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Succession Rights

Are you claiming succession rights to a rent-stabilized apartment and the landlord is refusing to provide you with a lease in your name? Under the Rent Stabilization Code and Mitchel Lama laws, qualifying family members may have a right to retain in the apartment, provided that they have resided with the tenant of record for a period of two years or more before the tenant's permanent vacatur of the apartment or two years prior to their death.  Qualifying family members over sixty-two years old or who are disabled only have had to reside with the tenant of record for one year prior to their death or departure.

Courts have granted succession rights to individuals that are not family members but who may be considered non-traditional family members (those not related by blood or marriage). In order to gain succession rights, non-traditional family members must show financial and emotional interdependence with the tenant of record. The factors that courts will take into account are: having a joint bank account with the tenant of record, being listed in the will of the tenant of record, being named as a beneficiary on the tenant of record's life insurance policy and jointly paid household expenses.  Other factors include sharing meals, attending family functions, holidays, celebrations and social events and whether they held themselves out as family members in their community.

It is important if you are claiming succession that you have the necessary documents together, especially if you are a non-traditional family member. This can be a time-consuming and stressful task, since many of the required documents may contain sensitive information. It is best that you consult with an attorney who can redact your documents appropriately. You should gather these documents as early as possible. For all of these reasons, it is best to save all monthly or recurring statements in a safe place. These include bank statements, credit card statements, telephone, cable, internet or other utility bills, hospital bills or medical records, W2s, tax returns, and any other mail that you receive with your name and address on it that also includes a date. 

Mitchell Lama apartments are affordable rental and cooperative apartments where the eligibility to rent or own the apartment is based on income and apartment size. In order for an occupant to gain succession rights to a Mitchell Lama apartment, the successor must be an authorized family member, have had to be included on the income affidavits for the two years immediately prior to the date of the original tenant's vacatur/death and they must have lived with the original tenant for a period of not less than two years immediately before the original tenant vacated the apartment. This period is reduced to one year where the successor tenant is over sixty two years old or who is disabled. A successor must submit an application for succession to the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and must follow all instructions and requirements set by DHPD. It is best to have an experienced attorney help you wish such an application. 

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