Regulated tenancies do not necessarily end simply because the tenant-of-record has died or relocated. Remaining family members, as defined by the governing rules, who also satisfy certain occupancy requirements, may remain in their apartments and request leases in their own names.
A recent case presented an interesting twist on the topic. If a deceased tenant's Last Will and Testament disclaimed a surviving family member's entitlement to inherit any estate-related property, what impact will that disclaimer have on the occupant's succession claim? According to the Appellate Term, First Department, in the case of 350 Central Park West Assoc. v. Seiff, the consequences of being disinherited are not dire, particularly if the other elements of a succession claim can be satisfied. As the appellate court observed:
While the deceased tenant elected in his will "not to leave any part of [his] estate to [respondent]," such a decree, even if unchallenged by respondent at probate, did not result in respondent's forfeiture, on collateral estoppel grounds, of any succession rights to the stabilized apartment. Inasmuch as a residential lease "is not a property right that devolves upon death to be passed from one generation to another" ... the deceased tenant's testamentary intent cannot serve to abrogate a right to succession conferred exclusively by statute. In affirming, we do not pass on the merits of respondent's underlying succession claim.
At least as far as succeeding to a regulated tenancy is concerned, this case proves that being left out of a Will doesn't necessarily mean you'll be left out in the cold.
For a copy of the Appellate Term's decision in 350 Central Park West Assoc. v. Seiff, please click on the following link:
For a copy of the DHCR's Fact Sheet # 30 -- Succession Rights, please click on the following link: