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NYC rent-control succession and SCRIE

Posted by Mactabbish on April 01, 1998 at 02:28:20:

Does anyone have experience with New York City rent-control succession rights and SCRIEs?

I'm writing on behalf on an elderly neighbor in my co-op building -- let's call her Betty -- who I believe may be entitled to succession rights and a refund of rent overcharges. But before I encourage her to fight for her rights, I want to be certain that she's entitled to protected status.

Betty lived in the apartment with her friend -- let's call her Alice -- from about 1960 until Alice's death in 1990. During that period, their household seems to have been almost a definition of "non-traditional family;" they were so close that many neighbors erroneously believe them to have been aunt and niece. I believe it's extremely likely that, under DHCR rules, their long-lived relationship would entitle Betty to succession rights.

Sometime in the mid-1980s -- at about the time the apartment was purchased by an investor -- Alice, who was the tenant of record, successfully applied for a SCRIE. On Alice's application, she had stated a "household income" that did not include any contributions from Betty, who was in fact working, earning an income, and sharing all household expenses at the time. From the time the SCRIE was granted until just after Alice's death, the investor who owned the apartment charged only the legal maximum amount of rent as allowed by the SCRIE.

Since Alice's death, however, the investor has been charging Betty a rent that's well above the old SCRIE amount and well above the old MBR amount -- the current rent being charged is, I estimate, five times what the MBR would reasonably be for the apartment.

My question is this: Since Alice's mid-1980s application for a SCRIE did not include Betty's monetary contributions, did that constitute a statement by Alice that Betty was not part of her household? And would that keep Betty from being able to assert succession rights now?

And, of course, the subtext is this: How vindictive will the owner of the apartment be if Betty files to establish succession rights and a refund of rent overcharges and she is unsuccessful?

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