You have defenses against a landlord who tries to evict you because you’ve complained, even if you live in an unregulated apartment.
Your landlord doesn’t have to renew your lease if you live in an apartment not protected by rent stabilization or rent control laws. However, if your landlord refuses to renew your lease because you complained about conditions in your apartment or the building, that’s called “retaliatory eviction.” Under New York State law, your landlord cannot evict you in retaliation for enforcing your rights.
Existing statutes presume that if you’ve complained to a government agency about your landlord within the last six months, and the landlord terminates your tenancy, it’s in retaliation. If you or your attorney can prove retaliation, you can beat the eviction. But if your landlord can show there are other reasons why you aren’t being renewed, such as a bad payment record or wanting the apartment for a family member or personal use, your claim of retaliatory eviction can be defeated.
If more than six months have passed and your lease isn’t renewed in retaliation, there are still “common law” protections available to you. “Common law” refers to actual cases decided at Court that set a precedent for future decisions, as opposed to “statutes” or “legislation.” If you’ve complained to your landlord, or had litigation and think you won’t be offered a renewal lease, it’s best to speak to an attorney now and develop a plan of action. An L&T practitioner should be able to evaluate your chances of pressuring your landlord to renew your lease.
The Non-Primary Residence Renewal Trap. Another landlord tactic that can be used to take your home away from you is to claim that it isn’t your primary residence. Under New York City’s rent-stabilization code, if it can be proved that your apartment isn’t where you primarily reside, you aren’t entitled to continuation of regulated protection and can be evicted. As with “personal use” cases mentioned above, tenants receive a Golub Notice, which says that when your lease term ends, you’ll have to leave.
Fortunately, Jeff McAdams has been very successful in defeating Golub notices and keeping his clients in their apartments. Landlords frequently bring these suits without sufficient factual proof to support their positions. McAdams Law has challenged many landlords to produce evidence of nonprimary residency in court and has frequently prevailed for tenants.
If you are in a situation in which you will not be not living in your apartment for an extended period of time, or have other interests in real estate such as a vacation home or another property, you may be vulnerable to losing your lease.