The New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal is responsible for supervising, maintaining, and developing affordable housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. A large portion of the Division’s work focuses on protecting the rights of rent-regulated tenants (those living in properties subject to either rent control or rent stabilization laws). In response to 2011 legislation expanding rent regulations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo created the Tenant Protection Unit as a law enforcement office of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal. The Tenant Protection Unit is responsible for enforcing rent regulation laws against landlords.

Most owners of rent-regulated buildings are aware of how these regulations affect their ability to increase rent payments. However, rent regulations also affect a landlord’s ability to choose not to renew a tenant’s lease. Not only are the circumstances of non-renewal limited, but a landlord is also restricted in how he or she may present a rent-regulated tenant with a buyout offer. Furthermore, the relatives of a deceased rent-regulated tenant may also be vested with rights to renew a rent-regulated lease, known as succession rights.

The lease renewal provisions of rent regulation acts are complicated, and they can seriously impact a landlord’s ability to profit and manage his property. Let the skilled attorneys at Ezratty, Ezratty and Levine manage your renewal matters to ensure they are done correctly. Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of—and experience with—rent regulations. We help landlords comply with renewal laws, proactively identify renewal problems, and quickly resolve renewal disputes when they occur. Trust our experience so that you can rest assured in your compliance with rent regulations, and get back to the business of being a landlord.

Renewal Rights of Tenants of Rent-Regulated Properties

In general, rent-regulated tenants have the following renewal rights:

· Tenants are entitled to select a one- or two-year renewal. Rent-stabilized tenants must be offered a lease renewal at the rate set by the local Rent Guidelines Board.

· In New York City, an owner must send a tenant’s renewal offer by mail or personal delivery not more than 150 days—and no less than 90 days—before the current lease expires. Outside of New York City, owners must send a signed and dated renewal offer by certified mail not more than 120 days—and no less than 90 days—before the current lease expires.

· The tenant has 60 days to select a lease term and return the signed, renewed lease agreement to the owner. If the tenant fails to do so, the owner must initiate a holdover eviction action in the housing court if the tenant remains on the property past the expiration of the current lease.

·  Renewal lease agreements must keep the same terms and conditions of the original lease (unless a change is necessary to comply with a specific law or regulation).

Regulation of Lease Buyouts for Rent-Stabilized Tenants

New York state law is noticeably protective of a tenant’s right not to be bullied or strong-armed by a landlord—especially tenants who enjoy the protection of rent stabilization. In fact, New York City has enacted specific laws to regulate the manner in which a landlord may present a buyout offer to a rent-regulated tenant. It is possible for a landlord to negotiate a buyout of a rent-stabilized tenant’s lease, but it must be done carefully, and free from any undue pressure to the tenant. Landlords who wish to negotiate such a buyout are strongly advised to consult with an attorney who specializes in rent stabilization matters.

Situations in Which a Landlord May Lawfully Refuse to Renew a Rent-Regulated Lease

It is possible for a landlord to not renew a lease for a rent-regulated tenant. The landlord must have appropriate legal grounds for doing so. This can occur if the owner (or a member of the owner’s immediate family) needs the unit for use as a primary residence, or if the tenant is not using the unit as a primary residence. An owner can also decline to renew a rent-regulated lease if the unit is being taken off the rental market altogether (by being demolished, or for other purposes specified within the law).

When the landlord of a rent-regulated property is declining renewal for a specific legal reason, he must send the tenant a Notice of Intent Not to Renew. This notice must be received within the renewal notice timeline (between 150 and 90 days prior to the current lease expiration in New York City, and between 120 and 90 days outside of New York City). The notice must also specify the exact reason the lease is not being renewed.

Succession Rights of Family Members of Rent-Regulated Tenants

Even family members of rent-regulated tenants may have the legal right to renew the lease of a rent-regulated property. If a family member (as defined by law) lives with the primary tenant for two years, that family member may lawfully take over the rent-regulated lease when the primary tenant permanently quits the premises. (This requirement is reduced to one year when the primary tenant is disabled or a senior citizen.) All rent regulation protections enjoyed by the original tenant are then enforceable by the family member successor.

Renewal Done Right

At Ezratty, Ezratty and Levine, we are committed to helping landlords get the most of their investment properties and stay in compliance with the relevant law. Our lawyers will help you implement efficient renewal procedures and, when necessary, ensure that any nonrenewal notice is legally sufficient. We work with you, as partners, to ensure the best future for your properties. To schedule a consultation, contact us today—either online or by calling our office at (516) 747-5566.