Generally speaking, rent increases are negotiable in NYC. You may attempt to negotiate down a proposed renewal rate with your landlord. Keep in mind however that a landlord has no obligation to accept your counteroffer. This is especially true if you live in a free-market apartment and you’ve proposed a below-market rent. Moreover, in the case of a free-market apartment, a landlord has no obligation to renew your lease.
Your landlord may legally raise your rent by more than 5% if you live in an unregulated apartment. There are no laws which cap rents or annual increases when it comes to free-market apartments.
However, landlords of unregulated NYC apartments are required to provide sufficient notice when raising rent by more than 5% (or when declining to offer a renewal). The minimum notice period is 30 days for a lease term (or occupancy period) of less than 12 months, 60 days for a lease term (or occupancy period) of one to two years and 90 days for a lease term (or occupancy period) of at least two years.
If your landlord fails to provide adequate notice, you are entitled to remain in the unit at the current rental rate until the full notice period elapses.
The easiest way to minimize rent increases in NYC is to be on good terms with your landlord. This is especially true if your landlord is an individual as opposed to a large organization. If your landlord thinks you’re a good person and feels an emotional connection to you, it will be much harder for her or him to hold out for every last penny when it comes to a lease renewal negotiation.
Here are some tips for how to build the best possible relationship with your NYC landlord:
Don’t be rude or passive aggressive
The single most counterproductive thing you can do as a tenant is to be rude or passive aggressive. From a landlord’s perspective, there’s nothing worse than having a tenant who lacks a filter and has a tendency to send nuclear emails (particularly for trivial issues). Expect to have no chance of getting a good deal on a renewal if you behave in an uncivil manner.
Another way to draw the ire of your landlord is to be passive aggressive, particularly in conjunction with slow replies to reasonable requests (like allowing access for the plumber). If you fall into this trap, be prepared for your landlord to offer no renewal whatsoever, or to hold out for every last penny when negotiating with you.