NYC passes Anti-Buyout Legislation: What this means for Tenants


Law Offices of Justin C. Brasch, Resources, NYC passes anti-buyout legislation. What this means for tenantsNYC apartments are always in high demand. Unscrupulous landlords have long tried to take advantage of this demand by forcing current tenants out of their rent-regulated units so they can raise the prices and secure new tenants. Landlords might resort to threat, coercion, neglect, or even buy out existing tenants in order to free up the unit.

In September 2015, NYC passed legislation that bars landlords from repeated buyout offers. Under the new law, landlords are barred from making repeated buyout offers within 6 months if the tenant refuses them. The law helps protect tenants from intimidation, harassment, and pressure from landlords and helps the city maintain areas of affordable housing.

Upping the rent on rent-stabilized units

Under state law, NYC landlords are perfectly within their rights to increase the rental price of vacant rent-stabilized units. The key word here is vacant. A landlord cannot automatically raise the price on rent-stabilized units that have an existing lease in place. In order to create a vacant unit, some landlords resort to threats and intimidation to get tenants to move out. Others offer buyouts.

The cost and hassle of trying to force tenants out or buy them out are worth it for some landlords with rents tripling in cost in some cases. But the long-term results are not usually so rosy for the tenants. Even five-figure buyouts, while welcomed by tenants at the time, are often not enough for the tenant to find and move into comparably priced units in the city. The money runs out far quicker than expected and tenants can end up worse off.

Protections under the new anti-buyout legislation

Landlords can already be fined up to $10,000 for harassing tenants. The new law adds some additional protections covered by three different measures.

  1. It is unlawful for an owner to make a buyout offer within 6 months of the tenant explicitly refusing one. This provision is an attempt to protect the tenant from constant and repeated harassment by a landlord who is attempting to buy them out.
  1. It is unlawful for an owner to threaten a tenant, contact the tenant at odd hours, or provide false information to a tenant in relation to a buyout offer.
  1. It is unlawful for an owner to make a buyout offer without informing tenants of their right to stay in their apartment, to seek an attorney’s advice, and to decline any future contact on a buyout offer for 180 days. This provision helps ensure tenants are aware of their rights when faced with a buyout offer, keeping the process fair and honest.

The provisions also protect tenants from “Tenant Relocators” hired by landlords to facilitate a buyout. Tenant Relocators have earned a bad reputation for using aggressive tactics to force tenants to move our or accept buyout offers just to get the harassment to stop.

Landlord penalties for violating the new law range from $1,000 for a first offense to $10,000 for subsequent offenses.

There is help for Tenants at Brasch Legal

Although it is easy to focus on the restrictions and penalties faced by landlords under the new law, there are additional components from which tenants benefit. Primary among those benefits is making tenants aware of the legal assistance that is available to them. Many tenants are unaware of or too intimidated to seek out legal assistance when faced with a buyout offer or harassment.

NYC has committed $50 million to free, anti-eviction legal services for tenants and has formed a Tenant Support Unit, which will target tenants in high-buyout risk buildings. The Unit will work with tenants to inform them of their rights, address housing code violations, and put them in contact with legal services.

For others, private landlord-tenant law attorneys can provide the advice and legal protection they need to fight harassment and buyout pressure. At Brasch Legal, we help tenants negotiate and understand their leases, negotiate buyouts, fight harassment, defend succession rights, and litigate landlord-tenant disputes.

If you are being harassed by your landlord or have been presented with a buyout offer and want an outside opinion on it, contact Brasch Legal at 212-267-2500. Arrange a consultation with one of our landlord-tenant law attorneys to discuss your situation today.

Top Author

Justin Brasch
Justin C. Brasch is the founding partner of the Law Offices of Justin C. Brasch and has practiced Landlord/Tenant and Leasing law for over 20 years. His areas of practice include Business & Commercial Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Landlord-Tenant, Leasing, New York City Building and Fire Code Violations, and Real Estate Law.Mr. Brasch has substantial experience and expertise litigating landlord-tenant and complex commercial and residential real estate disputes. Before establishing his firm in 1996, Justin Brasch was a litigation …

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