A New York man has filed a lawsuit claiming that landlords in the city routinely violate a law protecting elderly and disabled tenants when a building is converted to luxury condos. According to the lawsuit, that law requires landlords to provide disabled renters and those over age 62 the option to stay on in their apartments after a conversion. The lawsuit requests class action status and seeks $100 million in damages.
The lawsuit comes as the number of rent-stabilized and rent-controlled apartments is decreasing in the city. Many tenants no longer have the protection of rent regulation, and are finding their leases are not renewed when the building is converted.
Landlords have argued that the law protecting seniors and the disabled applies only when the building is converted by means of an eviction plan, in which 51 percent or more of the tenants opt to purchase their units. The landlords argue that the law does not apply in conversions made pursuant to non-eviction plans, which require that only 15 percent of units be sold to current tenants or purchasers who intend to live in the unit.
Condo and co-op conversions in New York are regulated by the Real Estate Finance Bureau of the Attorney General's Office. Recently the Attorney General's Office issued emergency regulations which require landlords to notify disabled and senior tenants of their right to stay in their units without being subjected to soaring rents.
New York law governing rent regulation and the conversion of residential property to condominiums or co-ops is extremely complex. Landlords seeking to convert a building need to be sure they are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
Source: businessinsider.com, "Lawsuit: NYC landlords pushing out seniors, disabled," Jake Pearson, Dec. 2, 2015