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Coo-ops and Condos

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Disclaimer: By providing answers to frequently asked questions, the staff of the Rent Guidelines Board attempts to clarify the often complex programs and regulations governing landlord-tenant relations in NYC. However, the information provided herein does not represent official policies or opinions of the City of New York or the Rent Guidelines Board nor should this information be used to substitute for advice of legal counsel.

In addition: The NYS Homes and Community Renewal's Office of Rent Administration (DHCR) also offers useful information on their own FAQ page as well as on their Forms and Information by Topic page.

• NYC.gov has a Buildings and Property FAQ that may provide useful answers.

• The New York Times regularly answers questions from rent stabilized tenants about various housing issues in their Ask Real Estate column.


If a stabilized tenant leaves a co-op, is that unit no longer stabilized?

Yes. An apartment in a co-op building that experienced a vacancy after conversion is generally no longer subject to rent stabilization. If you are a rent-stabilized tenant who has occupied the unit when the building was converted to co-op, then the only way the unit remains under stabilization is if you stay as a tenant. Once you leave, the holder of unsold shares can sell the unit or charge a market rent to the next tenant.

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If I buy a condo or a house, will it invalidate my stabilized lease?

You can buy a condo or home, so long as you rent it out or use it only for seasonal use. If the rent stabilized apartment is your primary residence, you remain protected under the law. The landlord may, however, question your primary residence and refuse to renew your lease. If you are taken to court and fail to prove that you have an ongoing physical nexus with the apartment as your primary residence, you could lose the apartment. One factor the court will consider is whether you spend at least 183 days in the apartment each year. The court may also look at tax filings, voter registration, drivers license and other indicators of primary residence. No one factor is dispositive. For example, musicians, actors and diplomats often travel extensively and may, in some years, be "home" only a few months. Further, some people keep their cars at seasonal residences to avoid the expense of parking and insurance in the City. If you fail to show that the apartment is truly your primary residence you may face eviction. Also see our FAQ section on Primary Residence.

It is important to note that most leases have attorney's fees clauses. If you fail to prove your case, the landlord may be entitled to impose his or her attorneys fees on you. Reciprocally, if you prevail and your lease has an attorneys fees clause, by operation of law, you may be entitled to have the landlord pay your legal costs.

We strongly advise that you consult with a private attorney before making such an investment. Legal affordable assistance is discussed elsewhere on our site. You may want to contact one of the following tenant groups who can also advise you on finding an attorney if necessary.

  • M.E.T. Council (212) 979-6238
  • NYS Tenant and Neighbors Coalition (212) 608-4320

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I am a rent stabilized tenant in a building that has been converted to a co-op. The Board is seeking to evict me by claiming that the apartment is not my primary residence. What can I do?

First, non-primary residence is not a ground for your immediate eviction. It is a ground for non-renewal of your lease. Under the current law, the landlord must write to you between 90 and 150 days before your lease expires of his or her intention not to renew. Once the proper notice is given and the lease expires, the landlord may then proceed with an eviction.

The question is whether or not you have maintained an ongoing "physical nexus" with the premises. We suggest that you collect proof that your primary residence is just that - - your primary residence. This can include copies of your taxes, car registration, voter registration, all showing the primary residence as your address of record. Even ATM withdrawals, bank statements and bills can be used as proof. It is likely that the matter will come to Housing Court, and you will have to provide evidence that your apartment is your primary residence.

According to the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), the state agency that administers the rent laws, the concept of primary residence is based on a preponderance of evidence. There is no strict number of days per year that a stabilized tenant is required to live in his/her primary residence, although the DHCR has established 183 days as a guideline. Also, the burden of proof is on the owner, but beware, many of the items listed above are public information and are easily accessed by your landlord. Moreover, your landlord will most likely seek and be granted discovery rights in Housing Court. That means you may be required to answer questions under oath and produce documents as demanded.

As noted in response to the previous question, most leases have attorneys fees clauses. If you have such a clause in your lease and you fail to prove your case, the landlord may be entitled to collect his or her attorneys fees from you. Reciprocally, if you prevail and your lease has an attorneys fees clause, by operation of law, you may be entitled to have the landlord pay your legal costs.
Primary residence cases are complex matters and you are strongly advised to consult with an attorney. You may want to contact one of the following tenant groups who can also advise you on finding an attorney if necessary.

  • M.E.T. Council (212) 979-6238
  • NYS Tenant and Neighborhood Coalition (212) 608-4320

Also, visit our website for more information on attorneys and Housing Court. Also see our FAQ section on Primary Residence questions.

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I'm a stabilized renter in a co-op. How enforceable are the new house rules set by the co-op board?

The rights and obligations of rent stabilized tenants are set forth in the law and their respective leases. Such leases must be renewed on the same terms and conditions as expiring leases. Consequently, co-ops may not impose substantial new obligations or restrictions on rent stabilized tenants. We advise, however, that tenants should cooperate and abide by reasonable house rules. House rules which regulate such things as noise, elevator use for moving, pet care and so on generally benefit all. Moreover, they usually cover many of the same areas as leases - which are generally enforceable by the co-op board.

If the co-op substantially restricts or changes building services , this may constitute a decrease of services. Such changes may be challenged before the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal which administers the rent laws.

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My rent stabilized building converted to co-ops under a non-eviction plan. Does this mean I can keep my apartment indefinitely?

Yes, according to the NYS Attorney General's office, under an non-eviction conversion plan an outside purchaser of an occupied apartment may not evict you. You may continue in occupancy as a rent-stabilized or rent-controlled tenant, paying rent to the outside purchaser or the sponsor, who must provide all the services required under applicable laws.

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My rent stabilized building converted to co-ops under an eviction plan. How long do I have to find a new apartment?

According to the NYS Attorney General's office, under an approved eviction conversion plan non-purchasing tenants may not be evicted for a minimum of three years from the date an eviction plan is declared effective. Eligible senior citizen and disabled tenants may not be evicted at any time unless they breach their leases. Rent-stabilized tenants whose leases expire less than three years after the date the plan is declared effective are entitled to renewals, subject to rent increases authorized by the Rent Stabilization Law, extending the lease to the end of the full three-year period. Rent-stabilized tenants whose leases already extend beyond three-year period may not be evicted until their leases expire.


Disclaimer: By providing answers to frequently asked questions, the staff of the Rent Guidelines Board attempts to clarify the often complex programs and regulations governing landlord-tenant relations in NYC. However, the information provided herein does not represent official policies or opinions of the City of New York or the Rent Guidelines Board nor should this information be used to substitute for advice of legal counsel.

In addition: The NYS Homes and Community Renewal's Office of Rent Administration (DHCR) also offers useful information on their own FAQ page as well as on their Forms and Information by Topic page.

• NYC.gov has a Buildings and Property FAQ that may provide useful answers.

• The New York Times regularly answers questions from rent stabilized tenants about various housing issues in their Ask Real Estate column.

 

RGB Page Updated 9/27/2016

 


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