A new landlord doesn’t have to mean trouble. In many cases, the sale of an apartment building is pretty routine. Most people who buy apartment buildings want tenants, and see your presence as an asset.
Nevertheless, there are some legal issues you should be aware of. Here’s what you need to know.
The Landlord must notify the tenants of the sale via registered or certified mail.
The letter must include the name and address of the new owner.
Your existing lease transfers to the new owner. This protects you—the landlord can’t just make you move out immediately.
The only exception is if the lease has a clause which says it terminates on sale of building. This is a rare provision that isn’t commonly found.
Still, this does not mean the landlord can’t refuse to renew your lease later. Nevertheless, that’s a right your old landlord would have had, too.
If you’re on a month-to-month lease you might be in a bit of trouble. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to stay in the apartment. Be willing to offer to sign a longer-term lease if you really want to stay.
If the new landlord violates the terms of your lease, you can break the lease without repercussion, but be careful. This is a good time to involve a lawyer, because if you misstep here you could end up owing thousands of dollars and in a bad position when it’s time to find a new apartment.
If you are in a rent stabilized apartment you have the right to automatic lease renewals. You cannot be evicted if you pay your rent on time and continue to meet the conditions of your lease. Your rent can’t be raised any higher than the percentages set by the Rent Guidelines Board.
If your landlord sells the building, they have five days to transfer all security deposits to the new owner. If they don’t transfer the security deposits to the new owner, they must return them to the tenants.
If you don’t receive your deposit, then it’s important to confirm the security deposit has been transferred. Get confirmation of where the security deposit is being held.
Cash for Keys
What if the landlord really wants you out? Perhaps they have visions of renovating the whole building into something else, or of upgrading all the apartments into luxury unit.
The landlord may offer you a payment to move out. Both parties must agree to terminate the lease early and must arrive at a fair rate of compensation.
You have the right to refuse this payout, but it might not be in your best interests to do so. Landlords can find perfectly legal ways to make life uncomfortable for tenants who don’t want to go. If the offer isn’t fair or doesn’t give you the ability to find a new place, keep negotiating. But unless you have a rent-controlled apartment or some other great reason to stick to that specific one, it’s usually better to just find a new place to live. After all, you may be out of luck at lease renewal time, anyway.
Steps to Protect Yourself
There are a few things you can do to protect yourself.
- Keep paying your rent on time.
- Abide by the conditions of your lease.
- Get your rent history from the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal.
- Renew your lease for as long as possible.
- Get to know your neighbors; you may need to band together with them if something goes wrong.
Finally, if the landlord is violating the law, trying to force you out illegally, or is taking some other problematic action, reach out to McAdams Law. We’ll work hard to protect your rights.
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