Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE), a program administered by the NYC Department of Finance, provides protection from rent increases for low-to-moderate income seniors living in NYC rent-regulated apartments. On July 1, 2014, the number of senior citizens eligible to apply for SCRIE will substantially increase.
The increase is the result of Mayor de Blasio’s recent decision to sign legislation increasing the household income eligibility cap from $29,000 to $50,000. If a tenant qualifies for SCRIE, his monthly rent will be frozen at its current level and be exempt from future rent increases. In addition, the City of New York will give the qualifying tenant’s landlord a property tax credit which is equal to the amount of the qualifying tenant’s future rent increases.
In addition to the income eligibility condition, five additional requirements must be met: (1) the tenant must be at least sixty-two years old; (2) the apartment must be rent controlled, rent stabilized, or hotel stabilized; (3) the tenant must be named on the lease or the rent order or have been granted succession rights to the apartment; (4) the tenant must live in the apartment as his primary residence; and (5) the tenant must spend more than one-third of his monthly household income on rent.
If the tenant is approved, the tenant will receive an approval letter with the amount of the tenant’s “frozen rent,” the amount the Department of Finance will be crediting the tenant’s landlord (Tax Abatement Credit, commonly referred to as TAC), and when the tenant’s SCRIE benefit period begins and ends. The tenant’s landlord will also receive an approval letter.
If it takes a few months for the SCRIE unit to approve the tenant’s SCRIE application, the landlord will receive a retroactive SCRIE credit, which is required to be credited to the tenant for the rent payments made by the tenant. For example, if the SCRIE unit receives the tenant’s application on May 15, 2014, but does not approve the application until August 15, 2014, then the tenant’s SCRIE benefit starts on June 1, 2014. If the tenant’s application is denied, the tenant can fill out an appeal form and send it back to the SCRIE unit, however, the appeal must be postmarked no later than sixty days from the date of the denial letter.
If the tenant is approved, the approval letter will indicate when the tenant’s SCRIE benefit period ends. The landlord is legally required to continue the tenant’s SCRIE benefit for six months after the tenant’s SCRIE benefit expires, even if the tenant is not yet renewed. If the tenant wishes to continue the SCRIE benefit after the end date, the tenant must submit a renewal application form. If the SCRIE unit does not receive the renewal application form before the end of the six-month grace period, the tenant must start the process anew and submit the SCRIE Initial Application form.
The SCRIE Initial Application form can be found at nyc.gov/finance. The application and all the required documents should be mailed to the following address: New York City Department of Finance, SCRIE Unit, 59 Maiden Lane, 22nd Floor, New York, New York 10038.
Written by Michael Kozek and Jessica Drury