This past weekend, Jonathan H. Newman responded to a New York Times reader's question:
Q & A
By JAY ROMANO
Must a Subtenant Move?
Q I have sublet a rent-stabilized apartment in Lower Manhattan since 2006. The friend who sublet the apartment to me has moved out. Since then I have paid the rent. This month I received a letter from management saying it has decided not to renew the lease when it expires because my friend does not use the apartment as his primary residence. Can they do this after I’ve been there seven years?
A “When a tenant leaves a rent-regulated apartment, a remaining occupant may be required to show an independent entitlement to remain in the unit,” said Jonathan H. Newman, a Manhattan real estate lawyer.
Under the law, a mere “roommate” or “subtenant” wouldn’t be able to demonstrate a right to stay as a protected tenant, and would probably be required to vacate the apartment at the end of the lease term. An exception might be made if it could be shown that the landlord had intended to create a tenancy with that rent-paying individual, or that the remaining occupant had “succession rights.”
Mr. Newman says the law recognizes the succession rights of spouses and other family members — for instance a child, a stepchild, a parent, a stepparent, grandchildren, grandparents, in-laws, siblings and their spouses — as well as other individuals who can prove an “emotional and financial commitment and interdependence” with the former tenant. But he points out that the letter-writer doesn’t appear to fall into any of these categories, so would be unlikely to be able to remain in the apartment after the end of the lease.