Succession rights are available to occupants of an apartment that is governed by rent stabilization or rent control laws. A right to succeed a tenancy needs a person to cohabitate with the tenant of record for two or more years prior to the tenant of record vacating. The co-occupancy requirement is reduced to one year if the person asserting succession rights is disabled or is sixty-two years or older. 

How to Qualify For Succession Rights

In order to qualify for succession rights as a traditional family member, the tenant must be one of the following: spouse, child, step-child, parent, step-parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law, or child-in-law of the former tenant of record. Any other occupant would have to prove that the relationship with the primary tenant was characterized by an emotional and financial commitment and interdependence with the tenant.

Some tenants who qualify as a successor, through lack of knowledge regarding succession rights, sign a lease in the name of the primary tenant although the actual tenant vacated. This practice can continue for several leases as the remaining occupant is unaware of the laws regarding succession. In some courts, this practice can be detrimental as they may interpret the action of signing a lease when the primary tenant vacated as deceiving the landlord. The Court will also consider how many leases were signed and the time period the leases covered. In other Courts, signing leases in the name of the primary tenant will be deemed insignificant if there is no prejudice to the landlord. In most cases, the Court will deem the landlord has not been prejudiced if the occupant can prove he/she was entitled to succession rights aside from signing leases.

How to Assert Succession Rights Properly

It is good practice to immediately alert the landlord if the primary tenant is vacating and you want to assert succession rights. Provide documents such as a driver’s license, utility bills, bank account statements, tax documents and voter registration as proof of occupation of the apartment for the requisite time period. Also provide proof of a familial relationship to establish your qualifications as a family member. Upon sufficient proof provided most landlords will offer you a lease in lieu of a costly court proceeding.

Find Out How our New York Firm Can Assist You

At Outerbridge Law P.C. in New York City, we provide experienced legal support to clients in a range of residential and commercial real estate matters. To arrange a consultation, please call us at 212-364-5593 or contact us online.