Q: I live in a rent stabilized apartment and the garage in the building will be inoperable for six months for repairs. Can I receive a reduction of a portion of the rent because I will not be able to use the garage?
A: Yes, a rent stabilized tenant may be entitled to a rent reduction when the landlord fails to provide certain services to the tenant. A landlord of a rent stabilized apartment must provide and maintain certain services under rent stabilization regulations. These required services include repairs, heat, hot and cold water, maintenance, painting and janitorial services, elevator service and ancillary services such as garage and recreational facilities (the “Required Services”).
When there is a decrease in the Required Services, a tenant may be able to make a claim for a rent reduction to the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (“DHCR”) by filing an “Individual Tenant Statement of Complaint of Decreases in Services” (DHCR Form RA-81). If the DHCR determines that the landlord failed to maintain the Required Services, the DHCR can issue a written order that directs the landlord to restore the services and reduce the rent for the apartment.
The DHCR website and the New York City Rent Guidelines Board website are good resources for information regarding rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments.
Important Tip: A real estate agent should refrain from providing advice on when a rent reduction is appropriate. All such inquiries should be referred to the appropriate government agency or an attorney.
The Legal Line Question by:
Neil B. Garfinkel
REBNY Broker Counsel
Partner-in-charge of real estate and banking practices at Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson, LLP