LEAP - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

Having trouble finding the information you need about New York City’s Rent Freeze Program? Please see below for the most frequently asked questions about the Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase (DRIE). If, after reviewing all answers, your question has not been answered, please  click one of the following links to contact the SCRIE - DRIE divisions of The Department of Finance (DOF).

 

The Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption Program (SCRIE) provides assistance to eligible seniors so they won’t have to pay certain rent increases. Senior citizen tenants who reside in rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartments can apply for SCRIE through the NYC Department of Finance, and may be entitled to an exemption from future rent increases. If a tenant is approved, landlords are eligible for an equivalent credit (abatement) on property taxes.  Senior citizens living in Mitchell-Lama and other eligible apartments can apply for SCRIE through the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development.

If you own a rent-regulated apartment building, you are entitled to periodically raise rents to cover costs, as determined by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (for rent-stabilized units) or the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (for rent-controlled units).  If you own a Mitchell-Lama or other eligible building, you are also entitled to increases in maximum rent to cover costs.
 
The City of New York will then give you a dollar-for-dollar property tax abatement credit (TAC) to make up for the amount of rent your tenants have been exempted from paying. The Department of Finance authorizes the credits and transfers them to the building owner's property tax account.

No. The tenant does not need permission to apply for SCRIE-DRIE; eligibility is based upon the application and supporting documents.

No. If the applicant is eligible, the applicant is legally entitled to the benefits. Landlords cannot prevent a tenant from participating in the program.

As a SCRIE-DRIE landlord, you are primarily responsible for the following:

  • Helping the Department of Finance verify tenant status, rental amounts, and building information during the application process.
  • Serving your tenants in a timely manner with rental documents such as renewal leases for rent-stabilized tenants and DHCR-issued orders for rent-controlled tenants. You must also ensure that Major Capital Improvement (MCI) orders are served to rent-stabilized and rent-controlled tenants. MCI worksheets should not be substituted for the actual MCI order.
  • Collecting the appropriate rent each month and handling any retroactive adjustments.

Note: It is unlawful to collect, or attempt to collect any payment that is more than the SCRIE-DRIE authorized rent while a valid Approval Order is in effect. Under no circumstances may a landlord retain any overpayment from the tenant while waiting for tax abatement credits to be applied to the owner's account at the Department of Finance.
  
  • Monitoring your SCRIE-DRIE Statement of Account issued by DOF each quarter to ensure you are receiving the amount you are entitled to receive.

  • Keeping DOF’s SCRIE-DRIE Unit aware of rent increases and decreases, changes in building status, ownership or management, and changes in your tenant's status due to a move or death.

  • Registering your rent-stabilized apartments with DHCR every year in April and filing appropriate building and rental information. Owners of rent-controlled apartments can apply for Maximum Base Rent (MBR) adjustments every two years.

  • Reporting any suspected fraudulent application for SCRIE-DRIE by a tenant.


 

  • For Rent Stabilized Apartments:
    You must provide each tenant with a lease stating terms and conditions of the rental agreement, including the monthly rent and the lease dates. You are required by law to serve renewal leases at least 120 days prior to the expiration of the current lease. All leases must be signed by both you and the tenant. This fully-executed lease must be attached to the tenant's application for SCRIE certification. You are also responsible for providing any Major Capital Improvement (MCI) Orders to your rent stabilized tenant.

  • For Rent Controlled Apartments:
    Tenants do not require leases, but instead are served Rental Orders issued by DHCR to the landlord. You are responsible for providing your tenant with the following documents:
    • Maximum Base Rent Order of Eligibility (DHCR Form RO-30)
    • Notice of Maximum Collectible Rent (MCR) or Notice of Increase (for prior year)
    • DHCR Form RN-26 or RN-26L
    • Owner's Report and Certification of Fuel Cost Adjustment Eligibility (Form R33.10), if any.
    • Major Capital Improvement (MCI) Order, if any

After the Department of Finance’s SCRIE-DRIE Unit makes an eligibility determination, an Order of Approval or Denial will be sent to the tenant. If the tenant is approved, you will receive a notification called the Owner Approval Order, stating the effective dates of the exemption period, the amount the tenant is responsible for paying, and the amount of your TAC. A modified Order will be issued if there is a subsequent adjustment in the authorized rent.

When you receive the Owner Approval Order, you must repay the tenant for any overpayments the tenant has made that exceed the amount the tenant is responsible for paying from the effective date of the exemption period. The tenant will stop paying the full collectible rent and begin paying only that portion authorized under the SCRIE-DRIE Program.

The tenant’s rent is frozen at either the rent they were paying prior to the date their SCRIE-DRIE application was received for rent-stabilized or rent-controlled apartments or one-third (1/3) of their monthly income, whichever is greater. The determination of the rent the tenant is paying prior to their SCRIE/DRIE application date depends on the type of apartment. For rent-stabilized apartments, it is the rent that was payable under the lease that was in effect immediately prior to the lease in effect at the time the SCRIE/DRIE application was filed. For rent-controlled apartments, it is the rent that was payable as of December 31st of the calendar year immediately prior to the year in which the SCRIE/DRIE application was filed. The tenant’s rent for Mitchell-Lama and other eligible apartments is frozen at either the maximum rent in effect on the last day of the month in which the DRIE tenant becomes an eligible head of the household or 1/3 of their monthly income, whichever is greater.

Tenants must renew their SCRIE-DRIE eligibility when their lease or rent cycle comes up for renewal — normally every one or two years. They should complete their Renewal Application and return it to Finance immediately after they receive it.

The Department of Finance will send the tenant a reminder notice if the tenant fails to return the Renewal Application within three months. You will also be notified if your tenant has not recertified. The law provides a six-month grace period after the lease has expired in which the tenant is entitled to continue to pay the exempted rent. After six months, the tenant's benefit will cease, and the rent will revert to the full legal rent owed at the beginning of the lease period or rent cycle.

If the tenant is no longer eligible to continue receiving benefits or has failed to recertify, the exemption will be revoked. Both you and the tenant will receive an Order of Revocation. You are then entitled to collect the full rent owed by the tenant unless otherwise directed by the Department. There are certain situations where the DOF will recertify tenants after the expiration of this six- month period. You and the tenant may need to work out a repayment plan for the retroactive portion of the rent that was not collected from the tenant during the grace period.

You can do two things to help your SCRIE-DRIE tenants recertify their eligibility for continued benefits:

  • First, remind them that their one-or two-year lease is about to expire and it's time to renew both the lease and their SCRIE-DRIE eligibility.
  • Second, be sure to issue renewal leases for rent stabilized tenants using the correct Rent Guidelines Board increase * or DHCR-issued Rent Control Documents (RN-26 and Fuel Cost Adjustment) for rent-controlled tenants on a timely basis. The tenant then will have the documents needed to reapply on time. This usually results in a quicker transfer of your TACs.
    • For Mitchell-Lama tenants and tenants of other eligible buildings, if the rent/carrying charge has increased since the tenant’s last DRIE renewal application, please provide an updated rent history printout or rent roll showing the date of the increase, as well as the rent/carrying charge billed before and after the increase date.

    *Tenants who provide leases that do not have the correct RGB increase will be approved with no increase in the TAC until the correct lease is provided.

     

 

You may call 311 for an update on the tenant's application.

Finance maintains a SCRIE account for each landlord to track your tax abatement credits and debits. We then apply credits from your account to offset your property taxes. You will receive a quarterly Statement of Account reflecting credit or debit activity.

Finance maintains a SCRIE account for each landlord to track your tax abatement credits and debits. We then apply credits from your account to offset your property taxes. You will receive a quarterly Statement of Account reflecting credit or debit activity.

Yes, you may apply for your excess SCRIE-DRIE tax credits in the form of a refund.

Note: Your credits will first be used to pay any past due taxes. You can receive only what is left over in your account. You may obtain an Excess SCRIE-DRIE Refund Application by visiting the Department of Finance website at nyc.gov/finance or by dialing 311.

If your account balance falls below zero because of a debit adjustment (for example, as a result of a tenant move or an audit, DOF will add the debit balance to the next tax period and issue an adjusted property tax bill.

The SCRIE-DRIE Program periodically conducts audits on each building where SCRIE-DRIE tenants reside to ensure that the proper tax abatements have been granted over the years. After the Department of Finance completes its building-wide audits, any excess tax abatements that are not offset by claims discovered must be recouped and returned to the City of New York.

Note: The law provides no statute of limitations on the retroactive period for recoupment. Landlords are notified by the Department of Finance when each audit is complete and given a period of time to supply additional information that may be relevant to the audit, or to pay back any over-claimed amounts. Failure to respond may result in the imposition of a lien on the property.

If a tenant vacates your apartment or hotel unit, dies or becomes ineligible for any reason, you must notify the Department of Finance in writing within 30 days by filling out an Affidavit of the Tenant's Ineligibility form. Then mail this form to:

New York City Department of Finance, SCRIE-DRIE Unit, 59 Maiden Lane, 22nd Floor, New York, NY 10038.

You can access the Landlord/Managing Agent Notification of Tenant’s Ineligibility form here: Notification of Tenant's Ineligibility.

In the case of a tenant's death, benefits are revoked the first day of the month following the date of death. However, in some cases, a surviving household member may be eligible for a transfer of SCRIE-DRIE benefits. That person should be encouraged to contact the SCRIE-DRIE Unit as soon as possible. The time frame for benefit takeover applications to be submitted to the Department by surviving members of the household is not the same as that for building owners. The surviving member of the household must submit an application for benefit takeover within six (6) months of the death of the head of the household or within 90 days of notice by DOF informing the household that the rent increase exemption benefit has expired, whichever is later. Please note that this deadline for submitting an application will be extended by the Department under certain circumstances.

Yes. The process is the same as for a tenant appeal. An Appeal form may be obtained online or by calling 311. You can access the Appeal application here: Appeal Application

Using an Appeal form, you must file your appeal within 60 days of the date your Owner Approval, Denial or Revocation Order was issued. State the matter you are appealing and attach relevant documentation supporting your claim, including copies of the order you received from the Department of Finance SCRIE-DRIE Unit. Mail to:

New York City Department of Finance, SCRIE-DRIE Program (Appeals), 59 Maiden Lane, 22nd Floor, New York, NY 10038.

After reviewing your completed Appeal form, the Department of Finance will notify you if more information is needed, a hearing will be scheduled, or if a decision has been made regarding your appeal.

Please do not submit an appeal form if you are requesting an adjustment to the rent due to an MCI, J51, rent reduction, rent restoration, maximum collectible rent increase or any other type of rent discrepancy. Please submit a SCRIE Tax Abatement Credit (TAC) Adjustment application for owner/agents. You may access the Tax Abatement Credit (TAC) Adjustment application here: TAC Adjustment Application

By law, the landlord must issue a new lease to the tenant 120 days before the current lease expires. The new lease must specify the terms and rent amounts, including any increases the landlord will collect. The SCRIE-DRIE Program uses the fully executed lease to determine the appropriate tax abatement for the landlord. DOF’s SCRIE-DRIE Unit also reviews the lease to ensure that the increases are consistent with the percentages authorized annually by the City's Rent Guidelines Board.

  • Can I send one Major Capital Improvement (MCI) Order for all my SCRIE-DRIE tenants who reside in the same building?
    Yes. The MCI increase will be processed on a building-wide basis. All SCRIE-DRIE tenants living in the building will receive an adjusted benefit.

     

  • The MCI Order, which is authorized by DHCR, entitles the landlord to receive a rent increase. The MCI increase will be covered by SCRIE-DRIE if the MCI is issued after or within 90 days of the date the initial SCRIE-DRIE application was received. If the MCI was issued more than 90 days before the SCRIE-DRIE initial application receipt date, then it is not covered by SCRIE-DRIE.

    NOTE: It is important to provide a copy of the MCI Order to the tenant. Worksheets or letters are not an acceptable form of verification for an MCI.

    No. SCRIE-DRIE does not cover individual apartment improvements. These are the tenant’s responsibility. However, if the improvement will become a permanent increase in the tenant’s rent, you would need to notify SCRIE-DRIE of the increase so that it can be added to the tenant’s frozen rent.

    The Tax Abatement Credit (TAC) Report provides information on the landlord's tax abatement credits (TACs) on behalf of a SCRIE-DRIE tenant. This report shows the rent calculations for the TACs. In addition, it gives the effective dates, the exemption amount, and the amount the tenant is responsible for paying. It also shows the dates the credits were electronically transferred to the landlord's SCRIE-DRIE property tax account at the Department of Finance. TAC reports are available once you log into the application and click on the TAC tab.

    DRIE will pay for rent/carrying charge increases, and in certain instances, Capital Assessment increases. We encourage you to complete a Tax Abatement Credit (TAC) Adjustment Application and supply documentation showing the date of the increase, as well as the rent/carrying charge amount billed before and after the increase.


    Continuing Eligibility Information

    There are instances where the Department of Finance’s SCRIE-DRIE Unit must determination about continued eligibility or whether to adjust a tenant's exemption rate and the landlord's tax credit. Here are some of the circumstances that may occur:

    Rent Reduction Orders - If a landlord receives an order from DHCR to reduce rents, the exemption for SCRIE-DRIE tenants will be affected. If the amount of the reduced rent falls below the SCRIE-DRIE frozen rent, the tenant's SCRIE-DRIE benefit will then suspended since there would no longer be an exemptible increase.

    Rent Restoration Orders - After the landlord has corrected the conditions for a Rent Reduction Order, the landlord must provide the Department of Finance’s SCRIE-DRIE Unit with a copy of a Rent Restoration Order to reactivate their previous exemption benefit.

    Apartment Benefit Transfer - This is a legal provision that allows tenants to transfer all or part of their exemption from one rent-regulated residence to another. When a former SCRIE-DRIE tenant moves into your building, he or she must submit an Apartment Benefit Transfer Application to the Department of Finance SCRIE-DRIE Unit within 120 days after the tenant has moved into the apartment under most circumstances . The amount of the new exemption will be recalculated based primarily on the most recent rent exemption the tenant received at the former apartment.

    Redetermination - The applicant can request a redetermination of their frozen rent amount if they have experienced a 20% or more permanent decrease in their income since their last approved application. If they are approved for the redetermination, the landlord and the tenant will receive an adjustment order indicating the new frozen rent, the effective date, and the amount of additional TAC that the landlord will receive.


    Additional Information

    Landlord Express Access Portal (LEAP)


    Need Help? Contact 311 or Email Us.

    Visit the SCRIE/DRIE walk-in office from 8:30am - 4:30pm at:
    66 John Street, 3rd Floor
    New York, NY 10038