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Illegal Sublet–New York City Tenants

If you want to sublet your rent stabilized apartment, you must first ask your landlord permission.  Your request can’t be in the abstract; you must give the owner the name of your proposed subtenant, the duration of the proposed sublease and a host of other details in order to be in compliance with the law (Real Property Law §226-b 2(b)).  If your request is in compliance with the legal requirements, your landlord cannot unreasonably deny you permission to sublet your apartment.  However, if you are granted permission to sublet, you must not charge the subtenant more than the legal rent plus an additional 10% if the apartment is furnished. (NYC Rent Stabilization Code § 2525.6 (b)).  Rent Stabilized apartments are intended to be used as the primary residence of the tenant and profiteering is not allowed.

Sometimes landlords accuse rent stabilized tenants of illegally subletting their apartments without any basis in an effort to evict them (unfortunately the current law pertaining to rent increases in rent stabilized apartments provides a financial incentive to landlords who turn over apartments frequently).  Having a roommate is not the same as subletting and you do not need to ask permission when someone moves in to you rent stabilized apartment with you.

When your landlord wants to evict you based on an accusation that you have breached some term of your lease, they must commence a summary holdover proceeding in housing court before they can evict you.  Before commencing a proceeding based on illegal sublet, your landlord must first serve you with a “notice to cure” to give you an opportunity to rectify the situation before the landlord files suit.

If you receive a notice to cure, it’s in your interest to act quickly.  Your name will appear on the tenant blacklist as soon as your landlord files a lawsuit against you.  Although it’s possible to have your name expunged from the tenant blacklist, it’s a time consuming process.  If possible, it’s best to consult with a lawyer at the first indication that your landlord is contemplating taking legal action against you.