The Maximum Allowable Rent for tenancies that began in 1999 or later is determined by a process of decontrol/recontrol. Although the unit's rent is decontrolled during vacancy, it goes back under rent stabilization once the new tenant moves in.
MAR Increases During Vacancy
Each time a unit is vacant, the rent and the housing services offered in exchange for it are decontrolled. Once the unit is rented the rent level and the housing services offered for it are recontrolled under the Ordinance.
If a tenant moves into a unit on or after January 1, 1999, the basis for the Maximum Allowable Rent is established with the beginning of the tenancy. The landlord sets the Maximum Allowable Rent at whatever amount s/he initially charges the tenant. The housing services are also set at whatever the landlord and tenant agree to include in the lease or whatever services the landlord leaves in the unit at move-in. Once the tenant moves in, the unit is subject to the same maintenance requirements, limits on increases and fees, eviction and harassment restrictions as any other rent-stabilized unit.
The landlord must re-register the unit with the new rent and housing services or the unit will not be in substantial compliance with the Ordinance and will not be eligible for annual general adjustments.
The MAR and Annual Increases
The current Maximum Allowable Rent is the same as the actual amount of rent the tenant pays if this amount resulted from legal annual increases since the move-in date. The MAR may be increased once a year by the amount determined by the Rent Stabilization Commission. The unit must be in substantial compliance with the Ordinance (re-registered when current tenant moved in, annual rent registration fees paid) before the MAR may be increased.
A rent overcharge may exist if the landlord has increased these tenants' rent above the Maximum Allowable Rent. This would happen if the landlord has increased the tenants' rent:
- more often than once a year except for amounts ordered by a hearings examiner;
- by an amount greater than the general adjustment set by the Commission;
- without having paid yearly rent registration fees or
- without re-registering the unit after vacancy.
If a tenant has been overcharged rent, the landlord would have to restore all the overpayments to the tenant.
Landlords and tenants who want to check whether the rent for a unit is correct, may contact the Department. To do this, they must be able to answer the following questions:
- What date did the current tenant move-in?
- What rent is the tenant currently paying?
- When and how much was the last rent increase?
If you have this information, you may contact an Information Coordinator at (323) 848-6450.
The MAR and Rent Decreases
For 1999 and later tenants, the MAR and the housing services provided by the landlord are re-set with each new tenancy. The new tenancy wipes out all decreases in effect for lack of maintenance. Decreases granted during earlier tenancies will not be restored even if the landlord should perform the work.
The provision and condition of housing services on a tenant's move-in date will set the level of services that the Department can enforce for most issues. If a service was already removed prior to the tenant's move-in, then the Department cannot enforce that a post-1999 tenant receive a service that used to be provided to the unit or in the common area.
A tenant may also apply for a rent decrease hearing if the floor and window coverings are over seven years old, paint is over 4 years old, appliances are not working or conditions exist that violate health, fire, safety, housing or property maintenance codes. For these issues, if there had already been a decrease decision during a previous tenancy and the landlord has still not corrected the problems, a 1999-or-later tenant may apply for a new hearing after asking the landlord to perform the work.
For information on applying for a decrease case due to a landlord removing or not maintaining a housing service, please refer to the Guide To Rent Stabilization.