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Rent Stabilized Apartment Overcharge

Discussion in 'Roomate & Joint Leases' started by averagelawyerjoe, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. averagelawyerjoe

    averagelawyerjoe Law Topic Starter New Member

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    New York
    I signed a sublease agreement with my current roommate for a room in the apartment. If my name is not on the original lease and the Tenant is living in the apartment with me, am i considered a subtenant or a roommate?

    I am paying more than half of the total rent for the apartment while living in the smaller room of a rent stabilized apartment in New York City. I am wondering if it is legal to charge me more than half the rent because of our agreement or if I am considered a roommate in a subsidized apartment and my rent should be capped at total rent divided by number of roommates?

    Thanks in advance for the advice!
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    In NYC some subsidized apartments -aka- tenant on the lease isn't allowed to rent to others not on the lease between the landlord and the person renting to others not on the lease.

    It might not be legal to rent to you.

    It's complicated and risky for both parties.

    Read this by the housing commission:

    Your Right To Have A Roommate | Metropolitan Council on Housing

    NY state roommate law, yeah, it's a thing:

    Legislative Information - LBDC

    It boils down to a paragraph or two:

    Do I have the right to have a roommate?

    If you live in a privately owned building, and

    If you are the only person who signed your lease (for rent control: if you are the only tenant of record),

    Then you have the right to share your apartment with one other adult not related to you, and that person’s dependent children.

    You do not have a right to a roommate if:

    • you live in public housing or most subsidized housing, or

    • if two or more people have signed the lease, and your lease does not expressly give you permission to live with an additional person.

    There are additional considerations if you receive a rent subsidy (such as Section 8 or FEPS) or a rent exemption (such as SCRIE or DRIE), or if your rent is based on your income. Most programs require that you report what the roommate pays in rent as part of your income. Failure to accurately report this income can be a serious violation of the program's rules and could lead to termination of the program as well as legal actions. Also, bringing in a roommate may make your income too high to remain eligible for the program.

    Check your program’s guidelines before taking in household members.

    Subsidized housing rarely allows roommates for a myriad of reasons.
    Michael Wechsler likes this.
  3. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    "Subtenant" is a term that has a specific, generally understood legal meaning. A "landlord" is a person who owns rental property. A "tenant" is a person who leases rental property from the landlord. A "subtenant" is a person who leases all or a portion of the leased property from the subtenant.

    "Roommate" is a colloquial term that has not meaning under the law. Generally speaking, a "roommate" is a person who lives with you.

    Sounds to me like you are both a tenant and a roommate.

    Yes, it's legal. Why would you agree to such an arrangement?

    Whether or not your sub-tenancy is legal is something I cannot say.
  4. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    The tenant cannot confer rights upon you he or she does not have. Being a tenant of the prime tenant but not the property owner is not a good place to be if you want stability, especially if it is in violation of your lease. Landlords often enjoy lease violations because it means they can eject a tenant with a right to rent for cause and move the apartment towards release of the rent-stabilization restrictions. And if you read the document about "roommates" you'll see that it describes both differently.

    Long ago I worked on a case where there was a similar situation with rooms being rented out under New York's rent-stabilization law. It was one of the most memorable I have ever worked on since it involved one of the tenants swearing he was homosexual and in a relationship with another man while he was technically still married... and we discovered a couple of pairs of tickets to tropical Islands for him and his wife during discovery. The judge had a difficult time keeping a straight face. It was an unusual case which we won and the tenants were ejected / evicted.

    Be careful with this and see an attorney if you want to know your ultimate rights.

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