If My Lease Expired but I’m Still Paying Rent, Can I Be Kicked Out?

Q: I have been renting an apartment in an eight-unit building in Brooklyn for six years. After my initial one-year lease expired, I was never given a renewal. In all these years, my rent has never increased, which is remarkable in my trendy neighborhood where I’ve seen friends move out due to rent hikes. This has been an amazing deal, but in the back of my mind, I’ve always been nervous that I have no protection and the landlord could make me leave on a whim. What protections, if any, do I have?

A: Since your original lease ended, you have been living under a month-to-month rental agreement with your landlord based on the terms of your original lease. So, if your lease, say, included rules about noise or pets, those rules still apply. Each month that your landlord accepts your rent check, you have both agreed to continue the arrangement for another 30 days.

Should your landlord decide to raise your rent by more than 5 percent or ask you to move out, you will be protected by a New York State law that requires landlords to give market-rate tenants notice: 30 days for those who’ve lived in the apartment for less than a year; 60 days for those who’ve been there between one and two years; and 90 days for those who have lived there for two years or longer.

But you might have more protections. Your apartment might be rent-regulated, giving you all the rights of a rent-stabilized tenant, said David E. Frazer, a lawyer who represents tenants. You should find out. Contact the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the state agency that oversees rent regulated apartments. Either call the rent administration office at 718-739-6400 to ask for your rent history, or request the information online. Mr. Frazer suggested that you consult a lawyer about whatever you find, even if the information doesn’t prove that the apartment is regulated.

If you find that your apartment might be regulated, you don’t need to do anything with that information. Instead, hold onto it in the event that conditions change. Your landlord sounds like one who is “happy to have tenants who are quiet and happy and well-behaved and the check arrives every month,” Mr. Frazer said. “The problem is people get used to that, and someday they sell, and suddenly you’re at the mercy of the new owners who almost certainly are not going to have the same management business plan.”

If that day comes, and it turns out that you do have the rights of a regulated tenant, you can exercise those rights at that time.

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Christin Hakim

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