Tenant Support Unit

What is PEU's Tenant Support Unit?

The Public Engagement Unit’s (PEU) Tenant Support Unit (TSU) provides assistance to New Yorkers who may be experiencing landlord harassment, are at risk of displacement, or need to make home-related repairs. Tenant Support Specialists conduct proactive outreach to connect tenants in all five NYC boroughs with city programs, legal assistance, and community resources. Our outreach includes door knocking, phone and text banking, hosting office hours with elected officials and community organizations, and tabling with partners (such as farmers markets and libraries) and at community events. New Yorkers can also reach out to the TSU team directly for support through its Tenant Helpline.

A man is holding a laptop while standing in front of a door

Contact PEU's Tenant Support Unit:

For more information on tenants’ rights and the Right to Counsel, call 311 and ask for the “Tenant Helpline” or complete this form.

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PEU's Tenant Support Unit Can Help You With...

Tenant Helpline

The Tenant Helpline is a centralized hub where New Yorkers at risk of displacement or facing a housing-related issue can access information about tenants’ rights and get connected to resources to address their needs. To contact the Tenant Helpline, complete the form below  or call 311 and say, “Tenant Helpline.” You will be prompted to leave a voicemail message with your name and contact information. Please speak clearly when you leave the message so we can call you back. Note that a Specialist will call you back from a number you are not familiar with within 24-48 hours. 

Complete this form and someone from the tenant helpline will be in touch.

Tenant Resource Portal

Need help but not sure where to start? After anonymously answering a series of questions about your situation, this tool provides personalized information to help you learn aboutyour rights and maintain stable housing. Visit nyc.gov/TenantResourcePortal to find resources that may be available to you.

Tenant Rights

TSU is here to help answer your questions about your rights. Regardless of your immigration status, if you have lived in your apartment for more than 30 days or have a lease agreement, it is illegal for someone to pressure or force you to leave your home, to shut off your utilities, to try to get you to leave as punishment, or to lock you out of your home. You have the right to stay in your home!

Learn more about tenants’ rights at nyc.gov/tenantprotections/lockouts.

If you experience an illegal lockout, call 911. If you cannot get back in via the police department, go to the Housing Court in your borough right away. Housing Courts are generally open 9am to 5pm, but you might want to call ahead because hours have shifted due to COVID.

Housing Courts Information
Court Housing Court Address Phone Number

Brooklyn (Kings County)

141 Livingston Street, Brooklyn 11201

347-404-9201

Bronx

851 Grand Concourse, Bronx 10451

718-618-2561

Manhattan (New York County)

111 Centre Street, New York, 10012

646-386-5500

Queens

89-17 Sutphin Boulevard, Jamaica 11435

212-962-4795

Staten Island (Richmond County)

927 Castleton Avenue, Staten Island 10310

718-675-8452


Have questions about your rights? Call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline or complete this form
. 

Right to Counsel

Did you know that NYC tenants have the right to legal assistance when facing eviction? Free “Right to Counsel” legal services are available across all NYC ZIP codes and regardless of immigration status. Call 311 and ask for the “Right to Counsel” to be connected to a PEU Tenant Support Specialist and learn more about how you could be connected with legal services. You don’t have to face eviction alone.

Rent Freeze

SCRIE and DRIE are two rent freeze programs available specifically for NYC seniors and New Yorkers with disabilities to freeze their rent at the current amount listed on their lease.


Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE)

To qualify for SCRIE, New Yorkers must meet the following requirements:

  • Be 62 years old or older.
  • Have a household income of $50,000 or less.
  • Be living in a rent regulated, rent stabilized, rent controlled unit, or single room occupancy (SRO) and be listed on the lease or rent order.
  • Be spending more than ⅓ of their income on rent.


Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE)

To qualify for DRIE, New Yorkers must meet the following requirements:

  • Be 18 years old or older.
  • Have a household income of $50,000 or less.
  • Be living in a rent regulated, rent stabilized, rent controlled unit, or single room occupancy (SRO) and be listed on the lease or rent order.
  • Be spending more than ⅓ of their income on rent.
  • Receive one of the following benefits:
    • Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
    • Federal Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI);
    • S. Department of Veterans Affairs disability pension or compensation;
    • United States Postal Services (USPS) disability pension or compensation; or
    • Disability-related Medicaid if the applicant has received either SSI or SSDI in the past.

 

Call the Rent Freeze Hotline at 929-252-7242 or call 311 and say “Rent Freeze” to speak with a PEU Rent Freeze Specialist about freezing your rent or applying for homeowner tax exemptions.

Homeowner Tax Exemptions

SCHE and DHE are two homeowner tax exemption programs specifically for NYC seniors and New Yorkers with disabilities to help reduce their homeowner taxes.


Senior Citizen Homeowner Exemption (SCHE)

To qualify for SCHE, the owner must meet the following requirements:

  • All owners of the property must be 65 years of age or older by the end of the year, unless the owners are spouses or siblings.
  • The combined annual income of the property owner and spouse or co-owner cannot exceed $58,399.
  • All owners must occupy the property as their primary residence. The applicant’s name should be on the deed.
  • The client must have owned the property for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the date of exemption, unless they received the exemption on their previously-owned residence.


Disabled Homeowners Exemption (DHE)

To qualify for DHE, the owner must meet the following requirements:

  • The combined annual income of the property owner and spouse or co-owner cannot exceed $58,399.
  • All owners must be persons with disabilities, unless the home is owned by spouses or siblings, in which case only one homeowner must have a disability.
  • All owners must occupy the property as their primary residence. The applicant’s name should be on the deed.
  • Proof of disability: The homeowner will need to submit documentation of a disability.


Our Rent Freeze team can also help you with homeowner tax exemptions. Call the Rent Freeze Hotline at 929-252-7242 or call 311 and say “Rent Freeze” to speak with a PEU Specialist about freezing your rent or applying for homeowner tax exemptions.


TSU in the Field

Outreach and Partnerships with Communities

The owner of a building in the Bronx passed away two years ago and the building’s ownership is currently being debated in surrogate court. Given the uncertainty, tenants were concerned that utilities would be shut off and they would lose their SCRIE/DRIE benefits without new leases. PEU heard about the issue from community members and Tenant Support Specialists Hakim, Maria, Jose and Mike canvassed the building to speak with tenants directly. PEU’s Tenant Support Unit then coordinated a meeting with the New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the Public Advocate's office, and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit (CAU) to discuss next steps. Now, the Team is ensuring that essential services are not cut off in the building, repairs are made, and leases are obtained for those without them. The team also worked with HCR to help tenants obtain their rent registration histories (In orde rto have a record of their last registered rent), connect with legal service providers, and submit SCRIE/DRIE applications and renewals.The main step was to keep the  lights on in the common areas and not have any other essential services cut off. We are still working ongetting leases for those who did not have one, repairs done, and providing rental arrears assistance…etc. This will be an ongoing building-wide process, given that the case is still in surrogate court.



Helpline Caller Gets Legal Services

A senior tenant on a fixed income didn't have a lease and received notice that their rent would rise from approximately $500 to $900. The tenant got in touch with a PEU Specialist, who ordered a rent history and determined the unit was rent stabilized in a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) building. This meant that the increase in rent was potentially against the law, so the Specialist worked with the tenant to collect all documentation related to the issue. The Specialist then referred the tenant to a lawyer who reviewed the available documents and assisted in providing clarity about what the tenant's rights were in this situation. Thanks to our Specialist, the tenant now has an accurate lease, resolved the issue, and is confident in their rights being protected.

A woman is asking TSU helpline call in her cubicle
A group of three women representing Mayor Public Engagement Unit smiling as their photoes being taken.

Helping with Rent Freeze

PEU Specialist Hakim called a client who could not renew his rent freeze benefit because his landlord failed to provide a renewal lease.. Thankfully, Hakim knew that when landlords fail to provide tenants with a lease, clients can still keep their rent freeze benefit by submitting a "SCRIE Certification of No Renewal Lease" form. Hakim was able to renew the client's rent freeze application by substituting the missing document with the applicant's ConEd bill as proof of address. Thanks to Hakim's efforts, the client's SCRIE benefit was renewed six weeks later.

A woman is consulting with a P E U specialist about rent freeze

Helping a Client Obtain ERAP During the Pandemic

Specialist Lucia’s client, who lives with her disabled son, became unemployed and lost her husband during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to this, she fell behind on her rent from March 2020 to June 2021. Lucia worked with the client to apply for ERAP (Emergency Rental Assistance Program After several months, the client received $32,000. Congratulations to Lucia on this win and thank you for all your hard work helping your clients!

A P E U specialist is helping a woman to apply Emergency Rental Assistance Program


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to have lawful immigration status to be eligible to receive rental assistance?

Most rental assistance programs are not available to undocumented immigrants. If you have questions about your tenant rights or any rental assistance that might be available to you as an immigrant, call 311. Ask for the “Tenant Helpline” for free one-on-one support.

Can my landlord evict me because of my immigration status?

No. You cannot be evicted based on your immigration status. If you have questions about your tenant rights or rental assistance that might be available to you as an immigrant, call 311. Ask for the “Tenant Helpline” for free one-on-one support.

What rent freeze programs are available for rent stabilized tenants?

SCRIE and DRIE are two programs that help NYC seniors and New Yorkers with disabilities freeze their rent. If you think you may qualify, call our Rent Freeze Hotline to learn more at 929-252-7242 or call 311 and say “Rent Freeze.” For more information, visit nyc.gov/rentfreeze.

How do I know if my apartment is rent stabilized or rent controlled?

To find out if your apartment is rent-regulated you can look at your lease or contact the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (HCR) Office of Rent Administration at: (718) 739-6400 or rentinfo@nyshcr.org.. Or visit the Rent Connect website, https://rent.hcr.ny.gov/RentConnect/Welcome

What programs that PEU works with are available for property owners?

There are a number of Tax Exemption programs, including: SCHE (for NYC seniors), DHE (for New Yorkers with disabilities), STAR/E-STAR, VHE (Veterans), and CHE (Clergy). If you think you may qualify, or are unsure whether you qualify, call our Rent Freeze Hotline to learn more at 929-252-7242 or call 311 and say “Rent Freeze.”

Does TSU help seniors with liens on their home?

We do not directly service liens but we can help seniors connect to tax exemption programs. See here for more information on liens.

To qualify for the Disabled Homeowners Exemption (DHE), what kind of disability proof do I need?

Proof of disability could include a disability award letter from the Social Security Administration, an award letter from the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board or U.S. Postal Service, a certificate from the New York State Commission for the Blind, or a Veterans Administration letter.

Can my landlord change the locks without my permission?

No. You are protected against a lockout if you have lived in the same place for at least 30 days, even if you did not sign a lease. Call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline to speak with a Specialist and learn more about your rights as a tenant. More information on lockouts can be found at nyc.gov/tenantprotections/lockouts.

I reached the Tenant Helpline's voicemail box, will someone call me back?

When calling the Tenant Helpline, please leave a clear voicemail message with your name and phone number and we will return your call as soon as possible. Keep in mind that a Specialist will call you back from a number that you don’t recognize.

CONTACT PEU'S TENANT SUPPORT UNIT:

For more information on tenant rights and the Right to Counsel, call 311 and ask for the “Tenant Helpline.” You will be able to leave a message for one of our specialists who will call you back within 24-48 hours. Make sure to include your name, phone number, and zip code along with your housing issue.