I Think My Landlord Is Overcharging Me

Written by Cate Carrejo
Updated 12/16/2019

Everyone knows that crooked landlords exist in New York City, but they’re like seeing J-Lo in the Bronx — you know it happens to other people, but can’t imagine it actually happening to you. Unfortunately, it happens every single day to every kind of New Yorker, and you need to know your rights to avoid being taken advantage of by your building manager. If you think your landlord is overcharging you, you may have a few different options for recourse depending on the type of charges. 

Rent Control

If you live in a rent-controlled apartment, the terms of your rent payment are strictly controlled. If you think your unit is supposed to be rent-controlled but it currently isn’t, contact NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), the state agency that keeps the official list of all rent-controlled apartments. If your unit is supposed to be rent-controlled, your landlord may be overcharging you and you could be entitled to protections including triple damages for overcharging and increased security built into your lease.

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Renovation Costs

If you’re moving or recently moved into an apartment that’s been recently renovated, look into the unit’s history to make sure it isn’t supposed to be rent-controlled. You can request the rent history to see the rate it has been rented at, if it is a rent-stabilized apartment, by using JustFix.nyc’s free rent history request tool. Sometimes landlords increase the alleged costs of improvements because if the costs of the renovation makes the value of the rent over $2700 (the maximum rent for a rent-stabilized unit) that apartment automatically become unregulated. Those kinds of loopholes are part of the reason why the affordable housing crisis in the city has gotten worse, but the recent passage of the Statewide Housing Security and Protection Act of 2019 should help.

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Your Rent History can help you find out if your apartment is rent stabilized and if you are being overcharged on rent. Our online form makes it quick and easy.

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Security Deposit And Damages

Let’s say you’re getting ready to move out of your apartment. You’ve been a model tenant and nothing in your apartment has been damaged the entire time you’ve lived there (or you performed any necessary repairs yourself). You feel entitled to get back the full amount of your security deposit, but your landlord feels differently. 

Your landlord can only charge a “reasonable amount” for damages. Although they’re not required to provide one, try asking for an itemized list of all deductions. Record of that communication can help you prove your legal case if you have to take your case all the way to small claims court.

Security deposits aren’t required by the state, only recommended, and they’re only regulated for rent-controlled units. The maximum a landlord can charge on a rent-stabilized apartment is one month’s rent, so if you paid more than that in a stabilized unit, you’re entitled to compensation. 

No matter how much you paid for your security deposit, you are legally protected regarding how long your landlord can take to give you back whatever deposit you’re entitled to. New York courts have determined that you have the right to get your money back between 21 and 45 days after moving out of your apartment.

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Learn more about overcharges

Read more about New York’s security deposit laws, and your rights as a tenant, so you can stay up to date with all the changes that the 2019 rent laws package has implemented.

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Exercise Your Tenant Rights

JustFix.nyc creates tools to protect your housing rights, from getting repairs to responding to eviction notices. Enter your address to see our tools.

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