Nadel & Ciarlo, P.C.

New York apartment buyouts spark disputes


Rent-stabilized apartments have been a fixture of New York City residential real estate for decades. But as property values continue to increase, building owners have been offering inducements to long-term tenants to move out so they can rent the property to someone who can pay more. Advocates for renters, however, say that the tactics of some landlords constitute harassment and in some cases have crossed the line into illegality.

Under New York law, if a rent-controlled apartment is vacated and can be re-rented for $2,500 a month or more, it is no longer subject to rent control laws. To take advantage of the market, some landlords have been offering tenants buyouts of as much as $100,000 to move out.

But when tenants refuse the offers, some landlords have allegedly resorted to illegal methods, including interrupting essential services. In one case, a long-term tenant alleged that after she and her husband turned down a buyout offer, they were told they had 18 days to move out or they would receive a notice of eviction.

Tenants of rent-controlled apartments have substantial legal protections. They are allowed to renew their leases and they cannot be evicted except for reasons specifically enumerated in the law. Landlords, on the other hand, have the right to evict tenants who violate the lease or illegally sublet their apartments.

New York's rent stabilization system is a complex area of law. Disputes can require dealing not only with the Housing Court, but with multiple state agencies as well. Landlords or tenants of rent-stabilized properties can benefit from getting sound advice as to their legal rights in this area.

Source: New York Times, "As New York Landlords Push Buyouts, Renters Resist," Mireya Navarro, July 9, 2014

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