a 2012 apartment registration form for each rent-stabilized apartment that you owned on April 1, 2011. If you bought a building after that date and the prior owner didn't file a registration for that apartment, you must do so. This includes co-op or condo apartments occupied by rent-stabilized, non-purchasing tenants.
Temporarily exempt apartments. You also must file a 2012 apartment registration form for apartments that the DHCR considers temporarily exempt from rent stabilization. An apartment may be temporarily exempt from rent stabilization if: (1) it's used for transient occupancy such as in hotels or single room occupancies; (2) it's considered a commercial unit rented for business or professional use on April 1; (3) it's occupied by the building owner or members of his immediate family; (4) it's occupied by a building employee who isn't paying rent; or (5) it's occupied by nonprimary residents or tenants who don't use the apartment as a primary residence.
Permanently exempt apartments. You must also register apartments that first qualified as permanently exempt after April 1, 2011. After registering a permanently exempt apartment once, you won't have to register it again in future years. Some grounds for permanent exemption of apartments from rent stabilization may include high-rent vacancy, luxury deregulation, an apartment that has been substantially rehabilitated since the last annual registration, or a qualifying expiration of a J-51 or Section 421-a financing program.
Due to the Rent Act of 2011, the threshold for deregulation has been changed to $2,500 in rent. Prior to this, the threshold was $2,000 in rent.
For high-rent vacancy deregulation, the effective date for the threshold change was June 24, 2011. As a result of these changes, if you select “High Rent Vacancy” or “Other” as a permanent exempt reason, you have to enter the applicable rent change reasons for the permanent exemption of this apartment in the appropriate sections of the form.
For high-rent/high-income deregulation, high-rent apartments occupied by high-income tenants are deregulated by order of the DHCR in response to the filing of an owner's petition for luxury deregulation. Pursuant to the Rent Act of 2011, the thresholds for deregulation have been changed to $2,500 in rent and $200,000 in annual income. Prior to this, the thresholds had been $2,000 in rent and $175,000 in annual income. Since the effective date is July 1, 2011, for this method of deregulation, this is the first year that changes to high-rent/high-income deregulation will begin to apply to rent registration applications. Generally, an owner would indicate this exemption on the 2012 annual registration after having received a final DHCR order granting it in response to the owner's petition for luxury deregulation.
For more information, see the DHCR's Annual Rent Registration 2012—Instructions for Filing booklet for details on the differences between temporarily and permanently exempt apartments. The instruction booklet is available at your local borough rent office and on the DHCR's Web site at www.nysdhcr.gov/forms/rent/2012reginstructions.pdf.
File two required forms. In addition to filing the Annual Apartment Registration Form for each apartment, you must file an Annual Registration Summary Form [RR-2S (2012)] for each building for which one or more apartment registration forms are being filed. You can pick up both forms at your local borough rent office, or you can download PDF versions of the forms at www.nysdhcr.gov/Forms/Rent.
Deliver forms to tenants. Before filing your forms with the DHCR, give the Tenant Copy from each apartment registration form to the tenant who was living in the apartment on April 1, 2012. It's important to give tenants their copies first because you must swear that you have done so on the Registration Summary Form that you file. If the apartment was vacant on April 1, 2012, deliver the Apartment Registration Form to the next tenant who moved in. You need not deliver the Apartment Registration Form to tenants of permanently or temporarily exempt apartments.
Exception: Local Law 12 of 2000 requires you to deliver the Apartment Registration Form to the first tenant who rents a deregulated high-rent apartment. Once you deliver the form to the tenant, you don't have to continue to do so in future years.
You don't need to give tenants a copy of the Registration Summary Form.
How to deliver. You can hand-deliver tenants' copies or send them by regular mail. Although not required, it's a good idea to get proof of delivery. If a tenant later claims not to have gotten a copy of the form, you'll be able to show that you sent it.
If you hand-deliver the form, have each tenant sign a statement acknowledging that he got a copy of it. If you use mail delivery, get a certificate of mailing from the Post Office.
When to deliver form to former tenant. The DHCR's instruction booklet says that you should try to forward a copy of the Apartment Registration Form to the tenant who lived in the apartment on April 1, 2012, but who has since moved out. If your attempt fails, save the copy with the notice of nondelivery that you get from the Postal Service. This is your proof that you tried to deliver the form, if it becomes an issue later.
File forms with DHCR. If filing by mail, place the Apartment Registration Forms and the Registration Summary Forms in an envelope large enough to hold them flat and mail them to: Division of Housing and Community Renewal, Processing Services Unit, Hampton Plaza, 38-40 State St., Albany, NY 12207. (Do not mail or hand-deliver the forms to your local borough rent office or to the DHCR at its Gertz Plaza office in Queens.)
When you mail the forms, use certified mail, return receipt requested. This gives you proof that you filed the forms with the DHCR on time, if the question ever comes up. The DHCR will also return a receipt to the registered owner showing the date received and the apartments registered. You should retain the receipt for your records because it will serve as proof of registration.
How to register online. Your buildings must have been initially registered with the DHCR for you to use the Annual Rent Registration system. The system needs a user ID and password. You can visit the DHCR Web site at http://nysdhcr.gov/Apps/RentReg/ to log in to the system.
To register to use the system you must have received a letter from the DHCR with instructions on registering for a user ID and password. Once you complete the new user registration you'll be issued a user ID and a password will be emailed to you that will allow you to access the system.
If you didn't receive a letter from the DHCR and you haven't previously used the system, you may contact the Processing Services Unit (PSU) via email at PSU@nysdhcr.gov and include your full name, company name (if applicable), mailing address, and phone number.
If you need computer access, the DHCR will provide this level of support in the Queens borough rent office. Owners must obtain a user ID and password from PSU prior to making an appointment with the Owner's Assistance Unit. You can set up an appointment with the Owner's Assistance Unit by calling (718) 739-6400 or email the request to RentInfo@nyshcr.org to use its computers.
File by deadline. The deadline for filing is July 31, 2012. This means your envelope must be postmarked no later than July 31. The DHCR will accept only official U.S. Postal Service postmarks, not postmarks generated by an owner's postage machine.
Report change of ownership/managing agent. If there's a change of ownership or managing agent after the annual registration forms have been submitted, the successor owner must notify the DHCR within 30 days by filing a Report of Change in Identity of Owner/Agent [RA-44].
Avoid penalties. The rent regulations provide for a retroactive “rent freeze” for failure to comply with the annual rent registration requirements. However, the late filing of a registration will result in the prospective elimination of this penalty.
The rent regulations provide that where all rent increases were lawful but for the owner's failure to register, and where the owner files and serves upon the tenant a late registration, the DHCR shall not thereafter find that the owner has collected an overcharge at any time prior to the filing of the late registration.
But this late filing must be done before a tenant files a rent overcharge complaint. If the late registration is filed after the filing of a rent overcharge complaint, the DHCR assesses the owner a late-filing surcharge for each apartment affected and may impose a penalty of up to $250 on owners for each knowing violation of the rent regulations.