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Subletting for years- what are my rights?

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Subletting for years- what are my rights?

Postby NYC_COCO88 » Sun Mar 31, 2019 6:50 pm

Hi there-

I am looking for assistance on my sublet case.

In 2015 I moved back to nyc and needed to sublet an apartment. The sublet was initially temporary (three to six months) but the person who is on the lease, kept extending their stay abroad, meanwhile I really like the apartment.

As a result it is now 2019 and I continue to sublet from this person. The issue is that I'm pretty sure that they do not have permission from the landlord bc they have always refused to give me the landlord's number and deal with them directly.

This month has been especially difficult because there was no heating in the apartment for a couple of weeks, and on top of it, the tenant told me that rent had risen (I have no proof of this rent rise of course). As a result I replied that I didnt want to pay for the extra rent this month given that I had no heat for two weeks and that it was illegal. This seems to have upset the tenant and now they are telling me theyre giving me one month's notice and that if I want to stay, I need to pay them an extra 2k bc they are claiming I didn't pay rent once in 2015.

I have all the wire transfers for the past four years here. The landlord isn't dumb and knows Ive been here for all these years but there is a language barrier so I can't communicate that I want the lease. That aside- don't I have rights to this apartment when I have been living here for almost four years and have proof of that? All my mail comes to this address, I have paid on time every month since 2015.... and now it seems I am being extorted in order to stay longer.

Do you guys know what my rights are? I read somewhere today that subletting beyond 2 years in nyc is illegal but I'm not sure what that means for me...

Also- Am I allowed to change the locks? I am concerned that the tenant will react negatively and I know a friend of theirs has a copy of the apt key. I know it's illegal for them to come into the apt without telling me but I really would feel safer changing the locks in the middle of all of this, so wanted to know if anyone had any experience in any of this.

Thanks in advance,
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Joined: Sun Mar 31, 2019 6:35 pm

Re: Subletting for years- what are my rights?

Postby TenantNet » Sun Mar 31, 2019 7:45 pm

There are many publications on subletting. But I would start here: http://www.tenant.net/tengroup/Metcounc ... ublet.html
The article is pretty old, but as far as I know, laws on subletting have not changed since then.

You don't say if the unit is rent stabilized or not, but that shouldn't really matter. The basic right to sublet is not part of the RS laws and applies to all tenants.

For the actual law, see https://law.justia.com/codes/new-york/2 ... le-7/226-b

It's entirely possible the prime tenant has not chosen to get permission from the LL. That happens frequently, and for good reason. LL's use subletting as a way to evict tenants, especially if they are RS.

Some RS tenants use sublets to profiteer from a RS unit. That's wrong when that happens. (see below)

For the alleged rent you didn't pay in 2015, well look to your records to see what happened there. You said you have the wire transfers, so that probably is proof. It could be the tenant is just over-reacting to your complaint.

I can understand your anger of not having heat, and yes, the tenant should have done something about it.

If the tenant wants you out, he/she would have to commence a licensee proceeding in housing court ... just as if he/she was the LL and you were the tenant. They would probably have to hire a lawyer and things can get messy.

Have you gotten a rent history from DHCR? That can tell you if the unit is RS and the legal rent ... and if you're being grossly overcharged by the tenant. DHCR will require you to provide something to show you actually live in the unit. Go here: https://hcr.ny.gov/most-common-rent-reg ... al-history

Normally DHCR will want a copy of the lease, but as a sublet you don't have that. I know they allow for other documentation other than the lease. But you might get conflicting answers depending on who you speak with. Be persistent on that.

As for a right to stay, sorry, but you don't.

Subletting beyond 2 years? Well the law essentially say the tenant has a right to sublet 2 out of 4 years. But that's often ignored.

Changing the locks? Well you could do that, but I don't know what the legal issues are. Many tenants change locks so the LL can't just waltz in, even though technically tenants are supposed to give copies of keys to the LL.
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Re: Subletting for years- what are my rights?

Postby NYC_COCO88 » Sun Mar 31, 2019 10:21 pm

Thanks for all that info.

I read somewhere that if youve been subletting for over 1 year you need to get at least 60 days notice though- thirty days feels like as really short time after living here for four years.

Annoyingly I looked at the records about the August rent and it shows that I didn't pay- but we have an email exchange after I wired them the deposit and the pro rated amount for that month- and I specifically ask (In July) "the next check is due in september correct?" to which they respond "yes, the next check is due in september". Unfortunately I dont remember the intricacies of our agreement as it was all super casual, but it appears that part of the deposit was going into the first month rent and now the tenant is going against their word. thoughts?

Also- if the apt is in fact rent stabilized- what would that mean towards the current tenant?

Thank you,
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Joined: Sun Mar 31, 2019 6:35 pm

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