Advantage Tenants: What You Need to Know [Updated]

The Legal Aid Society is in a current legal battle to save thousands of Advantage tenants from losing their rental assistance.

It’s important to note that the case is still going on and orders may change. We will post any changes and updates as soon as we receive them.

Read a fact sheet prepared by Legal Aid here. Y en Español.

If you are being sued in Housing Court:
• Go to Housing Court and answer the petition.
• If you have any bad conditions in your apartment, ask the clerk to schedule an inspection of your apartment.
• Visit the Housing Court Answers information table at Housing Court and visit their website here for information on your rights: http://www.cwtfhc.org/for-tenants
• Call the Legal Aid Office in your borough:
Bronx: 718-991-4600
Brooklyn: 718-722-3100
Manhattan: 212-426-3000
Queens: 718-286-2450
Staten Island: 347-422-5333

You may be eligible for a rent program called FEPS (Family Eviction Prevention Supplement), if:
• Someone in your household gets regular Public Assistance (PA).
• You have a child in your household who is under 18 OR under 19 and still in high school.
• You have been sued in Housing Court
OR you were evicted within the past year for non-payment of rent
OR you had to leave your apartment because of a government vacate order or a foreclosure proceeding
• You have a lease for at least one year and a monthly rent amount that is less than the following amounts (based on the number of people in your household):
1 person – $800
2 people – $900
3 people – $1050
4 people – $1100
(Ask your landlord if s/he will accept this amount of rent in the future.)
• If you have no other funds to pay your back rent, FEPS will pay rent arrears owed to your landlord up to $7,000.
• If your landlord sues you and you are eligible for FEPS, you may be eligible to move to a new apartment if your landlord refuses to give you a lease within the FEPS levels. Call 311 and ask for HomeBase to discuss your options.

If you are disabled, you may be eligible for the Disability Rent Increase Exemption Program (DRIE)
DRIE offers eligible tenants an exemption from rent increases which may result in a reversion to rent paid under a previous lease or rent order. The owner of the building receives a corresponding credit against their real estate taxes from the City of New York. Applicants must meet ALL of the eligibility requirements. Please see eligibility requirements and detailed information about DRIE here.

NY Rent Laws Renewed, But Only With Minimal Improvements

Late last week the New York State Legislature struck a deal to renew rent laws protecting 2.5 million tenants. But the minimal improvements in the law will mean further erosion of affordable, rent-regulated housing in NYC.

The deal reached at the end of an otherwise historic State Legislative session — marked by the breathtaking passage of marriage equality legislation — extends rent and eviction protections for four more years, thus averting the worst possible outcome: the total elimination of the rent laws and the consequent wave of mass evictions and homelessness.

The deal also included some minor improvements to the rent regulation system, among them an increase of the vacancy destabilization threshold (under which apartments become deregulated) from $2,000 in monthly rent to $2,500 and, for buildings with more than 35 apartments, a change in rules governing individual apartment improvements allowing landlords to increase rents (from 1/40th to 1/60th of the cost) – loopholes that have contributed to the loss of hundreds of thousands of rent-regulated apartments.

However, fundamentally, the renewed rent laws fail to address the major weaknesses which were added in 1997 and 2004, when the laws were last renewed, by State Legislators allied to the landlord lobby. Most important, the renewal deal failed to repeal vacancy destabilization entirely and to minimize the vacancy bonuses and allowances that have driven up rents enormously and removed some 300,000 apartments from rent regulation.

Nevertheless, while it is essential to recognize that the renewal deal will require even further work by advocates, tenants, and their Legislative allies, it is also important to see the deal in historical context. Indeed, it is the first time in nearly two decades that New York’s rent laws were renewed without further weakening amendments, a significant achievement given the power and influence of the landlord lobby.

This achievement is a testament to the amazing work of the Real Rent Reform campaign and its allies in the State Legislature, in particular NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Black and Latino Caucus. Tenants and homeless New Yorkers can be grateful for their dedication — and pledge to continue the fight in the coming months and years for even stronger rent laws.

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