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Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

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Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

Postby AmericanCafe » Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:44 pm

I've lived in my building for 4 years and like it very much. A few days ago, as I was coming up on the end of my current lease extension (August is my last month) and was about to extend again with the building manager, we learned that the building had been sold to another owner.

The sale was extremely fast - the old manager told me that there hadn't been time for the usual process of their asking me to renew. I've contacted the new owner via phone and email, and after a few tries finally got a response: they are still entering all the tenant info into their system, and will talk about leases some time next week.

At that point I'll have less than 3 weeks on my lease and I feel uncomfortable in this position, to say the least. I have no idea what their pricing strategy will be like, but in the words of Han Solo, I have a bad feeling about this. I know I should have arranged to renew the lease before this, but it wouldn't have been a problem with the old owner and this sale was a complete surprise.

I expect (but am not assured of) an offer to renew, but at an unknown and possibly excessive (for me) rent. I'm not sure if I have to re-up or leave at the end of August, or whether I can go month-to-month to find an alternative if I need to. I'm thinking that I need a plan B, and I'm looking at rental listings in the hood and nearby.

Of course all this is pretty disconcerting. I'd appreciate any suggestions in case I'm missing something! Thanks in advance for any help.
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Re: Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

Postby TenantNet » Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:17 pm

First, it's not a lease "extension." It's a renewal. OK, a minor point, but an important distinction.

Second, anyone in what the LL claims is an unregulated unit should investigate the unit's history with DHCR and get the rent history. Many/most landlords will lie to tenants. Start here: http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/tenantresources.htm -- and do not tell the LL you're doing this.

If there is evidence the unit was not properly deregulated, you can petition DHCR to have the unit declared still subject to rent stab.

A new owner "steps into the shoes" of the old owner. So all existing leases continue until they end. But if indeed the unit is really unregulated, then any owner can renew your lease on whatever conditions they wish, or even decide to not renew.

If the current lease expires, and the new LL accepts your rent, then you become a month-to-month tenant with all the same provisions as the last lease. Later they can take you to court seeking to evict you, but that can take time. Many tenants will negotiate with LLs to give them more time to find a new place. Six to twelve months is not uncommon, but better with a good tenant attorney.

The point is you will have options, and do not have to leave by the end of August. There are procedures they will have to follow, like a 30-day written notice. If they give you that notice on September 1, then it's not effective until Nov. 1st.
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Re: Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

Postby AmericanCafe » Wed Aug 02, 2017 4:32 pm

Thanks very much! This thing was a total surprise, we had zero notice, and it has been very stressful. Good to know that I will likely have time to find a new place if necessary. I followed your advice RE researching the rental history, and should know something in a few days. I guess if things don't go well it will be worth speaking with a tenant attorney.
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Re: Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

Postby TenantNet » Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:14 pm

Just understand with landlords it's hurry-up and wait. You do not have to do things on their schedule. If they want you out, yes, that will eventually happen. But there are procedures and laws that mean it doesn't happen yesterday. Right now you don't even know if they want you out. So just chill.

As for research, keep it quiet. Don't tell the LL anything thrt will get them bent out of shape. If you know your neighbors, you can very discreetly ask about the history of the place. Find out about the prior tenants and the unit itself. With the rent history from DHCR, you can get a better sense of what happened. Seriously most landlords just lie to get units out of stabilization.

There is a 4 year statute of limitations, but that has to do with the level of rent, not the RS status.
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Re: Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

Postby AmericanCafe » Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:51 am

I'll admit to being freaked out by all this - on Friday I went from having a nice place at a decent price as long as I wanted it to OMG, and it has indeed gotten to me a bit. My hood has recently experienced several purchases of old buildings by developers for much more than what would appear to be their value, and small business owners and long-time tenants have been tossed out via huge rent increases to make way for more profitable inhabitants. It's one thing to read about this stuff, but another to even come close to living it.

I know there are some stabilized units in my building, but mine is not one of them, at least according to the old landlord and my lease. I'm interested to see the DHCR history, though.

Thanks again, and I hope to have some relatively good news soon.
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Re: Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

Postby TenantNet » Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:49 am

Just curious if you don't mind, what's the address of the building, or the general area. Please tell us via Private Mail (use the PM button), not the public forum.
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Re: Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

Postby AmericanCafe » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:29 am

(PM sent) Thanks again for everything so far. I've decided to follow the advice of Marcus Aurelius: The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious. Well, I guess a lot of this is actually obvious:

  • I'm preparing to have a talk with the new owner; there is a chance this could all be a false alarm, but:
  • I've lined up a friend who is a real estate agent;
  • the agent has recommended an attorney if needed;
  • I have located a number of alternative rentals and I'm following up on them RE actual plausibility;
  • considering some friends' advice to relocate to Chicago, where real estate is much less pricey, but that would mean finding a new day gig, so another layer of complication;
  • considering just finding a cheap place upstate and getting out of this madness. Trout fishing might be a nice alternative to computers, music, and a social life.
At least it keeps me busy and sort of productive while having my happy home sold out from under me proceeds at its own inscrutable pace. While I wait to hear from them, I see workers coming in every day doing repairs and aesthetic work on unoccupied apartments, I definitely sense an effort to upscale the place. You'd think they could spare a member of the "leasing team" to talk to people in my position.

I can't escape the feeling that something funny is going on WRT the sale, thus the mystery, confusion, the rush, and the lack of communication. Part of me thinks that maybe the Attorney General's office should know something about this.
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Re: Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

Postby TenantNet » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:59 am

None of your options focus on keeping your place.
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Re: Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

Postby AmericanCafe » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:17 pm

That's true, and probably a function of my current state of mind. Of course staying here is the best-case scenario, and I'm happy to (well, reconciled with) put(ting) up with a reasonable rise in the rent if that's what it comes to; I know I'm getting a pretty good deal right now on a nice place in Manhattan located just where I want. Nothing would be better than having another 2 years here at something close to my current rent.

But as far as I can tell I'm in a fairly weak position to force anything, so I'm covering myself just in case.

Just met the new manager again today, seems like an OK guy, said that they had stacks of boxes of paper leases and tenant info to translate into database records, and it was taking some time. During our conversation he said that the old guys should have sent me a notice to renew in May. (I agree...)
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Re: Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

Postby AmericanCafe » Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:23 pm

Still no word from the new owners/management. I'm at a loss to understand what they are doing; they could have evil intentions, or they could just be disorganized. I'd love to just sign another lease, I really don't want to have to move right now, but I'm forced to start looking seriously at the alternatives.
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Re: Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

Postby TenantNet » Tue Aug 08, 2017 1:44 pm

It's always good to be prepared for anything, but a lot of what you raise is just speculation. I'd wait until you get a clearer idea what they are up to. Chill.

OK to ask the manager about the renewal, but don't get crazy about it.
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Re: Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

Postby AmericanCafe » Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:28 am

A bit more very qualified progress, if I can call it that. In an email conversation two days ago a person in the leasing office acknowledged receipt of my last rent check on 8/1. When I asked (offhand, casually, not crazy) if there was any news on renewing the lease she clammed up, no response.

Today I spoke with a friend in the building, who told me that she knows a few others in the building who are in a similar position, and they have all been told that the new owners aren't ready to deal with that stuff yet. Nice that it's probably not personal, but all I can think is that the new owners are either poorly organized, or evil, or both. Either they don't know what they're doing, which we can deal with, or they know exactly what they're doing, and there will be trouble.

So now it's 18 days until my lease is up and I'm getting the feeling it will go to month-to-month. Meanwhile, I've gotten pre-qualified and I've started looking at rentals and potential purchases, although I hate to think about making a commitment like that on such short notice.
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Re: Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

Postby TenantNet » Sat Aug 12, 2017 4:00 am

You need clearer info from the LL as to what is going on. There may in fact be plans to try to get rid of tenants, but you don't want to be adversarial at this point, or make accusations you can't support. I would keep talking to neighbors, but do so quietly and don't give ANYONE any reason for them to accuse you of doing anything. Keep a low profile. But keep watching, document everything.

If there's a chance your apt should be rent stab., I would fight for that.
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Re: Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

Postby AmericanCafe » Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:01 pm

I just received the DHCR rent history. Is this an OK place to discuss, or is PM better?
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Re: Lease Expires Soon, Building Sold, Yikes

Postby TenantNet » Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:58 pm

If you can, scan (in PDF format, not JPG, and make it 200 dpi, greyscale) it an upload it via the PM, not the public area of the forum.
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