If you are a tenant who is the subject of repeated buyout offers from your landlord, Mayor de Blasio’s signature on new legislation, making such actions illegal, should be a source of relief. In September 2015, the mayor signed legislation that provides three different measures of protection for tenants, in relation to buyout offers:
- It is now unlawful for an owner to make a buyout offer within 180 days of a tenant explicitly refusing a previous offer.
- It is now unlawful for an owner, in connection with a buyout offer, to threaten a tenant, to contact tenants at odd hours, or to provide false information to a tenant.
- It is now unlawful for an owner to make a buyout offer without informing tenants of their rights to stay in their apartment, to seek an attorney’s advice, and to decline any future contact on a buyout offer for 180 days.
Now, you may be wondering how a simple buyout offer can be considered harassment. It’s not the offer in and of itself that is considered harassing, it is the actions some landlords take in relation to the offer and afterward if an offer has been rejected, that lead many to demand stronger protections for tenants.
Contact Brasch Legal for help with buyouts
If you need assistance with a buyout offer, contact Brasch Legal. We have worked in the field of landlord-tenant law for over 20 years and bring years of experience negotiating buyouts. We have helped many tenants get substantially higher amounts in buyouts. Just call (212) 267-2500 or email [email protected] for assistance with your buyout.
There are many, many ways the actions of landlords can turn buyout offers into conduct considered harassing and threatening under the new protections:
- Repeat offers. Prior to the 2015 legislation, it was not uncommon for landlords to make buyout offers repeatedly to tenants who had already refused them. This repeated and frequent contact quickly progressed to the point of harassment in many cases. Landlords would contact tenants at all hours, at home, or at work. Some landlords even hired “relocation specialists” or “tenant relocators” to do the dirty work for them, tracking down tenants down and constantly making buyout offers to them.
- Threats. Another form of harassment related to buyouts is threats. Threats and intimidation often accompany buyout offers, particularly if the tenants are unaware of their rights, do not speak English, or continuously refuse offers. Sometimes tenants are threatened with lawsuits or jail time if they do not accept buyout offers, even though there is no legal basis for these actions. Threatening harassment like this is one of the primary concerns the new legislation is meant to prevent.
- Service disruption. Yet another form of harassment employed by unscrupulous landlords comes in the form of service disruption. In an effort to make conditions unbearable for tenants who refuse buyout offers, landlords fail to make needed repairs, ignore tenant requests, disrupt utility access, and in some cases even lock tenants out of their units.
- Withholding information. Landlords would withhold important information that could induce a tenant to say no to a buyout offer had they known about it. For example, anyone in a rent-stabilized unit has a right to refuse the buyout offer and stay in their unit. They also have the right to an attorney and, now, are protected from being offered a buyout more than once every 6 months.
The one thing all of these actions have in common is the ability to make the tenant feel overwhelmed and even fearful in their own home. And that is harassment.
Landlords must proceed with caution
NYC has a strong interest in keeping neighborhoods affordable because it keeps the City more affordable. The new laws did not change anything except make existing statutes less forgiving in relation to buyout offers. Now, landlords must be more careful about even having a simple conversation about the possibility of making a buyout offer with their tenant. Otherwise, they risk it being misconstrued as an offer and, possibly, harassment.
The fines for such harassment range from $1,000 to $10,000 for first offenses and from $2,000-$10,000 for subsequent offenses. Landlords must proceed cautiously to protect themselves and navigate this new situation.
A Landlord-Tenant attorney can guide you through a buyout process
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant who is involved in a buyout, the advice and guidance of a landlord-tenant attorney can be invaluable. Such attorneys specializing in landlord-tenant and real estate law can help you determine the best course of action to take. At Brasch Legal, we help landlords determine fair buyout offers before they ever approach their tenants. This reduces the chances of a tenant refusing the offer and delaying the process for another 6 months before the landlord can legally approach the tenant again.
Tenants are often unaware of their legal rights in buyout situations. We help tenants understand their rights, advise them of their options, evaluate buyout offers, and even negotiate buyouts on their behalf. If a tenant is being harassed we can help them file a complaint and take action against the landlord so they can live their lives in peace.
If a buyout offer is accepted, we are able to facilitate the transaction, ensuring everyone knows their rights and responsibilities and sticks to the agreement.
Contact Brasch Legal for buyout assistance
Ultimately, whether or not an offer is accepted comes down to tenant and landlord motivations and capabilities. If you have been presented with a buyout offer and aren’t sure what to do, or want to know if the offer is fair contact the tenant attorneys at Brasch Legal for advice.
We have worked in the field of landlord-tenant law for over 20 years and bring years of experience negotiating a buyout. We have helped many tenants get substantially higher amounts.
To discuss your buyout situation and learn more about our landlord-tenant law services, please contact the team at Brasch Legal today at 212-267-2500 or online by clicking here or visit www.braschlegal.com.