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Posted by JAM on May 15, 2001 at 22:14:17:

I am the lease holder of a rent stablized one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.

Today, I received a notice from the landlord that my lease will not be renewed because the apartment has not been my primary residence for the past five years. The landlord is correct that the apartment has not been my primary residence for the past five years. I currently live in Los Angeles. I have been sharing the apartment and splitting the rent with another individual.

However, I have been severely disabled with treatment-resistant mental illness since 1995. I have been officially disabled under the rules of social security since 1996 or 1997. I have been unable to work or travel. This is the reason I have not returned to the Brooklyn apartment.

I do not necessarily plan to try to keep the apartment; the person I share it with and I are prepared to give it up. It depends on what our options are. I do have tons of cherished possessions there that go back to my childhood, and no place to move everything to. I need to avoid having to go to court because I am too sick. Does my disability give me any rights? What are the chances of the landlord suing me? Does anyone have any suggestions?

I am unclear from the notice that I received whether I have to vacate the apartment by the lease expiration (about four months from now) or in 30 days. Can they force me to vacate it in 30 days? I hope that I have at least four months to work this out.

The ideal would be to pass the lease to the person I have been sharing the apartment with. Do you think I should ask the landlord if he is willing to do that? The trouble is, he spends most of his time with his girlfriend in Manhattan, so the landlord might be able to prove that it is not his primary residence either.

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