Can You Get Money for Your Rent-Stabilized Apartment?

By Chereen James

Change is swiftly flowing though the housing landscape of New York. New luxury buildings are being erected all over the City, and the demand for housing pushes low-income renters and owners to the outskirts and even out of the City, making way for higher-income earners and leading to a hefty rent spike. This rent spike encourages property owners to find creative ways to circumnavigate housing protection laws such as the rent stabilization laws, which aim to regulate the housing market and keep rent low. One of the ways in which property owners get rid of tenants—so that they can increase the rent—is through tenant buyouts. Here’s what you should know when faced with a buyout or eviction from your rent-stabilized apartment.

1. Know Your Rights

As a rent-stabilized tenant, your family is entitled to succession rights. Succession rights allow your apartment to be passed on to a family member, who lived with you at least two years before your death and who depended on you for financial support. When faced with a buyout, you completely vacate the apartment and your family will not be able to inherit your rent-stabilized apartment.

2. Is the Buyout Legal?

New York City law regulates how a property owner can approach you for the buyout of your apartment. Landlords have made the promise to pay in exchange for a vacatur of the apartment, but the laws ensure that they keep their end of the bargain once you move.

The NYC Administrative Code states that a landlord should not force or threaten you to give up your rights to your apartment. The code also states that a landlord cannot leave the premises in bad condition to induce you into moving out. Regarding buyouts, the code states that it must be in writing, and it must state that you can decline the offer for a buyout, you can speak to an attorney, and that the contact is on behalf of the owner. If you accept or decline the offer, it must be in writing as well. It is important that you speak to a landlord tenant attorney regarding your rights as a rentstabilized tenant.

3. How Much Should They Offer?

There is no standard amount on what an owner should offer, and tenant buyouts have varied based on multiple factors. Some owners can afford to pay more money to their tenants than others. At other times, the location of the property would be a factor in determining the buyout rate.

Landlords who own properties that will have a high market rate for rent will have an increased incentive to buyout tenants, as it will open an opportunity for higher income. It is important to understand your rights as a rent-stabilized tenant.

The right of succession allows for your family to continue living with regulated rent. A substantial buyout can provide opportunities for you to pay off debts, purchase a new home so that you can become a homeowner yourself, start a business, or take advantage of many opportunities for growing wealth. Speak to a landlord-tenant attorney to ensure that your rights are not violated and that you receive just compensation for your rent-stabilized apartment.

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