Real Estate Q&A: When Family and Friends Visit

When Family and Friends Visit

Q. If I allow close family and friends visiting from abroad to stay with me in my apartment, can a co-op board say I am subletting?

A. It depends on how closely related you are to your guests and how long they stay.

“Most proprietary leases permit an apartment to be occupied by the shareholder and the shareholder’s family,” said Dennis H. Greenstein, a Manhattan co-op and condominium lawyer.

In many cases, he said, “family” is defined as a spouse, children or stepchildren, and immediate family members. If the “close family” the letter writer is referring to is not permitted by the proprietary lease, they would not be allowed to “occupy” the apartment.

But Mr. Greenstein noted that proprietary leases generally permit overnight guests to stay in an apartment for up to 30 days, provided the shareholder is also present. “A friend will not qualify as a member of the letter writer’s family, but would be considered a guest,” he said.

Mr. Greenstein added that if any payment is being given to the letter writer by the family member or friend, the co-op board would most likely consider the arrangement a sublet. He said that most leases give the board the right to grant or withhold consent to a sublet, for any reason or for no reason, and permitted subletting may be subject to any conditions the board imposes.

Renewing After a Rent Increase

Q. I didn’t renew my lease when it was up for renewal because I wanted to try and negotiate the proposed rent increase. The landlord has not gotten back to me, however, after repeated efforts to reach him. If I just sign the lease now to ensure they don’t try to evict me, do I have to pay the new rent starting at the date my old lease expired (which is also the effective date of the new lease) or starting the date on which I sign the new lease?

A. “If the tenant signs and returns the lease now, he will be responsible for the higher rent going back to the commencement date of the lease,” said Samuel J. Himmelstein, a Manhattan lawyer who represents tenants.

But Mr. Himmelstein said that because this appears to be a nonregulated tenancy, unless the landlord has already signed the lease, the lease will not become effective until it is countersigned by the landlord and returned to the tenant.

If the landlord has accepted rent from the tenant subsequent to the termination of the last lease, a month-to-month tenancy has been created, he said. If that is the case and the landlord chooses not to sign the lease, he could start a holdover proceeding — basically, an eviction action — against the tenant, but only after serving the tenant with a 30-day termination notice. “In that proceeding, the court would have the discretion to give the tenant up to six months to relocate, conditioned upon payment of the market rent during that period,” Mr. Himmelstein said.

Waiting for an Offering Plan

Q. A good friend has an apartment under a market-rate lease in a building that is becoming a condominium. The lease was in effect when the owner’s conversion plan was accepted for filing by the state attorney general’s office. She has not received a copy of the offering plan. Her lease is up at the end of October, and the owner is offering to allow her to stay as a month-to-month tenant. She would like to look at the offering plan to determine whether she can afford to buy her apartment. What rights does she have?

A. Sandor Krauss, a Manhattan co-op and condominium lawyer, said that with noneviction-plan conversions — the most common form of conversion — state law gives existing tenants certain rights at the time that the conversion plan is accepted for filing by the attorney general’s office. Among them: the right to receive a copy of the offering plan; the exclusive right to buy the apartment for 90 days; the right to any “insider” discounts; and the right to decline the owner permission to “show” the apartment to potential buyers within the 90-day period.

If a tenant does not buy the apartment during the 90 days, the sponsor must offer a new lease, not a month-to-month lease at a market-rate rent. Mr. Krauss said that if the sponsor has not complied with those rules, the tenant can file an action in the courts or with the attorney general’s office requiring the owner to do so.

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