Generally, tenants in rent stabilized apartments must be offered lease renewals. The New York State Division of Housing and Community Renwal (DHCR) provides a lease renewal form (Form RTP-8) that owners must use. For a copy of the form, click on the following link: http://nysdhcr.gov/Forms/Rent/rtp8.pdf. At the tenant's choice, the lease can be renewed for a term of one (1) or two (2) years. The respective rent increases a landlord is allowed to apply are set by the local Rent Guidelines Board. The lease renewal must be offered on the same terms and conditions as the prior lease, with some limited exceptions permitted by DHCR.
Proper way to send out lease renewals (in Westchester County):
Owners of Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA)-regulated apartments are legally obligated to provide at least two (2) copies of the "ETPA Renewal Lease Form" to tenants, by certified mail no more than 120 and not less than 90 days before the expiration of the tenant's current lease. Part "A" on the form should be fully completed by the owner with information specific to the tenant, including the approved rent increases from the local ETPA rent guidelines board. The owner is supposed to sign and date the lease renewal form prior to mailing it to the tenant(s) for signature. The form must be available in Spanish upon a tenant's request.
The tenant is supposed to complete Part "B" on the lease renewal (choosing a 1-year or 2-year renewal), sign the form, and return it to the landlord via certified mail within 60 days from receipt. See below for a discussion of the landlord's options if the tenants fail or refuse to sign and/or return the lease renewal to the landlord.
If the landlord fails to offer a lease renewal or file a current registration with DHCR for a tenant, the landlord is barred from collecting guideline increases. Tenants also have the right to file a complaint with DHCR against the landlord for failing to provide a timely lease renewal. The landlord could be subject to penalties and could be deprived of otherwise allowable rent increases.
Proper way to send out lease renewals (in the New York City boroughs):
A similar procedure as described above applies in NYC, however, the lease renewal is not signed by the landlord prior to sending it to the tenant, and it must be mailed to tenants or personally delivered not more than 150 and not less than 90 days before expiration of the current lease. In NYC, tenants have 60 days to return the completed, signed renewal to the landlord and can send it to the landlord via regular mail or personal delivery. The landlord must countersign the lease renewal upon receiving it back from the tenant, and then must send the tenant a fully executed copy within 30 days.
If the owner sends the lease renewal to the tenant less than 90 days from expiration of the tenant's lease, the lease term selected by the tenant shall begin at the tenant's option either (1) on the date a renewal lease would have begun had a timely offer been made or (2) on the first rent payment date occurring no less than 90 days after the date that the owner does offer the lease to the tenant.
What happens if a tenant fails or refuses to renew the lease?
If a tenant fails or refuses to sign and return the lease renewal timely, the landlord has several remedies. Failure by the tenant to timely sign and return the renewal to the owner is grounds for eviction and the landlord may commence legal proceedings (based upon RSC Section 2524.3(f)) after the existing lease term expires.
Assuming the owner elects to serve notices upon the tenant based on failure/refusal to renew the lease, and if the tenant fails to cure and/or vacate within the proscribed time frames, the landlord may commence a holdover proceeding in landlord-tenant court to attempt to remove the tenant. Generally, when an eviction proceeding is commenced based on failure or refusal to sign a lease renewal, the tenant will oftentimes sign the renewal late, and the courts will generally allow them to remain as tenants, however, depending on the court, in some circumstances, the tenants will be forced to vacate.
If the landlord wishes to avoid court intervention, a landlord may alternatively contact DHCR and request mediation related to a tenant's failure/refusal to sign the lease renewal. Mediation request forms are available at local rent offices.
Is there any time a tenant is not entitled to a lease renewal?
An owner of rent stabilized properties in Westchester County or New York City can refuse a lease renewal to a rent stabilized tenant for several reasons. Some of the most common and valid reasons for non-renewal are:
1) The owner or his/her immediately family needs the apartment for personal use as their primary residence. This may not apply if the tenant is a senior citizen or disabled; or
2) The apartment is not used as a tenant's primary residence; or
3) The owner takes the apartment off the rental market, either to demolish the building for reconstruction or use it for another purpose permitted by the law.
The landlord must give the tenant notice of the non-renewal in the time periods referenced above (150-90 or 120-90 days prior to the lease expiration).
The attorneys at James G. Dibbini & Associates, P.C. have extensive experience with landlord-tenant proceedings and DHCR issues.
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