Landlord Tenant Law – Inherited Problem Tenants
Clients who purchase apartment buildings in New York, very often are unfamiliar or unaware and unprepared for the complexities involved in removing tenants who are problematic. There is a whole body of law that applies to buildings that have six or more units and in New York they are called rent stabilized apartments, I’m sure you have heard of that. Rent stabilized apartments are governed by the rent stabilization code of New York and there are rent stabilization laws and rules as well and they dictate what the rights of a tenant and what are the rights of the landlords and you’re prescribed from doing anything that is not within those laws and regulations. In an apartment building or house that is six or more units, clients will come to me and say “I’m not happy with this tenant because they have put into occupancy a bunch of other people and I did not rent to them and now the apartment have like six people in it when originally it was supposed to have two or three. They are sleeping all over the place and my super says it’s a problem.” And I say to them “Well, that is a violation of their lease, because a lease states who is supposed to live in there and it does not allow you to sublet it or put a bunch of other people. I often have to remind clients that there is a law in New York that allows a tenant to have a roommate and if you rent to one person and that person brings in a roommate that is not a violation of the lease. He is allowed to have a roommate and in addition that roommate can have an immediate family. So if that roommate has children, that roommate and the children are allowed.”
Those are not the grounds to remove a tenant or to evict a tenant. However, if a tenant has in fact brought in a lot of people or is subletting a bedroom to somebody without telling you, that is a violation of the lease and you can take the tenant to court to terminate the lease and evict them on those grounds. Other than that there are other grounds that statute says that if a tenant is creating a nuisance in the building or in the apartment, you can evict the tenant on those grounds. If the tenant has unlawfully sub lettered or assigned the leased, if they moved out and put someone else in there, you can evict the tenant on those grounds. If the tenant refuses to sign a renewal lease, you could evict the tenant on those grounds. However, you must be very diligent in obtaining your proof. If you have reason to believe that the tenant has sublet the apartment you have to find out the names and who those people are and you have to put their names on your papers to show the court that you know who they are and those are the grounds at the court to evict the tenant.
If a tenant on record on the apartment has moved and put someone else on that apartment, you have to find out where that tenant has moved to and you do that with public records to find out they bought another house or they are renting another apartment and you get that information and you attach that to your papers and that is your proof as you go to court.
So your grounds to evict a rent stabilized tenant are clearly defined in the statute. Unlike when it is in a private house with a less than six units, you have much more leeway in evicting a tenant.