New York is famous—and to many, infamous—for rent regulations. As of 2014, New York City hosted about 27,000 rent-controlled apartments and 1,030,000 rent-stabilized apartments, for a total of more than 1.1 million rent-regulated apartments.

·  Rent-controlled apartments are those with a tenant (or lawful successor) who has been in residency since July 1, 1971.

·  Rent-stabilized apartments are in buildings with six or more units built between February 1, 1947 and January 1, 1974. Rent stabilization also applies to tenants of six-plus unit buildings built before February 1, 1947, if the tenant moved in after June 30, 1971.

· Rent-regulated units may also exist when the owner has been given tax advantages by a government body.

· Rent-regulated apartments are those subject to either rent control or rent stabilization.

The number of rent-controlled apartments in New York State has dropped precipitously over the decades, with an eventual downward trend to zero as lawful successors vacate rent-controlled properties. Rent stabilization will also decline as buildings age and are demolished, but in general, it remains far more prevalent than rent control. Landlords, therefore, are more likely to encounter issues with rent stabilization than rent control.

If you own a building subject to rent stabilization, you need dependable legal advice to ensure that your tenancies are lawful and profitable. Rely on attorneys with decades of experience. Ezratty, Ezratty and Levine has helped landlords navigate complex rent stabilization matters since 1992. We not only help landlords comply with the law, we also help solve complicated issues with tenants. Landlords can depend on our legal expertise.

Rights of Rent-Stabilized Tenants

In general, tenants of buildings subject to rent stabilization have the following rights:

· Lease agreements are renewable for one- or two-year terms, at the tenant’s option.

· Renewed lease agreements cannot require rent payments in excess of the standards given by the local Rent Guidelines Board.

· Rent-stabilized tenants may only be evicted for specific legal grounds.

· Landlords have obligations to perform certain maintenance and safety services to ensure the leased premises remain habitable. (The Division of Housing and Community Renewal has the authority to abate or reduce a tenant’s rent until the landlord performs any ordered services.)

· Family members of rent-stabilized tenants can establish succession rights to enjoy the original tenant’s rent stabilization protections.

Succession Rights of Family Members

To establish succession of an original tenant’s rent stabilization rights, a family member must live with the original tenant for two years before the original tenant permanently vacates the premises. This rule is reduced to one year when the original tenant is a senior citizen or suffers from a disability. Family members can also be entitled to a lease renewal if they resided with the original tenant at the inception of the tenancy, or at the beginning of the legal relationship.  Succession rights can be claimed three times by successor tenants.

In some cases, an unrelated tenant may establish succession rights if she can prove an “emotional and financial commitment” to the original tenant. A judge will examine factors such as the longevity of the relationship, the sharing of household expenses, intermingling of finances (such as joint banking accounts), engaging in family type activities, formalizing legal obligations to one another (such as through wills, trusts, etc.), and other behavior or agreements that evidence the parties’ intention to create a long and committed emotional relationship.

Grounds for Lawful Eviction of a Rent-Stabilized Tenant

New York law allows landlords the option to not renew the lease of a rent-stabilized tenant in very limited and specific situations. This can occur if the owner (or a member of the owner’s immediate family) needs the unit for use as a primary residence. A tenant who is not using the unit as a primary residence may also lose the right to renew the rent-stabilized lease. Finally, an owner can decline to renew a rent-regulated lease if the unit is being taken off the rental market altogether through demolition (or other purposes specified within the law).

Landlords who have legal grounds for not renewing a rent-stabilized lease must provide the tenant with legal notice. Within a specified time period, the tenant must be served with a Notice of Intent Not to Renew that states the legal grounds for the lack of renewal. This is known as a Golub Notice. In general, New York law is protective of a rent-stabilized tenant’s right to renew a lease. Landlords should proceed with non-renewals carefully, and ensure that they comply with all legal requirements.

How to Lawfully Present a Buyout Offer

In 2015, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed new ordinances to protect tenants from aggressive buyout offers. It is now unlawful for New York City landlords to: (1) make a buyout offer to a tenant who has explicitly refused a buyout offer during the past 180 days, (2) threaten a tenant, contact the tenant at odd hours, or provide a tenant with false information regarding a buyout offer, and (3) make a buyout offer without informing the tenant of the right to stay in the apartment, consult with an attorney, and decline future contact about the buyout offer for 180 days.

New York law is particularly sensitive to the mere appearance of landlords using strong-arm tactics to encourage rent-regulated tenants not to renew their leases. This makes it critical for landlords to handle buyout negotiations in an unpressured manner that strictly complies with the spirit of tenants’ rights laws. Hiring an experienced real estate attorney to manage your buyout negotiations will both ensure your compliance with the law and effectuate the buyout as quickly and easily as possible.

Protecting Landlord Rights and Meeting Landlord Responsibilities Under Rent Stabilization Laws

Rent stabilization regulations are complex—and can be overwhelming for landlords. By allowing an experienced attorney to advise you about rent stabilization matters, landlords can ensure they comply with the law and maintain profitable occupancies of their properties. Contact Ezratty, Ezratty and Levine today to learn how we can do this for you—either online or by calling (516) 747-5566.