What are Rent Stabilization Regulations?

Rent Stabilization or Rent Regulation is set of regulations intended to protect tenants in rental properties from unsustainable or unreasonable rent increases. Rent stabilization regulations aim to keep existing housing affordable for renters in a community. They may also include other goals such as protection against wrongful eviction, encouraging a variety of income levels within a neighborhood, and increasing tenant retention.Rent stabilization regulations are an important tool that can be used to ensure residents are not priced out of their homes and can remain in their communities.

Unsustainable or unreasonable rent increases often occur in communities with very tight rental markets with low rental vacancy rates. In these cases, landlords are able to increase rents due to the high demand for rental units and a low supply of rental options for prospective tenants. In many cases, annual rent increases out pace average wage increases for individuals and households, requiring households to pay a larger and larger share of their monthly income for rent. Click here for more information.

Rent stabilization regulations are implemented by enacting local-level restrictions that limit the amount that can be charged for rent in certain buildings, typically multi-family housing and apartment buildings.These regulations typically limit rent increases based on an allowable annual percentage increase and may include restrictions on actions like evictions.

New York’s Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act

Adopted in 1974, the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA) provided rent stabilization in various municipalities (local opt in) in Nassau, Rockland,and Westchester counties to address a continuing housing emergency (i.e., vacancy rate less than 5%). This rent stabilization applied to non-rent-controlled apartments in buildings of six or more units built before January 1, 1974, in localities that have declared an emergency and adopted ETPA. For rents to be placed under regulation, there must be a rental vacancy rate of less than 5% for all or any class or classes of rental housing accommodations.

In 2019, the NYS Legislature passed the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA), allowing any locality in New York State to enact rent stabilization if a rental vacancy rate of less than 5% for all or any class or classes of rental housing accommodations and “a declaration of emergency” regarding in the subject locality pursuant to the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA) of 1974.

If a municipality in a county outside of Nassau, Rockland or Westchester County declares a housing emergency,a County Rent Guidelines Board will be created by DHCR based on recommendations made by the local municipal government. If additional municipalities in that county subsequently declare emergencies, DHCR will recreate the County RGB to ensure that all of the participating municipalities are represented on the County RGB. The County RGB sets the rates for rent adjustments in covered housing accommodations in the municipality or municipalities that have declared an emergency.

Minimum Criteria for Rent Stabilization Regulation:

  • Complete a Rental Vacancy Rate Survey for non-rent-controlled apartments in buildings of six or more units built before January 1, 1974.
  • Determine that the vacancy rate for applicable rental units is at or below 5%.
  • Adopt a local resolution declaring a housing emergency and enact a local law adopting ETPA.

Assistance for Rent Stabilization Regulation

The Ulster County Planning Board will provide assistance to any municipality that chooses to conduct a rental vacancy rate survey and potentially adopt rent stabilization regulations. Because the rent stabilization regulations would only apply to a subset of rental units in any municipality, the Ulster County Planning Board can also help municipalities determine how many units would be subject to the regulations prior to conducting a rental vacancy rate survey.

For assistance, please contact Kai Lord-Farmer, Senior Planner at the Ulster County Planning Board: klord@co.ulster.ny.us

Additional Resources:

Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA) of 1974 Fact Sheet

New York State Homes and Community Renewal: Rent Stabilization and Rent Control Fact Sheet