Most landlords are aware of the obligation to offer a rent-stabilized tenant a renewal lease, but some may be confused about how to proceed when a tenant does not — or refuses to — sign that renewal lease. This confusion might be a result of a 2012 law change.
Prior to 2012, the rent stabilization code permitted a landlord to deem a renewal lease offer renewed pursuant to the same terms and conditions of the prior lease, with any lawful rent adjustments or rent increases to which the landlord was entitled. This was a pragmatic solution for both landlords and tenants:
- Landlords were not burdened with the obligation to have to commence any holdover after the expiration of the lease.
- Tenants did not risk the possible forfeiture of their apartments simply because they forgot to execute a renewal lease they received.
But the problem with that resolution is that it was completely inconsistent with the real property law.
In 2012, this problem was addressed in Samson Mgt. LLC v. Hubert 28 misc. 3D 29, in the Appellate Division, Second Department. In Samson, the court ruled that the landlord could not deem the lease renewed. Following Samson, the rent stabilization code was amended so that the landlord no longer had the right to deem a lease renewed.
After the reforms to the rent stabilization code were enacted, the only avenue a landlord has if a tenant does not return a timely offer renewal lease is to commence a failure to renew holdover eviction proceeding in housing court.
Most of these cases resolve before an eviction takes place because the tenants usually end up signing the executed renewal lease — which may make the whole process seem like an incredible waste of time for the landlord. However, the landlord has no choice but to go forward with a failure-to-renew holdover case, because the landlord cannot deem a lease renewed for the reasons mentioned above. Nor can the landlord permit a rent-stabilized tenancy to exist on a month-to-month basis.
If the landlord does not have a valid lease in place, they may also be deprived of the opportunity to commence another valid case that requires the existence of a lease in place. Resolving this matter in a timely fashion is in the best interest of both parties.
Contact me with questions or comments.
Jordi Fernandez Law, P.C.
420 Lexington Avenue, Suite 2920
New York, NY 10170