Recent changes to rent stabilization embodied in the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, have greatly expanded the circumstances in which a landlord is liable for rent overcharges. You should investigate your situation!
Under prior law, except in the rare case of provable fraud, the statute provided a firm “four-year rule.” That is, the base legal rent for purposes of determining an overcharge was the rent charged four years prior to the date of a tenant complaint of overcharge, regardless of any prior overcharges.
Under the new law, the four-year rule is no more, replaced by a much more flexible “six-year rule.” Now the base legal rent for purposes of determining an overcharge is the “most reliable” registered rent six years or more prior to the date of the complaint. This means that, if there was a suspiciously large rent increase at any point in time, a tenant may be able to pursue an overcharge claim.
You can research your rent history by obtaining a copy of the rent registration history from the Division of Homes and Community Renewal. You can request a copy here. If the history contains a seemingly unexplained increase, you can call for a free telephone consultation.