Check to Make Sure Person Who Signs Renewal Lease Is the Tenant
Generally, tenants in rent-stabilized apartments must be offered renewal leases. The renewal lease can be for a term of one or two years, at the tenant’s choice and is at a rate set by the Rent Guidelines Board. The renewal lease offer must be made on a form created by or on a facsimile approved by the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR).
In New York City, the owner must give written notice of renewal by mail or personal delivery not more than 150 days and not less than 90 days before the existing lease expires on a DHCR Renewal Lease Form (RTP-8).
After the renewal offer is made, the tenant has 60 days to choose a lease term, sign the lease, and return it to the owner. If the tenant doesn’t accept the renewal lease offer within this 60-day period, the owner may refuse to renew the lease and, if the tenant hasn’t moved out after the expiration of the current lease, may also proceed in court to have the tenant evicted.
When a tenant signs the renewal lease form and returns it to the owner, the owner must return the fully signed and dated copy to the tenant within 30 days. A renewal should go into effect on or after the date that it’s signed and returned to the tenant but no earlier than the expiration date of the current lease. In general, the lease and any rent increase may not begin retroactively.
Renewal leases must keep the same terms and conditions as the expiring lease unless a change is necessary to comply with a specific law or regulation. Also, when a tenant receives the Lease Renewal Form, a copy of the New York City Lease Rider For Rent Stabilized Tenants must be attached. The rider explains how the proposed rent was computed and describe the rights and obligations of tenants and owners under the Rent Stabilization Law.
Occasionally, you may get back a renewal lease form you’ve sent to a rent-stabilized tenant with a discrepancy. Without asking for permission, a tenant may have had someone else, such as a roommate or family member, sign the renewal lease in anticipation of moving out. To stay on top of this, you should check that the name of the person who signed the renewal lease forms and the name of the person who signed the original vacancy lease are the same. If the names are different and you accept and sign the renewal lease, you may miss out on a vacancy increase and cause disruption to your operations if a new person takes over the apartment when the tenant dies or moves out.
Substitutions Not Allowed
No one has the legal right to substitute his or her name and signature for that of the tenant’s on renewal lease forms unless you agree to the substitution. This includes the tenant’s spouse, children, or roommate.
However, if the tenant wants to add the spouse’s name to the renewal lease, you must comply—but only if the spouse uses the apartment as a primary residence. Once the spouse’s name gets added to the lease, you must continue to renew the lease with the spouse’s name, even if the original tenant later drops off the lease.
Being able to add a spouse to the lease is one of the exceptions to the “same terms and conditions” requirement of any renewal of the lease. In other words, an owner can’t collect any additional rent increase for the addition of a spouse to the lease.
Remember that as a result of New York’s Marriage Equality Act, a spouse includes a man or woman in a same-sex marriage. And New York also recognizes as legal marriages same-sex marriages performed under the laws of other states.
In contrast, a tenant doesn’t have the right to add the name of another family member or roommate to a rent-stabilized lease. An owner may refuse, for example, to add the name of the tenant’s adult child, sibling, or domestic partner to the lease. Courts specifically have ruled that a domestic partner doesn’t have the same rights as a spouse because “New York gives greater rights to married couples than to persons in other types of relationships” [Zagrosik v. DHCR, July 2006; see also Zunce v. Rodriguez, October 2008].
Resend Blank Renewal Forms to Tenant
If the names signed on the forms don’t match the name signed on the original vacancy lease, send the tenant another blank renewal lease forms with a cover letter. Your cover letter, like our Model Letter: Send Letter to Tenant with New Renewal Forms, should explain that the renewal forms that were returned are null and void because they were signed by someone other than the tenant. Sometimes, after getting this letter, the tenant will admit that he or she no longer lives in the apartment, and you may then be able to rent the apartment to a new tenant and get a vacancy increase. It’s important to note that you don’t have to give the tenant additional time to return the renewal forms. The law requires the tenant to return them to you within 60 days from the date that appears on the original renewal forms you sent.
See The Model Tools For This Article
|Send Letter to Tenant with New Renewal Forms