DHCR’s Tenant Protection Unit has initiated an aggressive program of surveillance and enforcement regarding legal rents in stabilized apartments. One aspect of this program which is disturbing is the degree to which it relies on incorrect or incomplete data.
The program has thus far looked at significant rent increases between two years’ registration data. Such rent increases are explicitly allowed in the rent laws and may occur because of apartment improvements on vacancy, because of vacancy allowances or longevity bonuses, or for other reasons.
CHIP can provide assistance in helping you do two things: preventing vulnerability in your rent histories, and responding to a TPU audit should you be targeted by them.
DHCR is also investigating buildings with J51 tax benefits which may have deregulated units. This is a particularly complex matter; setting rents and determining exposure are highly fact dependent. CHIP can offer assistance in addressing these investigations. And of course, your attorney should be made aware of any such actions.
Note that the legal basis for the TPU is currently being challenged in court by CHIP and other owner groups.