SCRIE - Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption

SCRIE - Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption

What is SCRIE, and who qualifies?

SCRIE - Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption - is a program that can freeze the rents for senior citizens living in the following types of housing in New York City:

  • rent-stabilized
  • rent-controlled
  • Mitchell-Lama and Redevelopment Company buildings (both tenants and co-op shareholders are eligible), HDFC co-ops, and Federally-assisted co-ops 
  • buildings regulated by the loft board

To be eligible:

  • the tenant, or the older spouse of the tenant, must be 62 or older 
  • household income (after deductions including all income taxes and Social Security taxes) must be less than $50,000 
  • the rent must be at least 1/3 of the household income as of the time of the application or as of the effective date of an upcoming rent increase 

Disabled tenants, regardless of age, may be eligible for DRIE - Disability Rent Increase Exemption.

Legal Disclaimer:

The information contained on this web page does not constitute legal advice and must not be used as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer qualified to give advice on legal issues pertaining to housing. For more, visit our page on Finding a lawyer.

This information pertains only to tenants living in New York City.

Many of your rights depend on the type of housing you live in or your type of tenancy. You may be subject to different laws and have different sets of rights than even neighbors in your own building. Learn which rights and responsibilities apply to you.

 

How can I apply for SCRIE?

Rent-stabilized and rent-controlled tenants:

The New York City Department of Finance administers the SCRIE program for rent-stabilized and rent-controlled tenants. 

To obtain the form:

  • Download the SCRIE form here or visit the NYC Dept. of Finance's SCRIE page.
  • Call 311, New York City's central information number, and ask the form to be mailed to you.
  • SCRIE applications are available at many senior centers and other social service agencies.

Mitchell-Lama and Redevelopment Company developments, Article XI co-ops, and Federally-assisted co-ops:

Residents of Mitchell-Lama and Redevelopment Company developments, Private Housing Finance Law article XI (HDFC) co-ops, and Federally-assisted co-ops are covered by SCRIE, but SCRIE applications for residents of these buildings are handled by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), not by the Department of Finance. Go here to  download the form and obtain other information.

 

Will SCRIE lower my rent?

No. SCRIE is a program that freezes rents. If you are already paying over 1/3 of your income in rent, your rent will not be lowered, but as long as you remain eligible, you can continue to have your rent frozen at the rent you paid when you first entered SCRIE. 

 

Can I get SCRIE for an unregulated (market-rate) apartment?

No. Senior citizens who rent apartments that are not regulated are not eligible for SCRIE benefits. SCRIE is a program that only covers tenants in rent-stabilized, rent-controlled, Mitchell-Lama and certain other government-assisted developments

 

How is my income determined for SCRIE? What if I make just over $50,000?

The income limit for SCRIE is based on income after deducting all income and Social Security taxes you paid, as well as union dues and court-ordered support payments. If you had to pay any Social Security taxes or income taxes for the year before you apply for SCRIE, it's unlikely that your income for the purpose of determining eligibility for SCRIE will be the same as your gross income as shown on your tax return. Before concluding that you don't qualify for SCRIE, be sure to calculate your net income after subtracting the allowable deductions listed on Section G of the SCRIE application. Also, if your income for the year before you apply was higher than it will be in the current year because you retired last year, you may be found eligible for SCRE based on your post-retirement income, so attach documentation of your pre-retirement and post-retirement income to your application.

 

Based on my income, it doesn't look like I can afford my rent and living expenses. Can I get SCRIE if my rent and other expenses are paid for by withdrawals from savings or by gifts from family or friends?

If the income you report on your SCRIE application (which does not include savings withdrawals, gifts, or inheritances) is less than your total rent for the year, you may be asked to document how you can afford to pay the rent, such as by showing that you are drawing on savings or that you have received gifts or inheritances. Stating that you have a source of support that is not treated as income for determining SCRIE eligibility will not affect your right to a SCRIE order, but may require you to provide additional documentation in support of your SCRIE application. 

 

If I wasn't required to file a federal income tax return, how can I satisfy the requirements of SCRIE?

If you do not file a federal tax return, you must submit proof of each source of income you list on the SCRIE application. Appropriate proofs of income include a Form W-2 for wage income, a Form 1099-SSA for Social Security retirement or disability income; a Form 1099-R for pension or annuity retirement income, an award letter for SSI income, and year-end bank & brokerage account statements for investment income.

 

If I receive a lump sum payment that puts me above the SCRIE limit, will I lose my SCRIE benefits?

The definition of income for SCRIE specifically excludes gifts, inheritances, and payments made to individuals because of their status as victims of Nazi persecution, but otherwise includes income from all sources, whether subject to income taxes or not. Neither the Department of Finance nor HPD have issued detailed regulations interpreting what is treated as income and what is excluded, so if your situation is not directly addressed by the guidance documents on the Department of Finance's website, you should consult a tenant lawyer for advice.

If you receive a one-time payment that is not excluded from your income in determining SCRIE eligibility, it may put you above the SCRIE income limit. If you are already in the SCRIE program, you could lose your SCRIE benefits and have to reapply in a later year to have your rent frozen at whatever level it is at then. In subsequent years, the money received as a lump sum will be treated as an asset, not as income. Interest, dividends and capital gains received from assets are included in income, but withdrawals from savings accounts and other investments are not. 

 

If I have a roommate, do I have to report his or her income on my SCRIE application?

A roommate who is not a member of your family and who pays you money to live in your apartment is not treated as part of your household and you do not have to report that roommate's income on your SCRIE application, but you must report as income the amount of money you received from a roommate.

 

Can my landlord refuse to honor my SCRIE order?

No. Eligible tenants are legally entitled to SCRIE benefits and landlords do not do not have the
right to refuse to participate or to prevent a tenant from participating in the SCRIE
Program. 

 

What if my landlord does not offer me a renewal lease, but I need to submit a renewal application for SCRIE?

If you are a rent-stabilized tenant receiving SCRIE and your landlord does not offer a renewal lease, you must still submit a renewal application when your SCRIE order expires. In lieu of a renewal lease, you must fill out and submit a Certification By SCRIE Renewal Applicant Without a Renewal Lease along with your renewal application. In addition, you must submit, as proof that you currently reside in the apartment, either a rent bill from the current or previous month or a utility bill in your name from the current or previous month.

 

If I was denied SCRIE when I first applied, or I was terminated from the SCRIE program, how can I appeal this decision?

You must fill out and submit a SCRIE Appeal Form to the Department of Finance, along with any documentation you have to support your appeal. You may want to get assistance with your appeal from a lawyer or tenant advocate. 

 

When a tenant receiving SCRIE moves or dies and an eligible family member succeeds to the tenancy, can his or her successor continue paying the same SCRIE amount?

There are no automatic succession rights to SCRIE benefits. A surviving or remaining household member may qualify for a transfer of SCRIE benefits, but only if the tenant previously reported the successor's name and income on his or her SCRIE application or renewal forms. The surviving individual must also meet the basic criteria for eligibility (e.g., being over 62 years of age). If the death or departure of the tenant has resulted in a permanent reduction of household income of 20 percent or more, the surviving SCRIE beneficiary can request that the Department of Finance adjust the exemption amount. 

 

If I want to move to another apartment, can I transfer my SCRIE and continue paying the same amount?

If you move from one rent-regulated apartment to another, you may be able to transfer your SCRIE benefits, but you should get assistance from an advocate in this process. Download the SCRIE portability application form. 

 

How does SCRIE work? Who pays for the rent increases?

When an application is approved and a SCRIE Order of Eligibility is issued, the landlord is given a credit toward its New York City real property taxes on the building where the tenant lives, equal to the difference between the legal rent and the amount the tenant must pay under the SCRIE order. Because the city subsidizes the tenant's rent indirectly by giving a tax break to the landlord and not through a program included in the city or state budget, it is much less vulnerable to the budget-cutting political pressures that impact other important housing programs.