CTRC Fact Sheet Index

TenantNet note: These Fact Sheets were published by CTRC in the mid-1990's. Some information will be out-of-date. As far as we know, there have been no updates to these fact sheets. While much of the information may still be valid, the reader should exercise caution.

CTRC Fact Sheets -- reproduced with permission.
================================================================

The Community Training Resource Center (CTRC) is a city-wide not-
for-profit organization that champions the rights of modest and
low-income tenants and promotes the preservation, improvement,
and expansion of affordable housing. CTRC provides training and
technical assistance for neighborhood housing groups, community
based organizations, legislative staffs and social service
providers.

CTRC produces fact sheets on tenants' rights, develops and
publishes research reports, and provides a written guide to New
York City government processes. CTRC advocates on budget policies
that affect housing and related services in low-income
neighborhoods. CTRC has led the campaign for the improvement and
expansion of the city's Housing Maintenance Code inspection and
enforcement services.
================================================================

CTRC Fact Sheet #100

LEASES AND LEASE RENEWALS FOR RENT REGULATED TENANTS

Rent regulated tenants have legal rights granted by state and
city laws and are also governed by legal provisions in their
leases. The contractual rights detailed in most standard leases
vary widely, but are usually weighted in the landlord's favor.
However, many such lease provisions contradict specific parts of
the tenant protection laws and, as such, these provisions
are almost always unenforceable against the tenant. On the other
hand, lease provisions that give tenants broader rights than
those in the tenant protection laws are enforceable.

Nevertheless, many rent regulated tenants, especially stabilized
tenants who have to sign leases and lease renewals believe,
mistakenly, that the lease, and not the Rent Stabilization Law or
Code, is the primary authority that defines the relationship with
their landlord. As a rule, tenants should first look to the
provisions of the rent regulatory laws, not their leases, for
protection.


Security of Tenure

The right to remain as a tenant in a regulated apartment is the
most fundamental right tenants have under the rent regulatory
laws. These laws also regulate rents and rent increases,
guarantee all required and essential services, and limit the
landlord's right of eviction to specific grounds. Some of these
grounds are:

     o    non-payment of rent

     o    nuisance, malicious destruction of property

     o    non-primary residence

     o    illegal subletting

     o    illegal or immoral use (drug sales, prostitution, etc.)

     o    tenant refusal to renew lease

     o    denying access to landlord for repairs or inspection

If one or more of these grounds exist, legal eviction can be
carried out with a court order. However, many of the grounds for
eviction listed are "curable", even after entry of a court order.
Within the 10-day period provided by law, the tenant may be able
to prevent an eviction by removing or curing the violation. This
applies to illegal subletting, and other breach-of-lease type
actions. (See list of related fact sheets for help on such
issues, especially those concerning Housing Court.)

In cooperative conversion "eviction" plans that are declared
effective, eviction of non-purchasers is permitted after a
specific period of time designated by law.


Unregulated Tenants

Security of tenure is very limited for tenants in unregulated
apartments. Where a current lease exists, and the landlord has no
other basis for evicting, the unregulated tenant has the right to
occupancy for the term of the lease. Beyond that, it is entirely
up to the landlord whether or not the lease is renewed or the
tenant can remain. If the tenant refuses to vacate after the
lease expires, the landlord must sue in Housing Court to evict.
The Court may give the tenant up to a six months stay of eviction
to find another apartment, but the tenant will eventually be
evicted. For the rights of unregulated tenants, see our fact
sheet, Unregulated Housing.


Regulated Tenants

Security of tenure is a right of both rent controlled and rent
stabilized tenants, providing they do not violate substantial
terms of the lease, refuse to renew, or ignore a renewal demand.

Under rent control, most landlords do not demand renewal leases
because rent adjustments are not tied to leases, but are
periodic, based on a formula in the law. Although most rent
controlled tenants initially signed a lease when they first
rented they do not get renewal leases, but are considered
"statutory" tenants, although the regulations would obligate them
to renew if the landlord demanded it.

The stabilized tenant must take care that once the landlord
properly offers a renewal lease (the process is explained below),
the tenant does not ignore the offer in a manner that can be
construed as a "refusal to renew", thereby providing grounds for
an eviction.

Most stabilized rent adjustments are directly linked to the
lease, or its renewal. Rent increase orders are set annually by
the Rent Guidelines Board (whose members are appointed by the
Mayor), effective from October 1 through September 30, for leases
that commence or renew during that period. The linking of rent
increases to lease expiration and renewal works to the
disadvantage of stabilized tenants because it gives the false
impression that the right to remain in an apartment depends on
having a current lease. Landlords often exploit this confusion,
by refusing to renew leases in order to intimidate stabilized
tenants into paying excessive rents, tolerating a lack of
services, or even giving up their apartments.


Vacancy Leases

Tenants' status as rent regulated or unregulated depends on the
type of building they live in and the date they moved in. For the
most part, a vacant apartment in a building of six or more units,
not recently constructed, that has not been converted to a co-op
or condo and is not federally regulated (as in NYCHA or Section 8
buildings) will be rent stabilized. When a new tenant moves into
such an apartment, the tenant signs what is called a "vacancy
lease". Usually, the tenant is in no position to dictate any
terms of the lease. The only issue to negotiate is whether the
prospective tenant gets the apartment or not, on the day the
lease starts, and in some state of habitability.

Even if the landlord has not delivered an executed (signed) copy
of the lease, the tenant can take occupancy without it. The
tenant has the right to remain because the landlord is aware that
the tenant has moved in, and has accepted rent, establishing
tenancy. The tenant now has "rent-stabilized" status and can
force the landlord to deliver an executed lease, if it is not
forthcoming, by filing a complaint with the New York State
Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR Form RA-90).


Rent Control

Since rent controlled tenants rarely sign any other lease after
the initial one, the provisions of that lease remain in effect
beyond the lease term. Such provisions may not violate the Rent
Control Laws, but may grant broader rights, i.e., subletting
rights.

Rent controlled apartments that became vacant after June 30,
1971, were deregulated by the Vacancy Decontrol Law passed by the
State Legislature that year. On July 1, 1974, however, most of
these formerly controlled apartments became re-regulated, but as
stabilized apartments, under a new law, the Emergency Tenant
Protection Act. Under this Act, whenever a rent controlled
apartment is vacated and re-rented (in a building with at least
six units that has not been converted to a co-op or condo), it
enters the rent stabilization system. Vacancies of regulated
apartments in coop or condo-converted buildings, unfortunately,
result in the apartments becoming permanently deregulated.


Rent Stabilization

The vacancy lease to a rent stabilized apartment is usually a
detailed lease form and can be found in a legal stationary store.
This lease will not inform tenants of any of the rights that are
granted to them under the rent stabilization law. Some of these
legal rights are:

     o    To pay no higher than the legally determined rent

     o    The right to choose a one- or two-year lease term

     o    Time to read and get advice regarding the terms of the
          offered lease

     o    Payment of no more than one month's rent in security
          deposit

     o    Right to a copy of the executed vacancy lease

     o    Right to sublet, even if prohibited in the lease

     o    To have building services maintained

Many of the rights and duties of both landlords and tenants are
found in the "Rent Stabilization Lease Rider For Apartment House
Tenants Residing in New York City" a rider that must be attached
to all vacancy and renewal leases, which commence on or after
December 1, 1987. This rider, when attached to a vacancy lease,
should contain a rent history that will assist the tenant in
determining the legal rent. Mostly the riders are not attached,
in violation of the law. A prospective tenant who asks for the
Stabilization Rider or asserts any of these rights, or even
demonstrates knowledge of them prior to moving in, stands a good
chance of being rejected by the landlord. However, once the new
tenant has moved in, he or she can exercise rent stabilization
rights, even if the lease waives those rights. Agreements to
waive rent stabilization rights are unenforceable.


Renewal Leases -- Rent Stabilization

Stabilized tenants have the same right to choose the length of
their lease term at renewal that they have when signing a vacancy
lease. Because the tenant is in occupancy at renewal time and has
the right to remain, the tenant's choice of a one- or two-year
lease is usually respected (the three-year term option was
deleted by law effective October 1,1983).

In New York City, all landlords must now use the standardized
DHCR Renewal Lease Form RTP-8, no other form of lease renewal may
be used. This form is of benefit to tenants because it contains
exact information about the renewal process, including a step-by-
step rent adjustment calculation. A Spanish version of the form
must be supplied by the landlord if requested by the tenant.


Timely Renewal

Timely renewal of the lease can occur only when the stabilized
tenant receives notice of renewal options on the required Form
RTP-8 not more than 150 days and not less than 120 days before
the expiration of the current lease term. This period, between
the fifth and fourth month is called the "window period". If the
notice is received within this period, it is a timely offer, and
renewal of the lease should also follow on time. Two, dated,
completed copies of RTP-8 must be mailed or delivered personally
by the landlord.

Tenants have 60 days to respond by choosing a lease term and
returning both copies, signed. This 60-day period affords the
tenant time to examine the form, show it to an advisor, and check
the calculations. The Code does not permit the tenant to alter
the form in any way. If there are errors, the forms should be
returned to the landlord (after a copy is made) with a cover
letter describing the inaccuracies.

The 60-day period does not start until the landlord has delivered
a proper RTP-8 to the tenant. If and when the forms are proper,
both copies should be signed (a third copy is kept as proof of
renewal), and returned to the landlord. Be warned that it is
necessary to respond within the 60-day period to a lease renewal
offer; failure to do so may subject the tenant to an eviction
proceeding. The landlord must then return one copy of the fully
executed (signed) RTP-8 within 30 days after receipt of the
tenant's signed copies. The tenant should use certified mail,
return receipt requested. This is a strategy and not a
requirement, but advisable because landlords sometimes claim
failure or refusal by the tenant to renew as an invented grounds
for eviction in Housing Court.


Untimely Renewal

Untimely renewal means that the landlord has violated the 150- to
120-day notice requirement. Assuming that the landlord's offer is
on Form RTP-8, and that the form is otherwise properly filled in
and calculated, the Code has a specific formula for protecting
the tenant. The tenant still has 60 days to respond but, when
renewal is offered late, two other factors come into play: the
date the new lease term commences and the date the rent increase
begins.

The new lease term may commence either on the date it would have
started had the landlord made a timely offer, or it may start as
of the first rent payment date (usually the first of the month)
at least 120 days after the renewal actually was offered. The
tenant has the sole right to choose between these two dates.
The rent increase begins on the new date the tenant chooses as
the start of the lease term, or on the first rent payment date
that is at least 120 days after the renewal offer. Another
feature: the landlord is prohibited from collecting a guideline
increase that is higher if the late offer pushes the rent
increase or lease term into a guideline period that has higher
percentages.


Failure to Deliver An Executed Lease

If the landlord does not return to the tenant a fully executed
lease 30 days after receipt of the tenant's signed renewal offer:

     o    the landlord is barred from any court action against
          the tenant based on refusal to renew

     o    the tenant is not deprived of any rights under the Rent
          Stabilization Code

     o    the tenant may file a complaint with the DHCR on Form
          RA-90, Owner's Failure To Renew or Furnish a copy of a
          Signed Lease

     o    the lease is not in effect, and the rent increase need
          not be paid.


Rent Stabilization Lease Rider

The landlord must also provide the tenant a copy of the Rider
attached to the RTP-8 as indicated above. It must be delivered to
the tenant with the renewal offer and, if requested, the form
must be supplied in Spanish. If the landlord fails to attach the
rider, the tenant may file a Form RA-90 complaint with the DHCR.
The agency will order the landlord to serve the new lease rider
on the tenant. If this is not done within 20 days of the DHCR
order, the rent increase will be denied until the landlord
complies with the order.


Other Riders

The Code allows the landlord to add certain riders to any renewal
lease. These riders are limited to those that:

     o    follow from a judicial decision

     o    allow the rent to be increased if the Rent Guidelines
          Board guidelines affecting the lease have not yet been
          set at the time the renewal is offered

     o    allow the rent to be increased during the lease upon an
          order of the DHCR, (MCI's)

     o    allow the rent to be increased during the lease based
          on a DHCR-ordered hardship rent decision

     o    allow the lease to be renewable for only a three year
          period after a building's coop conversion in an
          eviction plan has been declared effective

     o    allow escalation based upon Sections 421-a and 423 of
          the Real Property Tax Law

     o    notify the tenant of the landlord's duties to provide
          window guards

The Code provides that leases be renewed with the same terms in
the expiring lease, and that the landlord is prohibited from
inserting clauses that are more restrictive, except for the above
riders. Usually, the first lease sets the guidelines in these
circumstances, and restrictive clauses added to a renewal lease
are unenforceable and may be ignored by the tenant.


Occupants

DHCR has a form, to be used by the tenant or the landlord, to
inform the landlord of all current occupants of the tenant's
apartment. The purpose of the form is to establish succession
rights for qualified family members (traditional and non-
traditional), residing with the tenant(s) named on the lease. If
one of those family members wishes to succeed to the apartment if
the named tenant dies or moves out, it may be advisable to submit
this form to the landlord.

If an apartment is shared with non-related persons, the law
provides that they must be identified to the landlord upon his
request, but only during the lease renewal period or window
period of 150-120 days prior to the lease expiration. Failure to
do so carries no penalties.

Landlords' requests for personal information such as social
security numbers, tax returns, credit reports, etc., are not
enforceable. Tenants already in occupancy may ignore such
requests, but prospective tenants of a vacant apartment might opt
to disclose the requested information if they want to be
approved.

The Rent Stabilization Code allows a tenant named on a lease to
add the name of his or her spouse to the lease at any time by
simply notifying the landlord in writing of the fact of the
marriage. The landlord may not refuse, the notice having the
effect of amending the lease to include the spouse; if there is a
request for a marriage certificate, compliance is suggested if it
will end the matter. The added spouse must, however, make the
apartment his or her primary residence (live there the majority
of the year and list it as his or her legal address for federal,
state and local taxes, voting, bank accounts, drivers license,
etc.).


Security deposits

Security deposits are limited to the amount of one month's
initial rent and must be kept in separate interest bearing
accounts with such interest (less 1%) payable to the tenant. If
the rent is legally increased, the security deposit may be
increased to equal the new rent. See our separate fact sheet,
Rent Security Deposits.

                               ###

================================================================
These article are Copyright 1995 and 1996 by Community Training Resource
Center (CTRC) and reproduced by TenantNet. They may be freely
redistributed in their entirety provided they are reproduced exactly
as in the originals, including this copyright notice, the opening and
closing informational banners and any references to either CTRC
or TenantNet must be included.

These article are provided as is without any express or implied
warranty. While any information in these article is believed to be
correct at the time of writing, these articles are for educational
purposes only and do not purport to provide legal advice. If
you require legal advice, you should consult with a legal
practitioner licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

Community Training Resource Center                (212)964-7200
47 Ann Street
New York, NY 10038

================================================================
TenantNet - the online resource for residential tenants

TenantNet is not an apartment referral service or brokerage,
is not associated with any government agency, political party
or ideology. The information is believed to be accurate and is
for informational purposes only. TenantNet cannot act as
attorneys and makes no representations, expressed or implied,
that the information can or will be used or interpreted in any
particular way by any governmental agency or court.
================================================================

TenantNet Home | TenantNet Forum | New York Tenant Information
DHCR Information | DHCR Decisions | Housing Court Decisions | New York Rent Laws
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us

Subscribe to our Mailing List!
Your Email      Full Name