Is It Worth the Risk to Sublet an Apartment Illegally?

Oct 29, 2022 · 176 comments
mls (nyc)
While it is unwise to violate coop rules, and yes, the tenant would be discovered as this is a doorman building, and board members may also recognize the tenant, it is not 'illegal'. Violating a coop rue is not the same as violating a law.
Winter Soldier (Manhattan)
It would appear that the co-op has a rule that allows subletting, but it is limited in time, say, two years, etc. And the time limit, in this case, has expired with the letter writer's lease. I say, don't continue to sublet illegally. do it. There are too many risks, as the experts and many of the comments, have pointed out. But, you are in an excellent position!!! Take advantage of it!!! I suggest that the letter writer continue to live in the apartment but stop paying rent. The owner of the apartment is still liable for the maintenance to the co-op (and any mortgage on the apartment). So the co-op board won't hassle you. The only person to bother you is the owner and she is living abroad. She will have to evict you. That takes a long time and will be especially difficult living abroad. You could drag it out for over a year, and all the while you are living rent free. Either the owner living abroad will forgo all arrearages or maybe sell the apartment to you cheap in order to get out of this mess. I suggest that you take advantage of the owner's troubles.
Vivian (Memphis)
Hard to imagine the co-op board has no recourse in this situation except to go after the apartment owner.
Winter Soldier (Manhattan)
@Vivian If the tenant is behaving themselves vis-a-vis other residents of the Co-Op, what does the Co-0p really care about except for their self-serving image as an exclusive Co-Op? The Co-Op is getting its full pound of flesh (i.e. maintenance) from the owner. The owner, in turn, always knew she was liable to the C0-Op for the maintenance. If the owner of the apartment stops paying her maintenance, the Co-Op will foreclose against the owner. There are no surprises here. The owner should have anticipated she is renting to a deadbeat. It's the same risk any landlord takes.
Cascia (greater NYC area)
@Winter Soldier what awful advise - to screw the person that owns the apartment for your own benefit. I mean the owner will be in a bind anyway but this advise is terrible.
Frank Perkins (Maine)
About a half century ago when i lived in NYC and attended college there it was the custom to, when you wanted to move, simply hand the key over to a friend and instruct him/her : "Just write a check in this ($XXX.XX) amount and mail it to ABC Management Co. every month and you will be fine.
Swimmer (Long Island)
@Frank Perkins That is probably still true for buildings without a doorman although you run the risk that your tenant just decides not to pay.
SG (Manhattan)
@Frank Perkins Those days are long gone. Every landlord scrutinises every rent stabilized tenant 's rent check to make sure it matches the name on the lease. If not, eviction proceedings are begun.
HobbitMom (New England)
So not only does this renter assume that no one is monitoring the situation after their lease extension was rejected; they're assuming that no one on the co-op board reads the New York Times.
mpless (New York, New York)
Worth it imo
Carmela Sanford (Niagara Falls, New York)
I am unfamiliar with NYC housing rules. Things are more amiable here in western New York state. Landlords, co-op partners, and neighbors on a building’s specific floor would be thrilled to keep a good sub-letting tenant. My question is this, if anyone has the answer, can’t she move out and then return after a specific amount of time, even if it’s only after 30 days?
Bella72 (NYC)
Nope. Typically owners are only allowed to sublet for a TOTAL of 2 years, not 2 years per tenant.
Winter Soldier (Manhattan)
It occurred to me in reading this letter and the comments, that there are probably plenty of Co-Op owners subletting their apartments from time to time. Of course, the Co-Op owner is still liable to the Co-Op for the maintenance. Not all of the maintenance is tax deductible. Only the property tax portion. The remaining portion is not. When the subletting tenant pays rent to the landlord (i.e., the Co-Op owner), the subletting tenant is no doubt in effect reimbursing the Co-Op owner for ALL of the maintenance and, given the current market rents, probably paying something in addition. In other words, isn't everything that the Co-Op owner receives from the subletting tenant INCOME? I just wonder how many Co-Op owners/landlords are declaring this rent as income? If there is a tax lawyer out there that can correct me, please do so. If there is a Co-Op owner/landlord that has their version of the typical situation, please advise.
Milo (CA)
How does the board distinguish between a renter, and a caretaker or close friend?
JH (Manhattan)
@Milo Each coop has its own rules, and the rules about who can stay in a coop are usually very specific: immediate family and, in this case, short-term tenant. Friends can stay only when the coop owner is present and there would be no role for a caretaker.
Tai L (Brooklyn)
Wow, do not do this! I live in a rent stabilized place in Brooklyn and nothing gets by my porter, let alone my super and the building association.
Tex Murphy (NYC)
Somewhat off-topic, but I couldn't resist checking out the link to the Gap ad... which led me down the rabbit hole of reading that entire 1989 issue of New York Magazine. My goodness, what a walk down memory lane - talk about nostalgia!
Ralph Petrillo (NYC)
Ether way it sounds like a waste of money to overplan .
WhoinvitedDiscussion (Texas)
The security folks will likely just lock you out of the flat- and this can be done with frightening speed in NYC- think, while you're doing laundry in the basement- and the negotiation will be brutal. Weirdly, you may even be encouraged to call the police to get your things. Think that nightmare through for 5 seconds. Very bad idea, this, as many have also said.
SF Atty (San Francisco)
@WhoinvitedDiscussion This is a horror story that just plain old isn't true. I've done landlord tenant law, as attorney, in New York. Especially condos who pride themselves on bylaws and the law, would not do this. They'd face fines and criminal charges (potentially). They always file a lawsuit first. Always.
Winter Soldier (Manhattan)
@WhoinvitedDiscussion No. The tenant is presently a lawful tenant, not a trespasser. If she remains but stops paying rent she is simply in arrears and the matter at that point is a civil action in housing court for back rent or eviction. It's called due process.
Vivian (Memphis)
Dear LW, Yikes! Start looking for a new place now. Three things: 1) Even if you skulk around with supreme skill, evading other residents entirely, the doormen and the super are the eyes and ears of the building. You are so busted. 2) It sounds like your overseas landlord has no idea of the legal peril she is putting herself in. Other commenters have given thoughtful (and scary) summaries of this jeopardy. The good news for you is that it is not YOUR problem. But you need to move out by the end of the lease so you cannot be looped into HER problems in any legal or financial way. 3) Yeah, yeah, easy for me to tell you to move out ASAP, as if that’s easy to do in New York. I’m too old and too far away to offer useful advice. But don’t be fooled; even though your situation doesn’t involve vermin / lack of heat or hot water / broken appliances / thuggish rent collectors, it is dire.
Another New Yorker (Another NYC Co-op)
I feel both uplifted and frustrated reading some of the comments here. I am observing some well meaning people, who seem to have no knowledge or experience as New York City co-op shareholders or board members, make creative suggestions, that in another context, might be helpful. For better or worse, the unique norms and powers afforded to Co-ops in New York City do not enable such creative solutions to be implemented. And so I both admire the suggestions, and shake my head at the ignorance. There is no deed; just a proprietary lease. There is no owner; just a shareholder [in this case, the landlord]. There are no exceptions for co-op rules. You can try to change co-op rules, but it's a long slow process. It is what it is.
SF Atty (San Francisco)
@Another New Yorker I agree with your assessment! And, at the end of the day, at least from the stated facts in the article, it sounds like maybe the shareholder is breaking the rules. Even if something could be legally challenged, my knowledge of co-ops is there is a good chance the letter writer is going to be stuck (shareholder landlord, too). The rules are the rules, and when you try to flout them, nothing good comes next.
CT (NYC)
This wins the award for dumbest idea ever. I’m surprised the coop owner even thinks it’s possible. Doormen know everything and see everything. Same for the Super. They’ll know through management that you should be gone and will rightfully say something.
SF Atty (San Francisco)
@CT You are correct, they do know everything. However, I have litigated cases (in favor of the tenant) in NYC, and it's quite common for local staff to look the other way, and continue to do so for lengthy periods of time under the auspices that, welp, the problem is between you and the landlord. It's different: the kindness extended on the ground. Too, though, if any staff were put to task to answer honestly, they will, that is a risk the letter writer should not take.
Cindy (Seattle, WA)
This is likely to land squarely on the landlord. I'm on the board of my condo association, and we know it's futile to try to go after renters for anything so we make the unit owner responsible for everything that goes on in their unit whether they live there or not. We find that it give the owners incentive to find good, responsible tenants, especially since the association rules allow us to file a lien against the owner's unit for unpaid fines, which in the past has resulted in owners being unable to sell or refinance their units until the fines were paid. We would even be allowed to take possession and sell the unit if there was enough in arrears, although it has never gone that far. Most associations have similar rules, and no matter how good of a tenant the letter writer is, I don't think there's any way the her landlord is going to want to risk all of the potential penalties in order to keep them.
nerdrage (SF)
@Cindy Seatlle (like SF) has rules that makes it tough to evict a tenant after 30 days. They can stop paying rent and just stay for a long legal fight. Not sure about NYC but seems like it would be a tenant-friendly place. The LW should check into their legal protections that transcend co-op rules. But the landlord is not the (potential) enemy here. The landlord would let the tenant stay, it's the co-op board that might be the problem. But we don't even know that much. Maybe the co-op board doesn't want a fight either.
Suzanne Stroh (Virginia)
As a FEMA field inspector seeing firsthand the devastation to renters after Hurricane Ian I say, not in a hurricane zone or a flood zone.
Cert (Central California)
Finally, advice I agree with. I would add, when someone violates a rule, a term of contract, deliberately, when there options to avoid that violation, he or she is raising a sword against the other party(s) of the agreement. Forget about the time consuming grief you will experience, just remember, can you hold that heavy sword day and night during your tenancy? If not, get out in good condition.
Jeff (Brooklyn, NY)
Tough in a doorman coop building. In almost every other case however, it’s as common as jaywalking in NYC. In the restaurant and service industries, many folks pay rent with an envelope full of cash.
TonyD (NC)
@Jeff Probably the local mafia doing the under the table payments.
Pete in Downtown (back in town)
That's one of the many reasons why, if you're a Co-op shareholder/owner, you really, really want to have your co-op building explore conversion to Condominiums. It's time consuming and expensive (legal fees, amongst others), but there are excellent reasons why the same apartment, with no work done whatsoever, is worth about 25-30% more once it's a condominium. This situation here is one of them.
tom (nyc)
@Pete in Downtown Just curious, why would you want strangers living in your condominium? I love living in a Coop where I can have a say in who lives in the building.
JoanP (Chicago)
@Pete in Downtown - Hate to break it to you, but condominiums also have rules restricting leasing.
JoanP (Chicago)
@Pete in Downtown - Condos have rules against renting, too.
Pet Peeve (Somewhere in the general vicinity of NYC)
After reading most of these responses I've come to the conclusion that most commenters have no familiarity with co-ops, or at least NYC co-op apartments. Co-ops have some real disadvantages and co-op boards can be annoying, but they exist and when you buy into one you agree to the terms. You can run for the board and try to effect change but it's slow and policies like the subtle rules are pretty standard and almost immutable. The short version: what the worst that can happen to the renter? They get thrown out. They could be fined or brought to court if they are considered as a trespassers or if they violate even the most minute rule that owners get away with.
Smotri (Borough of Manhattan)
@Pet Peeve Exactly. One of the reasons why I like living in a co-op is because I know there are no things like Airbnb going on in the building.
SF Atty (San Francisco)
@Pet Peeve Exactly. However, if it came time to enforce, the letter writer would be named, and there is a black list (like a credit check for landlords). They do not follow up re the black list whether the tenant won (so, frivolous lawsuits are still mud on the tenant's face). And it hinders future renting. I hate the list, but it exists. It's not as no big a deal as many other commenters suggest. Also, in all the cases I've done in NYC: co-op boards can be intrusive and micro-managing, but they can also be incompetent, meaning, not even with intention, drain the funds to the let-down of the shareholders. As you acknowledge in your comment: it's complicated.
helton (nyc)
As someone who served on my co-op board for 25 years, this situation is dangerous on so many levels. If I knew of this situation and did nothing, I’d be violating my legal and ethical responsibility as a board member. Since it’s also a doorman building, other shareholders will find out. When they do, the board will lose credibility and trust, thereby rendering us dead in the water as a board. Finally, by doing nothing when the truth was there for all to see, we’d be guilty of not treating all shareholders equally. That will expose the co-op board to potential legal ramifications. But, go ahead with this game plan. 🙄
Justin (Colorado)
okay you didn’t answer the question of is it worth you you just said “it’s illegal” and moved swiftly forward
Jennifer (Anywhere)
The doorman telling the board is a pretty big risk.
Reggie L (Seattle, WA)
@Justin Isn't being "illegal" enough that it would NOT be a good thing? Does someone have to be explicitly advised that doing something illegal is NOT advisable??!
mjciv (Boston)
@Justin we must have read different responses. 1) The board wants the renter out. 2) The board will know the renter is still there. 3) The board has the power to make the renter's life miserable. Based on (1) and (2), there is a real chance they will exercise these powers. TLDR: Sure it's disallowed, but on top of that, there's too much risk that it ends badly. Better to move out on your own terms than get forced out by your neighbors and landlord.
MacK (Washington DC)
My career has been international - but I also know people who have had intra-US assignments for long periods. It’s not unusual in certain professions, for diplomats and the military. For this reason co-ops are a particularly unattractive housing option - if you get a distant assignment it may be impossible to rent-out the property in your “home city,” but, at the same time any buyer will have to go through the co-op board process and may be inexplicably turned down. The board members can be obnoxiously pompous. I remember joining a friend in Washington DC to look at a co-op named “the Broadmoor” - the co-op board lady showing us around was really quite snotty, affected and my friend rapidly concluded she wasn’t interested… which left me to ask the question: “Why is the building named after a hospital for the criminally insane?” “What!” “It’s where the Brit's lock up their serial killers” Her expression was quite priceless…
anonymous (Washington DC)
@MacK At least one of the front- desk employees was no better: circa 2005 the two of us on this account went to an open-house in this building. Apparently the open house had been canceled on short notice as the property had gone under contract. As I approached the desk, the older woman behind it barked out "What do you people want?" I was speechless. I did not care for the building anyway, but the Broadmoor lost my business forever. I bought a condo shortly afterward.
AnnaT (PA)
Good advice. And for heaven's sakes, it's "responsible for its legal fees," not "it's."
Tim (New York, NY)
“Depending on the terms of the agreement you signed with your landlord…” Yeah, but what if there isn’t a written agreement?
Pet Peeve (Somewhere in the general vicinity of NYC)
@Tim If the renter was there legally for two years as granted by the co-op rules, there had to be a written agreement If someone requested an extension of a two year rental that was never approved in writing in the first place, they'd be thrown out immediately.
Tim (New York, NY)
@Pet Peeve I don’t think you’re correct. No one would know about the non-written agreement because you wouldn’t tell the co-op board because you already know what they would say. So how is the board going to throw the renter out for not having a written agreement?
JoanP (Chicago)
@Tim - There's a lease. There is no such thing as a non-written lease.
EA (New York City)
Pay off the doorman and keep it on the hush.
SF (NYC)
@EA The board members most likely live in the building, and they will notice that this guy is still there after his sublet was supposed to end.
Mabel Greenwood (NYC)
@EA Aren't doormen in a union? Why would they jeopardize their career for a tip? This person has to move, period. The End.
Virginia (Manhattan)
@EA Such an arrangement *might* work but to my mind only in a pretty rare situation where the tenant or owner already had ample reason to believe that it would, for example because he knew that other people in the building had been doing this. But also: "the" doorman -- there's pretty much no such thing. There are at least two shifts every day, 8-4 and 4-midnight, sometimes 3. Which means at least 3 doormen (a doorman works a five-day week).
Mark (New York)
This is why I hate co-ops -- the board is made up of power-hungry people who happen to live in the building and the "rules" are completely arbitrary and nonsensical. My advice to this person is find a condo owner to sublet from -- there are no such ridiculous rules in condos.
JoanP (Chicago)
@Mark - I hate to break it to you, but condos have rules against renting units as well. My condo building is even more restrictive that this co-op.
DJS (New York)
@Mark "There are no such ridiculous rules in condos." How did you come to believe that ? I owned a condo for 19 years. Condo board members are no different from co-op board members. I had to sell my condo to escape those lunatics. and I'm not the only non- board member who sold in order to escape.
Shaun (Passaic NJ)
@Mark To each his/her own. Co-ops aren't for everyone, and occasionally some board members act as you described. Generalized negative comments are a gross mischaracterization of co-ops and the hard work board members do (without any compensation). Board members are running a corporation on behalf of residents/members. The policies being enforced are part of the bylaws and rules legally established for the co-op. One upside is co-ops weathered the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis owning to stringent financial policies. Don't like the policies, run for the board if eligible or advocate for change. With regard to sublets, the sublessee and the apartment owner were aware of and agreed to the policy relating to sublets. The inconvenience of their situation doesn't mean the co-op is acting unfairly. Co-op residents buy in to have a stable, financially sound form of ownership (and some condos also have sublease policies). Owners do not purchase and hold mortgages in a co-op because they wish to live in a rental building. A large percentage of investor units and sublets can jeopardize the ability of current and future residents to obtain mortgages, refinancing or equity loans. In any case, the renter and landlord should not attempt to rent under the table - perhaps appeal the board's decision based on hardship. Co-ops exist successfully in countries around the world and especially in New York which has the first and second largest co-ops in the world. Hope renter finds a solution.
Peter (CT)
No. Do you think you are the first person to try this? How dumb do you think the coop board is?? Do you think they won’t be asking the doorman if you are still coming in and out of the building? Do you think the doorman will lie to protect you rather than tell the truth and protect his job? The law exists to make it crystal clear that you should not do the thing you are thinking of doing. If your calculation of the risk/benefit ratio makes it seem like a good idea, your calculations are off.
teresa (Eugene, Oregon)
How does it serve the other condo owners to have that non-renewal policy? Wouldn't lease renewals be a good thing - less turnover, more stability, etc? The apartment can be sub-let by the owner, but that sub-let can't be renewed? Why? Frustrating. I'll read it again, but I don't get it ... sigh.
Jennifer (NJ)
Coops want owner occupied apartments, not renters. So after 2 years the owners needs to move back in or sell.
LL (Oakland)
@teresa When you read the question again, you'll see that the unit in question is in a co-op building; it isn't a condominium. As others have noted, co-op boards are very unpredictable, to put it mildly.
Pet Peeve (Somewhere in the general vicinity of NYC)
@teresa Coops (not condos, which are a different legal entity) expect the owner to live there, not sublet. Allowing any kind of sublet is a courtesy acknowledging that sometimes the owner needs to be away for a limited amount of time. Long term renters may be good for rental buildings or even condos but not necessarily for coops.
Judith (Reality)
What are you thinking? The request to extend the lease has been rejected. The doormen know everything that happens and very likely report to the board. How is this going to stay 'under the table'? Stop trying to get someone else to buy into your questionable rationalization and find a new apartment.
nerdrage (SF)
Sheesh I dunno...bribe the doorman to look the other way? Pretend you're good friends with somebody else in the building and always visiting? Disguise yourself with a scarf and big sunglasses a la Jackie O? That could be fun. What could the co op do to the landlord anyway? Do you know the co op is on the ball and will lower the boom on the landlord quickly or will they be lax and clueless? There have been letters here about co ops before and some are definitely more on the ball than others. Just accept this situation for now but don't sign any documents. "Under the table" sounds like a no-signature deal to me. Then start looking around for a better situation while you wait and see how the current situation pans out.
Another New Yorker (Another NYC Co-op)
@nerdrage In response to your question, "What could the co op do to the landlord anyway?" The answer is: a lot - including - kick the landlord [aka the shareholder] out of their own property. Under certain circumstances, co-op boards in NYC have the power to evict shareholders (in this case, the landlord) if they engage in "objectionable conduct." "Objectionable" is subjective and can be defined by the co-op itself. From NYCBar.Org: https://www.nycbar.org/get-legal-help/article/landlord-tenant/co-ops-condos-and-lofts/. "Co-op boards have a lot of freedom in deciding how to run their buildings and whether to evict a tenant for objectionable conduct.  The Housing Court usually will not second-guess the board’s decision when it has decided to terminate a tenant/shareholder’s lease for objectionable conduct." The shareholder/landlord knew (or at least, should have known) what they were getting themselves into when the rented out their co-op unit to a renter. The renter should find another place to live.
Ira Leviton (New York)
The standard for this type of sublet is two years. Going beyond that, there are federal tax consequences - to the owner - on the income received. That's one of the reasons that it's two years everywhere. I haven't seen this mentioned yet in the comments, but it's another reason not to do this. And by the way, what kind of answers do you expect in a column like this, from lawyers publicly commenting about whether to do something illegal - of course the advice is going to be not to do it. But I've noticed different answers from commenters who don't use their real name.
Erik (Nyc)
A US citizen living abroad will most likely pay no taxes after the foreign income exclusion.
nerdrage (SF)
@Ira Leviton There's so much unknown here. Will the doorman rat out the tenant? Has the tenant been generous with tips and gifts? Maybe time to start currying some favor. How on the ball is the co op board anyway? The tenant probably doesn't know. Extending the tenancy under the table is one test. Maybe the LW will luck out with a clueless co op board.
Swimmer (Long Island)
@Ira Leviton You are right that there is a tax issue which is not mentioned but it is not the one you think it is. A co-op pays one property tax on the entire building which is then divided up between the tenants with the owner-occupier discount. A condo owner pays his own property tax so his status can be checked.
Drew (Columbus, OH)
Yeah, don't do it. When I first moved to NYC, we illegally subletted from someone who took our check and didn't pay the rent. We kept getting past due notices at the apartment and eventually came home to a seizing the property sticker on the door. I stopped paying the person I was subletting the apartment from and then they came to "rough me up" for not paying the rent with their large friend. While they were in the apartment, I got a call confirming the terms of my first salaried job after a long slog, and had to brace the door to keep the psychos out. I tricked them and escaped the situation to my friend's basement floor, and then the YMCA in Chelsea for a short while (yeah, that one, but full of folks from Bellevue, so hard to rest there). So don't illegally sublet in a non-doorman building from strangers, they have all of the control.
FrenchyT (Brookline, MA)
If a tenant is decent and doesn't cause trouble what is the rationale for a non-renewal provision? This could easily be used as a pretext for racial or gender discrimination. If the lease holder is a person of color or any protected person under NY laws I would challenge that provision in court. Also, what about moving out for a month (hotel, friend) and then moving back with a new lease. Wouldn't this be a new lease, not a renewal? I find that non-renewal provision offensive.
true blue (east)
@FrenchyT Co-op have rules. That is what the owner of the shares agreed to.
Pet Peeve (Somewhere in the general vicinity of NYC)
@FrenchyT Why is nonrenewal "offensive"? Coops are not intended to be occupied by multiple consecutive renters. Some buildings don't allow any sublets. Some allow them in in limited circumstances such as a temporary work assignment where the owner needs to be out of town. Coops are not suitable for everyone's taste but if you choose to buy in, you need to understand and abide by the rules. How is that offensive?
Barbara (Westchester, NY)
@FrenchyT The rationale: Coop Boards don't want to establish a long-term relationship with someone who is not a share holder and will therefore not be responsible for or be motivated to maintain the apartment. That is why we have rental apartments. This has nothing to do with discrimination. Also, a holder of an illegal lease will not want to reveal his presence by reporting a problem (such as a leak from outside the apartment that the coop is responsible to repair. Such a situation could result in damage to other parts of the building.
MamaDoc (N.C.)
Perhaps the landlord could ask for a finite extension --- citing hardship -- she's abroad and cannot return for X time. Perhaps that would tide you over until you get a new board.
Pet Peeve (Somewhere in the general vicinity of NYC)
@MamaDoc Why do you assume that there will be a new board anytime soon? Anyway changing basic provisions of a coop's terms is not a matter of a some new blood coming in and upending things.
Mac (chicago, IL)
It's the tenant who is asking for advice, so it's not pertinent to point out the risks to the landlord. And the word "illegally" is loaded. It's not a crime, as far as I know. It's just a violation of association rules, which leads to consequences to the owner of the coop. There may be a 24-hour doorman, but, if it is like most buildings, residents have access via key to an entrance which is not monitored by a doorman. If so, a tenant who is willing to be low key, avoid doorman or asking for building services might well be advised to work out a deal with the owner. A large discount would be appropriate because the tenant won't have the luxury of full services and the owner is not otherwise going to get any rent at all. Perhaps 50% would be fair. This could be a win/win for tenant and owner. Further, there is nothing morally wrong with this. The association rule against tenants is based on a notion that tenants who have no stake in the building will be unduly troublesome. But, the tenant is this case must be exceptionally quiet and undemanding. Just the sort of ideal that the Coop wants. So, it's really a win/win/win all the way around. Sometimes rules are meant to be broken if in breaking the rule, the purpose of the rule is aided rather than hindered.
VK (Manhattan, NY)
All tenants are known to doormen, owners and renters.Using back doors ("most" buildings in NYC don't actually have back/side/staff entrances) would make it even more suspicious.
Pet Peeve (Somewhere in the general vicinity of NYC)
@Mac "It's the tenant who is asking for advice, so it's not pertinent to point out the risks to the landlord." You're kinda right, But if the coop shareholder is at risk, that may affect their willingness to skirt the rules. And if the coop pursues actions against them, then the tenant is the one who can be thrown out. So it helps to understand the back story.
tom (nyc)
@Mac you obviously don't live in Manhattan. Coops don't want longterm renters for many reasons and every shareholder must obey the rules. Period.
Frank (NYC)
Easy solution: tell the coop board that you are a long-term house guest who is watching the apartment while the owner is abroad. Have the landlord even document a nominal payment to you (outlined in a signed service contract), then funnel the money plus rent back to the landlord through cash or cryptocurrency. Switch insurance etc. to the landlord.
Sam Himmelstein (Brooklyn)
In other words commit fraud which could result in civil liability and criminal charges.
Frank (NYC)
@Sam Himmelstein Good luck proving it without becoming subject to a harassment countersuit. The tenant is not problematic and the coop board is most likely doing what petty people do when given a taste of power.
Swimmer (Long Island)
@Frank Long term house guests are never permitted in a co-op.
Alan (Worldwide)
Asking the real state specialist: what if the person who lives abroad (landlord) issues a notarized letter allowing the person to live there as long as they want, without any costs charged or payments? Is there any impediment or restriction in this scenario? Depending on what the landlord does for a living and where they live, they could issue an invoice abroad for "services rendered as a consultant", payment by transfer (Wise or any other fintech) and life goes on, as long as they can somewhat prove that those activities are definitely independent from one another.
PM (NYC)
@Alan - You need to research what a co-op apartment is. If you knew anything about co-ops, you would know why none of these measures would be accepted.
Swimmer (Long Island)
@Alan Long term house guests are never allowed. 30 days is generally the maximum. More than that requires co-op board approval and generally an interview.
Evan (Miami, FL)
Maybe now allowed, but if tenant creates a rent-to-own arrangement and landlord willing to add tenant name to deed, that may work perhaps
JoanP (Chicago)
@Evan - a) the unit owner does not want to sell the apartment b) putting this person's name on the deed gives that person ownership. The current owner would be crazy to do that.
Pet Peeve (Somewhere in the general vicinity of NYC)
@Evan Coops don't have "deeds" You don't technically own the apartment, just a proportionate number of shares of the building's stock. Adding a shareholder still has to be run by the board. And unless the tenant is in the coop "owner's" will, why on earth would they give away half the rights to ownership?
Lawrence (Washington D.C.)
There is already bad blood if the board refused to extend your lease. Or it could just be money. The number of renters may effect the sale of units, and their financing. Start looking today, line up movers, log your search, so that if you slightly, very slightly overstay you will have shown to be acting in good faith. "Whoever you are... I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."Blanche Dubois. It is not a good bet to make.
Valley Girl (NorCal)
If you have to ask (yourself or another) whether it is okay to do something illegally, you have bigger issues than needing to find another apartment.
Bocheball (New York City)
I agree this is dangerous for both the owner and tenant and is easily enforceable as the tenant and owner are breaking the rules. I exchange my rent stabilized apt. for one in a European city constantly, with different tenants each time, and for generally less than 3 months. No money ever exchanges hands. I don't tell the landlord, but she knows. I have never had a problem. If pressed I would say they are friends. However, the building was just sold, and the new landlord immediately put cameras in all the hallways, so they can see who's coming and going. I often wonder if I'm at risk of losing my lease?
Sarah (NYC)
@Bocheball I am not your lawyer; this is not legal advice. But one renter to another, it's legal to sublet a rent-stabilized apartment with the consent of the landlord, and the kicker is that the landlord can't unreasonably withhold consent. However, if you don't maintain the apartment as your primary residence, which generally requires living there for half the year (with certain exceptions that sound like they wouldn't apply to you), the landlord can bring a "Golub" action to evict you. So...get aboveboard with your landlord, and you shouldn't have any problems, unless the apartment is NOT your primary residence, in which case, it's time to let someone else have it!
teresa (Eugene, Oregon)
@Bocheball You have a rent stabilized apt. in NYC, but live half time in Europe? Apparently I don't understand rent stabilization. I thought it was designed to help low-income New Yorkers get and keep housing. If someone is "cheating the system" that was intended to help low-income families ... how is this any different than cheating on your taxes, morally speaking? I'm missing something.
Sarah (NYC)
@teresa As long as the apartment remains the tenant's primary residence, they don't have to be there all the time. Rent stabilization is for everyone.
Jim Tagley (Naples, FL)
Besides the issue of the sublet, the owner, living abroad, doesn't want to sell. How many thousands of apartments are basically removed from NYC's housing market because wealthy people living elsewhere want a pied-a-terre in Manhattan.
pmg (NC)
@Jim Tagley And want to use it as an income source, too....
DJS (New York)
@Jim Tagley The owners rents out the unit, so the owner has added a rental unit to the market.
Ned (NYC)
I can't even believe they're even considering this or asking this question - esp since it's a doorman co-op! The staff of any co-op building are very happy to see renters leave an apt vacant for the usual year between rentals, for the same reason they love people who own pied a terres. Fewer deliveries to handle, one less person to deal with on a daily basis, etc. They will immediately notify the board if the person is still coming and going - and the board will be happy to tack fines on to their maintenance. I would also wish them luck in getting their packages and food deliveries.
nerdrage (SF)
@Ned Time to start making friends with the doorman and being a very low key tenant. No packages or food deliveries. If there's a side door not monitored by the doorman, use it. Use the front door every so often to look like you're a friend visiting.
Eric (Hudson Valley)
@nerdrage There is no side door. It's a doorman building in NYC. There's a service entrance monitored by the doorman. Have you never been to NY?
Bob Carroll (new york city)
Good legal advice: don't sublet illegally. The landlord now has a choice: move back in or pay for an empty apartment. That's it. They may be willing to sell to the renter under these circumstances. Welcome to the world of coop ownership.
ghd (nyc)
the followup, big questions then: what could happen if the guest remained but lived as a guest, paying no (detectable) rent? And, is an owner required to defend ownership by being present in the apartment?
NK (NYC)
@ghd My coop defines "guest" as someone staying in the apartment when the owner is there. My guess is that it varies from coop to coop whether or not money changes hands.
SE (NYC)
@ghd Most, possibly all, Coop leases do not allow "friends" to stay as a guests without the owner being in residence. This is a terrible idea on the part of the owner. The Coop has already turned down a request for an extension. They won't take kindly to this arrangement. They will impose fines and possibly will terminate the lease forcing a sale. This is a huge risk on the part of the owner. Less of a risk on the part of the renter. However they may be forced to vacate the apartment on a moment's notice and possibly don't get back their deposit (if the owner is financially under pressure and does not have the funds). Besides the doorman and the super, whose allegiance is to the coop who pays their salaries, the Board members and management know when the lease expires and will start inquiries if the tenant has not vacated the apartment.
Clay Dedeaux (Grand Rapids, MI)
Living in an illegal sublet is a Nightmare. My then (1982) fiancé from Long Island canceled a contract to rent legally in an fabulous newly built apartment in Battery Park City, deciding unilaterally that it was too far away. I had just arrived from my longtime home in Southern California, forces to move instead to her parents home where her mother was dealing with the initial shock of a breast cancer diagnosis. Terribly Uncomfortable to all concerned. So, fiancé found an upper East side unit, including couch, that was hastily vacated by a prostitute living as an illegal sublet. The unit was illegally presented by a real estate agent. Threatening phone calls from landlord in middle of night informed us the illegality and spooked us enough that was absconded to another apartment (far more expensive in Soho) in the middle of the night. What followed was a cascade of misadventures and a hasty retreat from NYC and the engagement.
Mary M (GIVE US BACK OUR NORTHEAST TAX DOLLARS)
the purpose of co-ops is cooperative living, not renting out apartments. the two year lease provision protects all shareholders.
Robert (NYC)
I don’t see how this ends well, you have already applied and been rejected. Assuming you live a quiet low key life, it may be a few months before they catch up with you, but undoubtedly they will. I would find it stressful knowing that could happen at any time. I don’t know why anyone would ever purchase a coop, a NYC anachronism that will hopefully eventually go the way of incandescent light builds.
nerdrage (SF)
@Robert I can see the benefit of a co op: that you're less likely to end up with a building full fo renters vs a condo. For an owner resident this is a bonus. But what if the renter is quiet and causes no issues? Maybe the doorman doesn't care, the co op is lax, nothing happens. Worth testing the waters (while also looking for a better situation).
Robert (NYC)
Nerdrage, no evidence the coop board is lax, as they rejected the extension request. The way to test the board’s “laxness” would have been to not file the extension request at all, and see what happens. It is too late for that now. I do understand the rationale for wanting a coop, but the trade off is a loss of flexibility and more expensive non-coop housing stock. On balance, it would be better if they did not exist.
JoanP (Chicago)
@nerdrage - "I can see the benefit of a co op: that you're less likely to end up with a building full fo renters vs a condo. " Condominiums also have rules against renters.
Lou S. (Clifton, NJ)
Before even contemplating the assumption of any of the risks enumerated here, I would want to know what happens if the Renter who submitted this question experiences a fire in the apartment, or even water damage from the apartment above. Will his/her belongings be fully replaced by insurance, if he/she wasn't even supposed to be living here. And, God Forbid, what if the Tenant him/herself accidentally starts a fire or triggers a water damage event? In that scenario, I could see a very nasty lawsuit taking place, very quickly, since they shouldn't even have been there in the first place, and could theoretically be treated--in a legal sense--something like a trespasser.
Hektor (The Netherlands)
Until moving to the Netherlands recently, I lived in an "illegal" sublet in a Co-Op apartment in Manhattan. At first, we had a two year lease with the owner of the unit (who, it should be added, did not get board approval) and we lived there comfortably during that time, while the owner lived in LA. Eventually, the lease would expire, but we never signed a new lease, since we were close friends with the owner. We lived in this unit another 8 years with absolutely no trouble, eventually becoming part of the community in the building (although we were never shareholders). That said, for this person, the board already knows who they are and they have already been rejected from extending the lease. I can't help but think they have no choice but to leave. Too bad..
nerdrage (SF)
@Hektor Unless the board rejected the tenant because that's required of them as due diligence for protecting the co op. But once the legalities are out of the way, would they make an extra effort to evict an otherwise model neighbor who makes no noise and causes no issues? No way to find out other than putting it to the test. Being friends with the doorman and a generous tipper might help.
Sue (Philadelphia)
@nerdrage You do realize the doorman will probably accept the tip and then inform management about the illegal situation, right?
B. (Brooklyn)
The co-op's rule is meant to prevent people from purchasing apartments and becoming absentee landlords. In some ways it's a shame that a good tenant and presumably a good neighbor will have to find another place to live, of course. But the letter writer omits a detail: Will the owner be allowed to rent to a different tenant for two years? Probably not. So the owner must either return to live in the apartment, leave it empty, or sell it. That's the owner's problem. Anyway, how on earth do you propose to keep an extended, illegal tenancy there a secret? If your tub leaks into the downstairs neighbor's bathroom, then what?
nerdrage (SF)
@B. Make friends with all neighbors and the doorman. If the tub leaks, pay to fix it, pronto. There are sub-rosa situations that can continue indefinitely as long as you don't encounter a Karen type who wants to flex some muscles just because.
melp (downtown)
Both the renter and the Shareholder KNEW of the sublet limitations before they signed the lease. What makes them think they can reneg on a contract? As a Co-Op board member in a building that has strict sublet clauses because we are an OWNER OCCUPIED building, the hubris displayed by this letter makes me shake my head.
nerdrage (SF)
@melp Co ops are popular because they avoid the nuisance caused by irresponsible tenants but what if there's a fully responsible, inoffensive one, who happens to be friends with their neighbors? Maybe the board will make no move against the tenant. Don't host any wild parties for sure or if you do, invite the whole building and the doormen.
teresa (Eugene, Oregon)
@melp Goodness, yes. The owners wouldn't want to have to rub elbows with mere tenants! Hubris? We are so accustomed to economic inequality that we don't even think about these rules from a bigger perspective. I once changed my mind about buying a condo because owners weren't allowed to rent out their units. It is a rule that serves to maintain the status quo of the haves and have-nots. Cue the capitalist-as-only-option rants against my thinking on the matter.
melp (downtown)
@nerdrage No, the Co-op has to be consistent in applying the rules in the proprietary lease that the owner signs at the time of purchase. The owner knew there were limitations to subletting. Trying to get around the rules, particularly after a rejection is offensive.
Dan Woodard MD (florida)
At the other end of the spectrum, this is part of the reason millions are homeless. I signed the lease for a small efficiency in a run-down slum for a close friend who could not rent an apartment because he had a conviction years ago. His children were also homeless and he let them stay with him. The room was clean, the number of people was within safety codes. But the landlord found out and evicted him and his tiny family. Beyond a few remaining owners who rent to one or two people, property owners don't care a bit if poor people are homeless and consequently unable to get work or medical care. All that counts is profit, and evictions arte profitable even if the rent is paid on time.
Lawrence (Washington D.C.)
@Dan Woodard MD Evictions cost time, court fees, legal fees, turnover fees, inspection fees, and leasing fees. A tenant may be allowed to stay for ages rent free before the eviction takes place. Money lost while the unit is empty. The only rentals to own are parking lots or storage lots. No bathroom or plumbing problems, no leaky roof, heat never fails. Evictions are much easier, why just have them towed away.
Swimmer (Long Island)
@Dan Woodard MD I'm betting the problem was a fire code violation. The building can be hit with massive penalties if there is overcrowding.
rbyteme (East Millinocket, ME)
Do not ever sublet without landowner agreement in writing. I forgot to do this once. Tenants refused to pay, then refused to talk, basically squatted. I had zero legal recourse, lost the rental, paid thousands in penalties. Nightmare. All because I missed that one vital step.
nerdrage (SF)
@rbyteme That's why this is a bad idea for the landlord, but the tenant is the one who wrote the letter. Seems to me like, the tenant doesn't know whether an illegal (to the co op and their rules, not to the actual "law") situation might be tolerated, especially if the tenant is well liked by neighbors and doormen. Worth testing the waters. I'd be looking for a better place at the same time too.
Sridhar (Toronto)
There is an easy way to do this. The landlord can let a "friend" (that is , you) stay for as long as they wish. I don't think the co-op can object to that without facing discrimination charges. This won't be a lease and yo won't have lease protections but you get to stay where you are.
SE (NYC)
@Sridhar Coops have a very small and very specific list of people who can live in the unit. It is usually the owner, the spouse, and the dependent children. No siblings, parents, in laws and various relatives. Definitely not friends. Short term guests are allowed if the lease holder is living in the apartment.
Mary (NC)
@Sridhar it all depends on the language in the Co-op. There may be restrictions on how long visitors can remain.
Fairfis (Switzerland)
What this column really is saying is, that staying longer in the apartment is not a problem for the tenant at all but only for the owner. If you continue to pay rent and your landlord accepts it, you are not doing anything illegal.
Sarah (NYC)
@Fairfis Well, it's a problem for the tenant if the co-op forces the landlord to evict him into an overheated NYC housing market! That's the reason I'd advise against this (since it's a doorman building and they will totally know the tenant is still living there), not any sense of the alleged sacredness of the co-op bylaws.
nerdrage (SF)
@Sarah The tenant should look for a better rental but stick around because who knows if they'll lower the boom quickly. And if they do, it'll be against the landlord, who will probably ignore it for a while and maybe start battling with the co op. These things can drag out. The tenant gets a grace period to find something better.
Pet Peeve (Somewhere in the general vicinity of NYC)
"The point is, as a general rule, illegal sublets are highly ill-advised all around, No kidding. Someone needed to seek advice for this? And once you have applied for a lease and extension and were rejected, someone on the board or the building super will absolutely be at your door by the deadline to see how your move out process is going.
nerdrage (SF)
@Pet Peeve So don't let them in. Their beef is with the landlord, not the tenant. If the co op moves quickly, they'll send a letter to the landlord that becomes increasingly threatening and who knows how long that could drag on for. The tenant will have a grace period to find something better.
Pet Peeve (Somewhere in the general vicinity of NYC)
@nerdrage If the renter stays beyond the legally permitted sublease, they have no legal rights and absolutely can be escorted out at any time. The board will deal with the absentee owner too, but if they want the renter out, they can get them out. Don't count on a grace period especially when an application to extend the lease was rejected.
RB (Douglass Commonwealth)
Firstly, the term sub lease/let and landlord are not ideal when discussing co ops. Just saying. It may also be just semantics when it is stated that the board rejected the “tenant’s” lease extension requests. I should think that this person should play no part in this process. Strictly between co op shareholder and co op board. I suspect this lack of respect for the protocol of the co op may have resulted in the rejection. If the shareholder is abroad for work then co ops are sympathetic, usually. The writer says the shareholder lives abroad. If that’s the case, then the shareholder should either sell or come home. It’s a co op, not a condo.
nerdrage (SF)
@RB The fact that the co op tolerates an absentee landlord tells me that they're not willing to lower the boom on the landlord and force a sale on the basis that the landlord should be the one living in the unit. Does that mean the co op is not willing to get into it till it becomes an issue? If the tenant is quiet and well liked in the building, will it ever become an issue? This could be a headache that the co op is happy to ignore. They rejected the extension, which is just doing their due diligence. Doesn't mean they'll do anything else.
PM (NYC)
@nerdrage - The co-op tolerates the absentee landlord (shareholder) as long as he obeys the rules, which in this case apparently is subletting only for two years. Once the two years is up, they don't care whether he is absentee or not, just as long as he does not sublet the apartment anymore. Allowing a sublet to go beyond the two years just because the tenant is "well liked" is asking for trouble. Boards cannot play favorites with the shareholders. A rule for one is a rule for all.
RB (Douglass Commonwealth)
@RB I should also have said that this letter, written by the tenant, ends with is the risk worth taking. Now the shareholder may not read the Times or be inclined to write a question this column, but, aside from the tenant having a place to rent to live, what is the “risk” to the tenant? I don’t see where the tenant is a party to this particular conversation.
CA (Hudson Valley)
Two more reasons not to proceed: I’m my illegal sublet situation, the (in my case) landlord hired a private investigator to prove that I was living there. They were calling me at my job posing as a bank, and—I found out later—watching my every move. Second, a forced and abrupt end to any residential living situation in NYC leaves you a very short list of options for a new situation. Why live with that hanging over your head every day?
nerdrage (SF)
@CA Do you think a co op board would go to those lengths? If they're active, why are they allowing the owner to be an absentee landlord? They should force the owner to return or sell. But my hunch is, they don't want the hassle. They may acquiesce to an "illegal" situation that doesn't put anyone's nose out of joint.
City Survivor (NYC)
While I accept the general advice to avoid illegal sublets, there are situations that it will work. I should know, as I’ve done it on and off for 15 years. This apartment being a co-op with a doorman is the deal killer. - Too many people in your business. I’d say that the risk is greater for the leaseholder. It’s very hard to evict an illegal subtenant holdover if they refuse to leave.
nerdrage (SF)
@City Survivor Why is the doorman a deal killer? The tenant should be a good neighbor and a good tipper to the doorman. The co op could create a ruckus by trying to drag the tenant out by the heels and force the absentee landlord to return or sell, but maybe they'd be just as happy with the status quo as long as there's no cause for complaint.
Swimmer (Long Island)
@nerdrage Because the doorman could be fired. He is not permitted to allow people into the building that are not shareholders or guests who have been approved by the shareholder. If sub-let has ended, doorman will need to get the ok each time they enter. Having said this, many buildings are relaxed unless you cause a nuisance.
michaelc (Brooklyn)
Kind of an odd idea to think that you can live in a doorman co-op illegally without being noticed. It’s like asking if you can sleep in the lobby on the sofa. The entire point of co-op living is control by the shareholders, for good and for bad, over who the neighbors are. How could you not know that?
Gavagan (Mendham, NJ)
What is the exact definition of a lease "renewal" per the co-op board's policy? While "it cannot be renewed," perhaps you could legitimately move out for a week or a month, live elsewhere full time, then sign a completely new lease, and move back in.
Pet Peeve (Somewhere in the general vicinity of NYC)
@Gavagan Many coops limit the amount of time that units can be sublet, whether to one person or multiple. It may be 2 years and not available to sublet again for at least 5 years. It's meant to be a community of shareholders not a bunch of individual landlords.
nerdrage (SF)
@Pet Peeve Which means the landlord can't make any money off the unit for 5 years and wants the tenant to remain to make some money at all. So then it's up to the co op to enforce their rules, and that could get nasty. Are they willing to go thru the hassle? Maybe if the tenant is low key and well liked they will just forget all about it. Co op boards vary - some want to wield power just because, others just want a no-hassle existence.
Smotri (Borough of Manhattan)
@Gavagan You can’t just move out and then move back in a short while later. A sublease normally requires board approval, and nowadays with the board interviewing the proposed subtenant. The idea of doing what you propose is absurd.
jack (south carolina)
Is that typical in ny coop leases that the coop board limits leases to 2 years without the ability to extend or is there something more here that has not been mentioned about refusal of coop board to extend the lease
JoanP (Chicago)
@jack - Quite typical. Co-ops (and condominiums) prefer owner-occupied units. Indeed, my condominium building is more restrictive than the co-op referenced in the question. Leasing is only permitted if the owner has been unable to sell the unit for a year, and then the lease is limited to one year.
melp (downtown)
@jack It is common in Co-Ops that place a premium on being owner occupied buildings. The philosophy behind that is owners have a stake in the well-being if the building and the neighbors, while renters are transient and do not have the same interest. In my building we allow sublets twice over the term of ownership, for a maximum of 2 years each.
teresa (Eugene, Oregon)
@melp ... if not having "transient" tenants is the goal then longer leases, not shorter leases, would be the solution.
Carolyn (Hahn)
"The board has many tools at its disposal to make her life miserable..."--there's one, and it's a big one. In fact it's THE one: she risks losing her apartment if the illegal sublet is not "cured.". The board doesn't care about you, their relationship is with her, so if you dig in and make life harder for the landlord, it's not the building's problem, but you will both eventually be out. Most coops do specify that the owner of the unit is responsible for any legal fees the building incurs, so again, not your problem, but ultimately, and sooner rather than later, you won;t be living there. So no. Just..........no.
nerdrage (SF)
@Carolyn Who knows how long sooner or later really is? The tenant should look for a better situation but not move out immediately. Test the waters. Just how lax is the co op anyway?
travelwatcher (NM)
"All the while, she is racking up fines from the co-op board, and could be responsible for it’s legal fees." should be "its legal fees"
Christine (Oconomowoc)
Thanks for that. Stood out like a sore thumb.
John Lonergan (San Francisco)
Isn't it funny how NYC's rent control distorts markets? Why should it be an issue in any rational city to sublet an apartment? Like a frog slowly boiled, New Yorkers have lost all sense of what a rational rental market looks like. And your rents are high despite these distortions. Everybody (except a privileged few) loses!
melp (downtown)
@John Lonergan It is common in Co-Ops that place a premium on being owner occupied buildings. The philosophy behind that is owners have a stake in the well-being if the building and the neighbors, while renters are transient and do not have the same interest. In my building we allow sublets twice over the term of ownership, for a maximum of 2 years each.
JoanP (Chicago)
@John Lonergan - Rent control has nothing to do with this.
JH (Manhattan)
@John Lonergan Rent control has absolutely nothing to do with coops.
Charlie (San Francisco)
Wow. In San Francisco, when your lease ends, you go month-to-month. House, Co-Op, Apartement, it doesn't matter, so long as you paid your rent on time and you are in good standing. If a LL tries to force a tenant out, the renter gets a free lawyer, paid by a Google grant, to represent them.
Lawrence (Washington D.C.)
@Charlie Hence the lack of available rental housing.
teresa (Eugene, Oregon)
@Lawrence There is a lack of rental housing in all cities on both coasts, regardless of condo rules.
nerdrage (SF)
@Charlie SF doesn't have co ops. This is a weird co op specific thing. But I do wonder whether the tenant could get some legal help to fight evictions. In California, it's a real battle to evict any tenant who's been there over 30 days.
J c (Ma)
Co-ops: the worst aspects of socialism and capitalism rolled into one.
nerdrage (SF)
@J c If you definitely want to live in your unit and never rent it out, and don't want renters as neighbors, it could work out. But is the tenant the kind of renter that owners don't want to live next to? And is the co op run by sticklers for the rules, or by more lax types?
true blue (east)
@J c It's a choice.
NK (NYC)
This is a no-brainer. There is no upside for either the subtenant or the shareholder to staying on. The subtenant should leave when the two years are up. (I say this as a retired tenants' attorney who has battled many a landlord in my career.)
Howard G (New York)
First of all - The operative word in this topic is "ILLEGAL" -- As in - there are rules, regulations and legal statutes in place which specifically prohibit the activity to which the letter-writer refers -- Secondly - It's safe to assume that there are hundreds - if not thousand - of New York City tenants of apartments - both rent-regulated and market-rate -who are very uncomfortable reading this topic - because they are either living in an illegal sublet - or are illegally sub-leasing their apartment at a rate which far exceeds the limit set by the NYC housing laws -- Someone has a protected stabilized lease to their 1-bedroom for about $1,100 a month -- They decide to move in with their partner - but don't want to lose the valuable lease to their stabilized apartment - so hey sublet it out to someone for $2,000 a month (or more) - while the subtenant thinks their getting a bargain - The lease holder tries to fool the landlord by maintaining the Con Ed and telephone account in their name - taking payments directly from the subtenant - This used to be a widespread scam - but the city clamped down on it a few years ago - and now the lease-holder must prove primary residency via the address on their income tax and DMV documents - Not sure how it works with co-ops - but - like I said - the buzzword here is "ILLEGAL" - which could render the subtenant homeless and liable for civil - and criminal penalties -- with the shareholder also losing their rights to the co-op...
Bocheball (New York City)
@Howard G 'and now the lease-holder must prove primary residency via the address on their income tax and DMV documents ' Well that's not very hard. The issue is with a stabilized lease is the lease holder is required to spend 180 days in the apt and can only charge 10% over the legal rent to any subletter. Charging more is immediate grounds for losing your lease. Also, landlord approval of the subletter is required and that's where the law is often broken.
Erik (Nyc)
Lousy coop board to deny you and make it difficult for the owner. Find an alternative. E.g. home exchanges are difficult to ban so maybe try that. Rent the cheapest place in the world you can find and exchange it with the landlord. Any gifts to the landlord are just that.
Swimmer (Long Island)
@Erik You can't get around the rules by doing a home exchange. Even house-guests are restricted in how long they can stay. It's not just Co-ops by the way, many condos have similar rules. Tenants do not have the same vested interest in the building as owner-occupiers. I have a flat in London that originally allowed no sublets. Mortgage companies put pressure on us to allow them. Now I am the only owner-occupier in the entire building. The rest are tenants who just throw their rubbish everywhere and have loud parties at 3am.
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