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Building for Sale: What are my best options?

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Building for Sale: What are my best options?

Postby anza808 » Sun Sep 27, 2015 9:26 pm

Greetings TenantNet Community,

My wife and I moved into a new apartment on April 1, 2015. The building has 11 units, 4 of which are free market (mine included) and the rest are rent stabilized. It has been family owned (LLC) for 100+ years.

The unit we're in was owner-occupied the entire time - we are the first ever renters. We received a bunch of paperwork after moving in from the landlord's law firm stating that the apartment was legitimately deregulated. I trusted that to be true, but did wonder if there are any potential loopholes there.

Anyway, on to the bigger issue! A random web search led me to upsetting news this weekend: it appears the building is for sale. I'm trying to understand what this means for us. We love this apartment and would be heartbroken to leave after just a year.

-What is the worst case scenario?
-Is there anything we can do to protect ourselves?
-Would it be worth approaching the owners preemptively to try and secure an extended lease before a sale is completed?

I've re-read our lease and see very little information regarding sale to a new owner. There is a clause regarding demolition of the building under new ownership (we'd be given 6 months notice), but otherwise I can't find anything.

I'd really appreciate any thoughts or opinions. Thanks very much for reading!
anza808
 
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Re: Building for Sale: What are my best options?

Postby TenantNet » Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:33 am

My initial reacion is that you need to investigate if the unit was legally deregulated. Many are not. First get a rent history from DHCR going back to 1984. Do this quietly so the LL won't get upset. Ask your neighbors about the old tenants, if the place was renovated and how.

Even if owner occupied, it's still good to get a rent history. If the building is 100+ years old as you suggest, I have a strong feeling the unit was occupied by the owner for that 100+ years. Unlikely.

In many cases, owner occupancy can lead to a permanent exemption from rent regulation, but there have been exceptions. Also, perhaps semantics, if permanently exempted, then there was no reason to deregulate ... it would have already been unregulated.

There are possible loopholes and it's good to investigate, but take it one step at a time. First step get a history. Second step, talk with the neighbors. See if what they report matches what the LL is telling you.

Curious, why would the LL's law firm send you paperwork? Why would you be hearing from the LL's lawer at all? Had you filed a complaint already? Did something else happen that got the lawyers involved?

And what is the nature of the paperwork? A letter, or forms, or what?

As for a sale, it happens all the time. If you have a lease, nothing can happen to you until the end of the lease, even if you are not regulated. Of course a new landlord might have ideas and might not offer you a lease renewal.

Filing a case with DHCR might be able to create some protection while the case is pending, but that's not always a guarantee. Also, if you file, you should have some evidence to back up a claim the unit was not legally deregulated. In other words, don't just file for the hell of it.

If you can get a longer lease, then that would be good. But again, don't let him know you're snooping around.
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Re: Building for Sale: What are my best options?

Postby anza808 » Mon Sep 28, 2015 7:56 am

Thanks very much for the quick reply. I dug up the forms to take another look and misspoke slightly.

The form we received is a "Notice of Apartment Deregulation Pursuant to High Rent Vacancy." We did not file anything - this came unsolicited via certified mail shortly after we moved in.

However the form itself states that the unit was exempt/owner occupied. The response to everything on the first page is "N/A". The second page details some improvements/renovations to the apartment, totaling less than $10K.

From what I understand the unit really has been in the family for a very long time, I have no reason to doubt that. Let me know if anything sounds strange, otherwise it seems trying to lock in a longer lease is my best bet. Thanks!
anza808
 
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Re: Building for Sale: What are my best options?

Postby TenantNet » Mon Sep 28, 2015 9:58 am

The form you cite is located at http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/RentCodeAmen ... D-N-SJ.pdf

Read the instructions carefully.

The form is used when the unit was previously regulated, but has been deregulated due to a high-rent vacancy. As far as I know, it is not supposed to be used when the unit was owner-occupied and therefore exempt.

However in the strange world of DHCR, anything can happen.

That's why it's so important to get the rent history and speak to the neighbors to find what really happened.

Everything sounds strange here.

Another thing to look at is who in the family actually lived in the unit. Might it have been a relative and not the owner him/her self?

And there is a case to watch that is still under appeal. See http://tenant.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php? ... man#p52140
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