State Bans AC Charges in Rent-Regulated Housing

A bill from State Senator Robert Jackson and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz that prohibits owners from imposing a surcharge on tenants for the use of a tenant-installed air conditioner has been signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul (S2012A/A992A). The law went into effect on Nov. 21.

The backdrop: Previously, owners were authorized to impose a $5 per month per air conditioner surcharge to rent-stabilized or rent-controlled tenants who installed their own air conditioners beyond the building’s window line. This charge applied even if the tenant were also paying for their own electricity. The rationale for the surcharge was to account for the increased wear on a building’s plumbing and electrical systems. However, tenant advocates opposed the surcharge as a way for landlords to increase the cost of housing by imposing a non-rent fee on rent-regulated tenants.

What you need to know: Under the new law, tenants who pay for their own electricity and install their own air conditioners cannot be charged for their air conditioner unit. As of Nov. 21, 2022, in rent-stabilized and rent-controlled apartments, owners are prohibited from the continued collection and from the prospective imposition of a surcharge on a tenant for the use of a tenant-installed air conditioning unit if the tenant pays for the electric utility service. For rent-controlled apartments, the $5 per month surcharge previously collected can no longer be included in the Maximum Collectible Rent (MCR).

As a result of the new law, the DHCR’s Office of Rent Administration has updated the following documents to reflect the new law:

  • Fact Sheet #27: Air Conditioners
  • Fact Sheet #44: Fees
  • Operational Bulletin #84-4-37: Permissible Charges for the Use and/or Initial Installation of an Air Conditioner
  • Form #RA-LR1: New York City Lease Rider for Rent Stabilized Tenants
  • Form #RA-LR1 ETPA: ETPA Standard Lease Addenda for Rent Stabilized Tenants
  • Form #RN-79B: Owner's Application for Air Conditioner Charges or For an Increase in Maximum Rent for Painting