When a New York City rent stabilized apartment owner wants the apartment back
By JAY ROMANO of the New York Times

Q. I am a rent-stabilized tenant in an 18-unit building that was recently sold. The new owner has made it clear that the building will be converted to a one-family home for his family. Is there a law that protects tenants in a situation like this?

A. Jarred I. Kassenoff, a Manhattan real estate lawyer, said that an owner may take back rent-stabilized apartments for his own use or for the use of an immediate family member. “There are no limitations on the number of units that can be sought for this purpose,” Mr. Kassenoff said.

width=300But, he said, if an owner wants to take over an apartment occupied by a tenant — or the tenant’s spouse — who is disabled or 62 or older, the landlord must provide an equal replacement apartment in the immediate area at the same rental terms as the stabilized rent.

Moreover, Mr. Kassenoff said, an owner can evict a stabilized tenant only after the current lease expires, and provided he gives written notice of nonrenewal 90 to 150 days before the expiration. He said that owners must actually use the recaptured apartments as their (or their family members’) primary residence for at least three years or penalties can be imposed, including possible triple damages to a wrongly evicted tenant.

Q. I know that a landlord can recover a stabilized apartment for his personal use, but can a landlord refuse to renew a stabilized lease because he intends to use the apartment “in connection with his business”?

A. David Ng, a Manhattan lawyer who represents tenants, says the rent-stabilization law allows an owner to decline to renew a stabilized lease — and apply to the state’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal to take back the apartment after the existing lease term — if the landlord seeks to withdraw the apartment from the rental market and has no intent to re-rent it or sell the building. Moreover, Mr. Ng said, the landlord must prove he intends to use the space in connection with his business.

For example, if the landlord was reclaiming the apartment for use solely as a management office for the building, that would probably be allowed. If, on the other hand, it could be shown that the landlord really intended to re-rent the space for commercial purposes, that would probably be disallowed.

Mr. Ng noted that because the landlord must prove his case to the agency, it would be wise for the tenant to hire a lawyer.

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Written by Lorenzo

Lorenzo has been hanging around the RDNY.com office for the past 20 years, and, in the process, has become the president of RDNY.com, Rent-Direct.com, and Acmelistings.com. His mission is to build RDNY.com into New York's largest no fee apartment rental service. Before RDNY.com, Lorenzo was a Regional Sales Manager for Time Equities, Inc., one of New York's largest converters of rental buildings to coops and condos. Lorenzo was once a part owner of Swift & Watson Real Estate in NYC's Greenwich Village.

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