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New York City Landlord-Tenant Law Blog

HMGDJ wins big for tenants living with inadequate fire safety protections

Laws change. Building/housing codes change. Apartments get renovated. These things are all a matter of life in New York City, but how they intersect matters – especially for the tenants.

Take for example a recent consolidated case, argued and won by our own Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph LLP attorney, Jesse Gribben. Due to his efforts, an entire building of tenants will not be required to pay rent until their landlord obtains a valid certificate of occupancy.

Certificate of Occupancy ("C of O")

We represent a Tenant Association who organized a rent strike in an effort to compel the landlord to correct pervasive housing code violations. Upon investigation, the tenants discovered that their building had been altered since the last Certificate of Occupancy ("C of O"), from 1970, had been issued. More specifically, the 1970 C of O listed 53 apartments while the building currently has 60 apartments. When a landlord, absent requisite approval, as is the case here, alters a building they must have their building comply with the Building Code currently in effect. While in 1970 two independent means of egress from every apartment was not required, now it is. Here, the majority of apartments lack a mandated secondary means of egress which is a violation of applicable fire safety law and code. The NYC Dept. of Buildings has required the continual presence of fire guards as a condition of continued occupancy.

First NYC apartment? Learn how to make the process smoother.

Looking for your first apartment in New York? You probably have many questions and possibly some apprehension as you begin your search. There are ways, however, to make the search a little easier.

It helps to understand the types of issues you may be facing in your apartment search. Below are some of the problems and questions first-time renters have.

The most common reason for eviction from rent-stabilized units

In a real estate market where the need for affordable housing is great and rents continue to rise, rent-stabilized apartments provide relief to many New York tenants. These apartments cut down on yearly rent hikes and provide increased eviction protections. However, a rent-stabilized tenant’s protection from eviction is not absolute, especially if tenants are not using the apartment as their primary residence.

“You can be evicted, but the grounds for eviction are limited under rent-stabilization,” stated Sam Himmelstein, a tenants’ rights attorney with Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph LLP.

Leyes sobre el pago del alquiler en Nueva York

Actualmente la ciudad de Nueva York tiene una población estimada de 8,5 millones de habitantes, de los cuales casi 2 millones de personas son de descendencia hispana. Muchos de ellos alquilan apartamentos y casas en varios suburbios alrededor de esta gran metrópolis.

Es importante conocer las diferentes leyes que protegen tanto al dueño del inmueble que rentamos como a los inquilinos del mismo y saber cuándo una situación amerita ayuda legal inmediata.

What happens if your rent-stabilized building is sold?

If you are a renter with stabilized rent, the prospect of the building being sold to a new landlord can be unnerving. Rent stabilization is meant to protect renters, but that doesn’t mean the new owners won’t look for ways to skirt the rules.

Luckily, there are signs to watch out for and ways to protect yourself as a tenant.

Rising rents mean older renters need guarantors

There’s no doubt New York is an expensive city. We’ve all heard of young renters working hard and struggling to make ends meet, but it turns out these struggles aren’t limited to people in their 20s. It’s becoming common for people in their 30s or 40s to need guarantors to sign a lease.

A guarantor is someone who is responsible for a lease if the renter cannot pay. Given the high rental prices in New York, many people relocating or moving within the city are unable to meet the stringent requirements of landlords. In this case, the renter can use a guarantor to make up for falling short of the landlord’s requirements.

In which neighborhoods is displacement the biggest threat?

Affordability is one of the biggest issues facing renters in New York. No matter your economic situation, finding affordable housing can be a challenge with rising rents leading to displacement across the city.

The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) tracks displacement across New York and offers resources for determining how it may affect your neighborhood.

There’s hope for commercial tenants served with notice to cure

Is your landlord threatening to terminate your commercial lease? You may be able to get a Yellowstone injunction to give you time to cure the alleged breach of the lease, or to defend the case without risking eviction if you lose.

When a commercial tenant receives a notice to cure, the tenant must take action before the notice expires. If the tenant does not and permits the notice to cure to expire, then the landlord may serve a termination notice and commence a holdover (eviction) proceeding in Civil Court. In such a case if the landlord establishes a breach of the lease, then the tenant will not be provided an opportunity to cure, and will be evicted. This is because the law that allows for a post-judgment cure only applies to residential leases. In such a commercial eviction proceeding predicated upon a breach of lease, the tenant’s defenses are limited to proving that there was no breach of the lease.  

Attention to legal detail protects apartment succession rights

Rent-stabilized, rent-controlled and Mitchell-Lama apartments are a valuable commodity in New York City. For many families, a unit may represent their greatest asset. State and city laws recognize that value by establishing rules that allow these residences to be transferred to others without the loss of rent protection or increasing the risk of eviction. But succession rights are not automatic. Protecting them requires understanding the laws, exercising care in following them and acting quickly after the original tenant vacates.

Time is of the essence for succession