So Your Landlord’s Selling Your Apartment? A Guide to NYC Tenants’ Rights

Landlord-tenant laws in New York City are complicated. If your landlord is selling your property or apartment building, you could be forced to move. Read this article for a guide to your rights when your landlord wishes to break the lease in order to sell your apartment.

It is not uncommon for landlords to want to sell their properties while their properties are still occupied by tenants. While it is usually perfectly legal for landlords to do this, there are certain laws that tenants should be familiar with and courses of action that tenants should take to make sure that they are not unlawfully caused to move from their apartments or unreasonably forced to pay more rent. The law differs depending on the type of residence occupied by the tenants. Tenant rights are different depending on whether the tenant resides in a fair market apartment, a rent regulated apartment, a coop, or a condo.

If a tenant occupying a fair market apartment signed a lease for his apartment that expires after his landlord sells his property, the new landlord must honor the terms of the lease originally agreed upon by the tenant and his previous landlord. The new landlord cannot legally alter any terms of the lease until the lease expires.

Rent regulated tenants are protected against eviction by government regulations. Because rent regulated tenants and apartments are regulated by government statute, a change in ownership of a property will not significantly affect rent controlled tenants in terms of their rent or right to continue living in a property.

Coop renters, like tenants of fair market apartments, are protected by their leases. If a tenant of a coop signed a lease for his apartment that expires after his landlord sells his property, the new landlord must honor the terms of the lease in place and cannot legally change the terms of the lease until it expires.

Condo renters are also protected by their leases in the same way that fair market apartment tenants are, but with one exception. In a standard condo lease, there is usually a clause that allows the landlord to give his tenant a thirty-day notice terminating the lease if the landlord wants to sell his property. During the initial negotiations of a lease, tenants are within their rights to negotiate for the removal of this clause, thus protecting them from being forced out of their apartments in the case of a change in ownership of their properties. If tenants did not insist on the omission of this clause before signing their leases, then landlords are legally within their rights to terminate the lease according to the clause mentioned above.

Regardless of residence type, whenever the landlord of a property changes, the old landlord is responsible for transferring tenants’ security deposits to the new landlord.

It is important to note that the abovementioned tenant rights are in effect only if tenants act responsibly and in accordance with the terms of their leases and the rules of their properties. If tenants violate any tenets of their leases, their contractual rights are put at risk and tenants become susceptible to legal action.

So Your Landlord's Selling Your Apartment? A Guide to NYC Tenants' Rights orignally published in StreetEasy's Blog on March 18, 2013.

Leave a Reply