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Rent-stabilized month-to-month, asked to sign lease

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

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Rent-stabilized month-to-month, asked to sign lease

Postby La Bohème » Tue May 11, 2021 8:16 pm

Short version: after years of being month-to-month in stabilized unit, have been sent a "renewal lease." Questions!

Long version (sorry): I signed an RSA "RESIDENTIAL STABILIZED LEASE" with preferential rent rider for my current studio apartment beginning 10/1/13 and ending 9/30/14. Not having received a renewal lease, in September 2014 I emailed my landlord to ask for one. He replied he would send one, but did so only many months later, backdated to the expiration of my current lease. The lease had the same preferential rent (no increase). I was not subsequently sent renewal leases and did not request them, continuing to pay the same rent every month for years.

Sometime during the summer of 2020 management was apparently handed over to a professional management company run by a member of my landlord's family. I missed some mail while out of the city for a few months during quarantine (my held mail was returned after 30 days), so it's possible I missed a letter and/or renewal lease; that said I was in the city through May 15 and should have received any mail through that date. I became aware of the management company only in August when I returned to see a bill indicating balances due for July and August 2020. The balances were 2.5% of the rent I had been paying (which I believe would indicate the increase for a two-year lease beginning around that time). I paid the balances without inquiring, and have continued to pay the new total monthly.

A week and a half ago, I received an RTP-8 renewal lease form dated 4/1--but postmarked 4/28, i.e. with fewer than 90 days' notice--offering me my choice of one- or two-year lease commencing 7/1. I was in fact already looking to move to a bigger apartment--but have no yet found one--and do not wish to give up my month-to-month status. I have not yet replied to the management company.

My questions:
(0. If I could ask as an aside--I am now looking for a one-bedroom in Manhattan, and although paying current market rates is feasible, I hesitate to move to a non-stabilized unit after past unpleasant lease renewal experiences. Some sources suggest Good Cause Eviction has excellent chances of passing soon, in which case my fears may be overblown. I haven't found many stabilized one-bedrooms in the neighborhoods I'm interested in, but my search methods may be amateurish. Quite by chance I found a broker who has some seemingly excellent stabilized listings for one of the big landlords, but quotes an exorbitant fee, the details of which I can share privately. I wonder if you have any advice on how much I should consider paying, or know of other brokers?)
1. It seems the 2.5% increase I have been paying this year may not have been quite kosher? (The money is not a big deal.)
2. Can I be forced to sign a lease now? If I have to be on a lease I would prefer it start later--I would have assumed it would be on my original October 1 schedule--to give me more time to look. Can the landlord insist on July 1?

Thank you for any help you can provide!

Best,
"Marcello"
La Bohème
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri May 07, 2021 1:06 am

Re: Rent-stabilized month-to-month, asked to sign lease

Postby TenantNet » Mon May 17, 2021 11:27 am

Sorry for the delay, but those that put in a long version, should expect a delay.

Assuming there is no question of your RS status... in general, if a LL fails to offer a lease renewal to a RS tenant, the legal rent does not go up (by the 1 or 2 year RGB increases). See the back side of the DHCR RTP-8 form, instructions to tenant and landlord.

Then look at the Lebovits articles
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=13981

Article no. 1 - see page 38 on Preferential Rents:

The preferential rent agreed to at the beginning of tenancy is good through the end of the tenancy, subject to periodic RGB increases. LLs may not rescind the preferential rent during the tenancy and jump it up to the former legal rent. The LL may go back to the former legal rent only when a tenant vacates.

This applies as of 6/14/19 to any tenant with a lease or is entitled to have a lease (even if the LL fails to offer a lease).

For a pre-2019 PR discussion, see here: http://tenant.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=6897

For 2019 and after issues, see the DHCR Fact Sheet #40 at https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documen ... 9-2019.pdf

Generally backdated leases are improper. See "2025 Regent Place LLC v. Bell" -- see below. But I would get better research or a legal opinion on this as the discussion in that decision does not appear to be controlling..

And any overcharge that might have occurred due to this back-dating might be moot due to the four-year lookback limit on overcharges.

So it appears you have had one renewal that ended in either 2015 or 2016. Since you have had no later renewal leases, that rent (the preferential rent at that time) should still be the same now in 2021 in our opinion. And as you said, that is the rent you have been paying all along. (did you check DHCR registrations? I would do so, and look at them carefully. Ask for them from DHCR or FOIL them)

Missing mail is no big deal, and I would think any court would allow for that, especially as many people have been out-of-town due to COVID. Don't speculate if you missed a lease offer; the LL would have to make that allegation. Don't suggest to them they should say that. Don't bring it up on your own.

If they charged, and if you paid an increase of 2.5% since August 2020, that could indeed be an overcharge. Your legal (payable) rent should be the same as in 2014 because (they never offered later lease renewals) and because the 2019 laws made changes how PR's work.

"A week and a half ago, I received an RTP-8 renewal lease form dated 4/1--but postmarked 4/28, i.e. with fewer than 90 days' notice--offering me my choice of one- or two-year lease commencing 7/1. I was in fact already looking to move to a bigger apartment--but have no yet found one--and do not wish to give up my month-to-month status. I have not yet replied to the management company."

So again, don't dwell on if you missed mail; focus on the 4/28 mailing.

See if the rent amounts are correct ... the 2014 rent (the preferential rent) plus any current RGB increases (for the 2020-2021 year). An incorrect amount would also be grounds to reject an offer.

You say the RTP-8 was dated 4/1. Was that the date the lease offer was written, or the effective date? In our view, what matters is the date in which it was mailed. Always keep the envelopes for postmark proofs. The LL might have sent it by certified mail or by certificate of mailing. If you can get that tracking number, see what the USPS database says.

So a lease sent to you on 4/28, as you say, would not have the 90 day notice period. You could send it back to them (using certified mail) that you "intend and are willing to sign a valid lease offer," (us that language as to your intention) but what they sent to you was invalid, as ask them to send a renewal offer with proper dates.

Now it gets tricky. You don't know what next year's RGB rates will be (for leases commencing on or after 10/1/21).

If your goal is to buy some time before a new lease kicks in, you can respond in late May; they wouldn't get it until June and at the earliest they would (might) send a corrected lease offer in mid-to-late June. The 90 days would start then on July 1, effective 10/1/21 at the new RGB rates. If you want the current year's RGB rates, then I would respond sooner.

Also read the RTP-8 instructions as they would be controlling.

My questions:

Don't bet on Good Cause Eviction. That's more an ideological slogan than a real thing, and it's iffy if it gets passed or not. The groups pushing that are known for selling-out.

The "excellent" is just wishful thinking. I haven't looked, but I would think right now there will be a better chance of finding a RS unit, essentially due to COVID. Some LLs might be warehousing units. In the old days, we knocked on doors to find RS units. In a few weeks that might all change.

1. It seems the 2.5% increase I have been paying this year may not have been quite kosher? (The money is not a big deal.)

See above.

2. Can I be forced to sign a lease now? If I have to be on a lease I would prefer it start later--I would have assumed it would be on my original October 1 schedule--to give me more time to look. Can the landlord insist on July 1?

See above. I don't think the LL can force a 7/1/21 start given the errors in the offer, but I don't know all the details of your situation.


================================

2025 Regent Place LLC v. Bell
Renewal Lease Violates RSC Provisions, Void; Tenant Granted Dismissal of Nonpayment Action
February 17, 2021 at 12:00 AM

Docket
Practice Area: Landlord Tenant Law
Date filed: 2020-12-23
Court: Civil Court, Kings
Judge: Judge Kevin McClanahan
Case Number: 59459/19

Case Digest Summary

Bell moved for summary judgment dismissing this nonpayment proceeding arguing a May 25, 2017, renewal lease was unenforceable as it failed to comply with the applicable Rent Stabilization Code provisions. She argued the lease was back-dated, which was impermissible, and was offered prematurely as the lease signed by the deceased tenant of record did not expire until Aug. 2019, and passed to the tenant of record's estate after tenant's death. The court stated without an action taken against tenant of record's estate, petitioner had no sufficient right to possession of the premises or to offer a renewal lease on which this proceeding was predicated. The court also found the renewal lease was not in proper form as it was offered without a requisite rider setting forth the rights and duties of tenants and owners in a rent-stabilized apartment, ruling such rights could not be waived by a tenant. Therefore, the court concluded, based on the facts here, not denied by landlord, it found the renewal lease was void as it violated the applicable provisions of the Rent Stabilization Law. The court granted tenant's motion and dismissed this nonpayment proceeding.

Full Case Digest Text

Recitation, as required by CPLR 2219(A), of the papers considered in the review of this Notice of Motion:

PAPERS NUMBERED
NOTICE OF MOTION AND AFFIRMATION & AFFIDAVIT ANNEXED 1-3
ANSWER AFFIRMATION 13-14
REPLYING AFFIRMATION 17
EXHIBITS 4-12, 15-16

DECISION/ORDER By this motion, respondent Janea Bell moves for summary judgment dismissing the instant nonpayment proceeding. Petitioner opposes the motion. Respondent alleges the Renewal Lease Form dated May 25, 2017 (hereinafter, the “renewal lease”) is unenforceable as it fails to comply with the applicable provisions of the Rent Stabilization Code. First, the renewal lease was back-dated which is impermissible. Second, it was offered prematurely as the renewal lease signed by the deceased tenant of record did not expire until August 31, 2019. After her death, the renewal lease passed to the estate of the tenant of record. Westway Plaza Assocs. v. Doe, 189 AD2d 408 91st Dept 1992). Without any action taken against the tenant of record’s estate, the petitioner did not have a sufficient right of possession to the premises to offer the renewal lease upon which the instant proceeding is predicated. In 245 Realty Assocs. v. Sussis, 243 A.D.2d 29, (1st Dept 1998), the court observed:

In the ordinary course of events, a family member, who remains in the apartment following the departure of the named tenant, will receive a renewal notice towards the end of the lease term, directed to the named tenant; the recipient will thereupon inform the landlord of the tenant’s departure as well as his status as a family member; and, assuming there is no dispute regarding his status, the surviving family member will receive a renewal lease designating him tenant of record”.

Third, the renewal lease was also not proper in form as it was offered without the requisite rider setting forth the rights and duties of tenants and owners in a rent stabilized apartment. These rights cannot be waived by the respondent. See 9 NYCRR Section 2522.5(b); 9 NYCRR Section 2520.13.

Based on the foregoing facts which are not denied by the petitioner, the Court determines that the renewal lease is void as it violates the applicable provisions of the Rent Stabilization Law. Accordingly, the Court hereby dismisses the instant nonpayment proceeding. The Court shall mail courtesy copies of its decision/order to counsel.

Dated: December 23, 2019
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