Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tenant Rights in NYC: When You’re Asked to Move

Brooklynite Barbara Krasnoff was repainting her apartment when she received unwanted news from the owner of the three-story brownstone: “[She] came up to tell me that I shouldn’t continue because she was going to ask me to leave.”

Krasnoff “wasn’t completely surprised,” as she knew the owner wanted the apartment for her daughter and her new son-in-law. But it didn’t give Krasnoff much time to find a new home. She had “a little over a month” to leave.

New York City may be one of the most tenant-friendly cities in the country, but in one circumstance, such as Krasnoff’s, a property manager can easily remove a resident: Krasnoff didn’t have a lease. Well, she did, once. It was “a one-year lease; after the lease expired, we never bothered with it after that. My rent would go up slightly every couple of years,” Krasnoff said. This type of residency is known as a “month to month” lease, or tenancy at will. Krasnoff never consulted with a lawyer as to whether or not her property manager’s request was legal. But we did. Richard Jon Sobelsohn, real estate lawyer and adjunct professor law at, among others, Fordham University School of Law, said…it was.

Specifically, “The landlord has to give you whatever the period is as notice. So if you’re on a month-to-month lease, it’s thirty day’s notice.” A month-to-month lease is in fact one of the few ways a property manager can easily remove a renter from their apartment in New York City. That’s because it’s very, very difficult for a property manager to see you to the door permanently if you have an annual lease.

As Sobelsohn said, “Housing court is tenant centered,” which means the court system favors the rentor. Even if a resident does not pay rent for an extended period, a property manager cannot immediately evict. “A landlord has to give you notice, and you have some time to be able to make that payment. You can’t just terminate the lease and throw their belongings out. [The landlord has] to go to housing court and sue for eviction.”

According to the New York State Attorney’s Tenant’s Rights Guide, “A tenant with a lease is protected from eviction during the lease period [emphasis ours] so long as the tenant does not violate any substantial provision of the lease or any local housing laws or codes.” Sobelsohn said that one way for a property manager “to take possession of the property is to find out if there are any defaults that the tenant has under the lease.”

A default is a failure to meet the spelled-out obligations, which may include:
– Keeping noise levels down.
– Throwing trash in designated areas only.
– Not making alterations and improvements without permission.
And even then, it’s difficult for a property manager to evict.

Take Joyce G. For better access to water for her colon hydrotherapy business, her plumber added pipes for clean water and wastewater from her bathroom, through the kitchen, and into the living room wall.

“I didn’t have the money for a separate office. It was an economic motivation to have my office in my apartment.” But Joyce didn’t ask for permission from her property manager. “I knew I wasn’t commercially zoned. I knew I would be told no. So I did it low key.”

It took more than six years for her property manager to notice. When he did, he threatened to evict her. Joyce’s plumber removed the extra pipework. And then? Joyce said, “He couldn’t evict me. I had fixed the problem.” With her income stream disrupted, she left of her own accord.

Of course, most leases for new apartments are written for one- or two-year periods, so if a property manager wants you gone, they need only wait until the lease expires. But the most expedient way for a property manager to get a resident to vacate while the lease is in effect? A healthy payout.

If the unfortunate time comes, and you find yourself with an eviction on your record, here are a few things you can do to improve your chances of renting in the future!

The post Tenant Rights in NYC: When You’re Asked to Move appeared first on Apartment Living Blog.

from Apartment Living Blog https://www.forrent.com/blog/tips/tenant-rights-nyc/

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