If you’ve had your eye on a parent or grandparent’s rent-stabilized or rent-controlled apartment as a way to finally be able to afford to live in New York, you may have heard about succession rights. Let’s take a brief look at what these are (and aren’t).
First of all, a tenant cannot grant succession rights to someone simply via their will or other estate planning tool. There are requirements that have to be met.
Requirements for having succession rights
To succeed a tenant after they’ve died or moved, you typically must have lived with them continuously (with some exceptions) for a minimum of two years, since the tenant first moved in or since the beginning of your relationship with them. That time period is just one year if you are 62 or over or disabled.
Succession rights are generally granted to family members only. However, “non-traditional” family members can also qualify if they can prove that they had an “emotional and financial commitment.”
Claiming your succession rights
Your first step, if you qualify for succession rights, is to notify the landlord that you qualify to succeed the tenant. If they’ve passed away, you’ll need to provide a copy of the death certificate. You will continue on the lease until it is up and then be able to sign the new lease. The rent-stabilized or rent-controlled status will continue. If your family member is simply relocating, they can notify the landlord of your succession using the proper form before they go.
It’s crucial to be upfront with the landlord about your loved one no longer being in the apartment (whether they moved or died). Never try to let the landlord believe the other person is still around.
If you have succession rights under the law, the landlord should have no legal right to evict you because the previous tenant is no longer there. If you are having difficulty with getting the succession rights to which you’re entitled, it’s wise to seek legal guidance as soon as possible.