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Sublet, Succession, Roommate: Multiple Defenses When You're Not There

Subletting is common in New York City. People have a variety of valid reasons for temporarily leaving their apartments and subleasing to others while they're gone. However, many landlords never want to miss a chance to turn over a tenant in order to get a rent increase. They frequently see these circumstances as an opportunity to evict by claiming the sublet is without consent.

The law specifies the process of getting the landlord's permission to sublet when leases require it. Permission can be limited to a two-year period for a rent-stabilized unit, and consent cannot be unreasonably withheld. Nevertheless, disputes arise even when tenants attempt to comply with all requirements. Fortunately, depending on your situation, there may be several defenses available to you.

If a family member, or someone with whom you maintain a family-type relationship, is in the apartment while you're gone, arguments may be made that the person is not a subtenant, since a familial association exists. In addition, if you are permanently vacating, and the apartment has been the primary residence both for you and the family member, he or she may have succession rights.

Similarly, the other occupant who is there with you, or in the unit for a short time while you are gone, may be a roommate. In that instance, you and the individual could have protection under the roommate laws, which allow you to have a roommate, and that person's dependent children.

The law in each of these areas is complex. If you have a rent-regulated apartment which is valuable to you, it would be to your advantage to secure the help of a knowledgeable Tenants' lawyer to interpret which provisions apply to your case. Then you'll have the best chance of succeeding in Court.

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