New York City's rent control and rent stabilization laws are arcane and complex. One question many people have relates to family members' rights to succession in a rent controlled or rent stabilized apartment.
In general, a family member can succeed to the apartment after a tenant dies or permanently moves out, as long as the succeeding family member lived in the apartment as their primary residence for the two-year period preceding the departure of the tenant. This time period is lowered to one year if the succeeding family member is disabled or a senior citizen.
The first family member to succeed to the apartment does not have to pay a vacancy increase to the landlord. When that first succeeding family member dies or moves out, the next family member will have to pay a vacancy increase. The next valid successor after that would not have to pay the vacancy increase, because they are considered a first successor after the tenant who paid the increase.
Qualifying family members include spouses, siblings, parents, children, step-parents, step-children, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law, and children-in-law. The definition also includes other individuals who lived in the apartment for the required period and were in a close financial and emotional relationship with the tenant. The New York City Rent Guidelines Board lists a number of factors that are looked at in determining whether a relationship qualifies.
Once succession rights are established, the succeeding tenant in a rent controlled residential property is protected from eviction. In a rent stabilized apartment, the successor is entitled to renew the lease on a rent stabilized basis.
Since this area of law can be inundated with legal complexities, it may be best to obtain legal help when trying to answer legal questions. An experienced attorney will be able to provide answers that are specific to an individual's unique situation, leaving him or her in a solid position to make fully informed decisions in his or her best interest.
Source: New York City Rent Guidelines Board, "Fact Sheet #30: Succession Rights," accessed July 28, 2014