Division of Housing and Community Renewal

Processing of Rent Overcharge Complaints in New York City

About 1 million housing units in New York City are subject to rent stabilization regulations, which are administered by the Division of Housing and Community Renewal. If a tenant in these units formally complains that his or her rent is excessive, the Division must evaluate the complaint. If a rent is found to be excessive, the tenant is awarded a refund of the excessive amounts and may also be awarded a penalty payment from the landlord. We examined the procedures used by the Division to process rent complaints from tenants.

We found there was a backlog of about 30,000 unresolved complaints and determined that, on average, more than four years was required to resolve such complaints. In fact, if the complaints continue to be filed and processed at the current rate, the backlog will not be eliminated for another ten years. We estimate that the backlog of unresolved complaints could represent as much as $69 million in rent refunds and penalties for tenants. However, many tenants never receive their rent refunds and penalties because, by the time their complaints are resolved, they have moved and cannot be located. The Division has taken several actions to improve processing time and we recommend additional actions that can be taken.

For a complete copy of 95-S-120 click here.
For a copy of the associated follow-up report click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.