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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.

In an attempt to maximize profits, a new landlord may look for a way to force rent-stabilized tenants out. Some of the tactics they may take include:

  • Monitoring tenants to find out if they are living in their apartment for the 183 days per year required by law
  • Cracking down on subletting
  • Starting construction projects that become a nuisance and force tenants to move or increase the value of vacant apartments beyond the rent-stabilization threshold
  • Conducting “inspections” to see if a tenant’s apartment is cluttered, if they have done alterations, are running a business out of their apartment or discover other potential lease violations

Ways to protect yourself

HMGDJ attorney Sam Himmelstein has this to say about potential landlord tactics:

“They may install cameras in hallways looking for evidence that a tenant’s apartment is not their primary residence, or that they are renting out their apartment on Airbnb. They may be looking to evict people if they find vulnerabilities. And they will often serve legal notices and file eviction cases based on the flimsiest evidence, in situations where their claims have no merit, in order to frighten tenants into moving out.”

It is important to be proactive to protect yourself. Some ways for tenants to preempt a landlord from employing unfair tactics include:

  • Learn about rent-stabilization and avoid any violations that may lead to eviction.
  • Form a tenants’ association, which allows you to voice concerns and dispute issues such as rent increases, tenant harassment or building neglect.

Even if a landlord’s actions are illegal, it can be expensive and cumbersome to defend yourself. Knowing your rights and taking preemptive steps are your best safeguards to maintain stabilized rent.

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