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Definition of "Tenant" in Real Property Law 235-f

Posted by Mark Smith on September 22, 1999 at 13:52:48:

In Reply to: Roommates: the real deal posted by Anna on September 22, 1999 at 09:42:12:

We should all thank Anna for posting the full text of the Appellate Division, First Department, decision in Capital Holding Company v. Rena Stavrolakes. It looks as if she typed the entire decision. Some others who post to this forum seem to have access to various court decisions on CD-ROM, and it would have been helpful if they had copied and pasted this decision, saving Anna a lot of typing.

But I think Anna is making too much of the word "specified" in Real Property Law 235-f(4). RPL 235-f(1) gives the following definitions:

(a) "Tenant" means a person occupying or entitled to occupy a residential rental premises who is either a party to the lease or rental agreement for such premises or is a statutory tenant pursuant to the emergency housing rent control law or the city rent and rehabilitation law or article seven-c of the multiple dwelling law.
(b) "Occupant" means a person, other than a tenant or a member of a tenant's immediate family, occupying a premises with the consent of the tenant or tenants.

Thus, tenant is defined in the law as a party to the lease, i.e, named in the lease.

Anna wrote:

: The 'law' for roommates when two or more tenants sign the lease is still fuzzy: someone will have to lose a case and take appeals to clarify the language of RPL 235-f (which is what Stavrolakes did). Most people ignore the words "the NUMBER of tenants SPECIFIED in the lease" in 235-f(4), replacing them in their minds with "the number of tenants NAMED in the lease". This is an absurd interpretation: think about this: family with 2 kids moves into 'classic six' (2 beds, living, dining, kitchen, AND 'maid's room' with its own bath). If husband only signs lease: they can fill the maid's room with a maid or nanny/au pair or boarder, but if both husband and wife sign the lease, they can get evicted for having a nanny? Absurd.

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