When a tenant moved in between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 1998, increases in the Maximum Allowable Rent (MAR) became available on a "use it or lose it" basis only.
Generally, if a tenant moved in between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 1998, and if their current rent level has resulted from legal increases, then they are paying the Maximum Allowable Rent.
Vacancy Increases in the MAR for Move-Ins 1996-1998
In this time period, the MAR could have been increased during vacancy by up to 15% or up to 70% of the HUD Fair Market Rate. The landlord had to charge these amounts as the initial rent or they were lost. The initial rent the landlord charged established the Maximum Allowable Rent, even if the landlord did not increase the rent or charged less than the MAR in the previous tenancy.
These vacancy increases were only available if the previous tenant had moved out voluntarily, had abandoned the unit or was evicted for nonpayment of rent. If the tenant moved out for any other reason, no increase was allowed during vacancy.
The landlord should have re-registered the established rent after the vacancy whether they increased or decreased the MAR. Otherwise, the unit is not in substantial compliance with the Ordinance and not eligible for any annual general adjustments of the MAR.
Annual Increases in the MAR for 1996-1998 Move-Ins
The rent for 1996-1998 tenants may only be increased once a year by the annual general adjustment established by the Rent Stabilization Commission (more information about the general adjustment of the MAR). The unit must be in substantial compliance with the Ordinance (re-registered after vacancy, 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 Decrease Cases for 1996-1998 Move-Ins
Tenants who moved into rent stabilized units prior to 1999, should be aware that the MAR's level is still calculated based on the original MAR established in exchange for certain housing services in April 1984, or, if the unit wasn't rented then, the first date the unit was rented after that.
A 1996-1998 tenant may apply for a decrease hearing if the landlord does not replace window or floor coverings when they're seven years old, paint the unit after 4 years or replace/repair an appliance that isn't in good working condition. The tenant may also request a hearing for violations of health, fire, safety or property maintenance codes for which an authorized inspection agency has issued notices or citations.
However, for other housing services, the Department may only enforce the maintenance of the services' condition on April 30, 1984, or the first time the landlord provided them after that. If the landlord won't repair or restore such a service (for instance, a gate's latch doesn't close; the pool isn't heated), the tenant must show that the service is substantially reduced in comparison to the service's condition on April 30, 1984, or the first date it was offered after that. (If the latch didn't work or the pool wasn't heated back then, the Department might not grant a rent decrease).
The MAR may be decreased in a hearing due to the landlord's failure to perform maintenance or to restore a housing service. If the landlord performs the work or restores the service, the Department will restore the decreased amount to the current tenant's rent, even if the decrease was granted during an earlier tenancy.