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JARRED IN THE TIMES: ON HOUSE-SITTERS

No Entry for House-Sitter

Q I live in a luxury building in New York City, and I travel quite frequently on business, sometimes for up to a week or two. Recently, I wanted to allow an out-of-town friend to house-sit while I was away. The building management company refused him entry. The only explanation provided was that it created “liability issues.” I have a standard lease with no extraordinary provisions regarding guests or roommates. Can the management company do that?

A Residential tenants are permitted to have guests and roommates under New York law, but leases typically prohibit “subleasing” without a landlord’s consent, said Jarred I. Kassenoff, a Manhattan real estate lawyer. The question becomes whether the duration of the occupancy by the “house-sitter” constitutes an “illegal sublet” rather than the stay of a guest or roommate.

“Given that the tenant only will be away for ‘up to’ two weeks,” Mr. Kassenoff said, “it is doubtful that the short-term nature of the arrangement would be sufficient to trigger an eviction.” But as the landlord is permitted to establish reasonable security protocols for the safety of the residents, there may have been a good-faith basis to the owner’s refusal to allow entry to the guest, who had not been preapproved. So the writer should try to get preapproval the next time he will have a house-sitter.

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