Succession rights permit certain occupants of a rent-regulated apartment to lawfully become tenants of the apartment when the tenant of record (the person named on the lease) dies, permanently leaves or surrenders rights to the apartment.
Succession rights permit certain occupants of a rent regulated apartment to lawfully become tenants of the apartment when the tenant of record (the person named on the lease) dies, permanently leaves or surrenders rights to the apartment.
Rent regulated apartments are those subject to the Rent Control and Rent Stabilization Laws of the City and State of New York. The general definitions are:
Succession rights are given by law to certain family members and to other individuals with a “family-like” relationship to the tenant of record who meet succession criteria.
The family members that can claim succession rights by law are:
Any other individuals, who can demonstrate a “family-like” relationship to the tenant of record and meet the succession criteria may also be entitled to succession rights.
Factors looked at to determine whether there is a “family-like” relationship include:
To establish succession rights the eligible family or “family-like” member must show that s/he lived continuously in the apartment with the tenant of record since:
Succession rights can be claimed when the tenant of record dies, permanently leaves, or surrenders rights to the apartment, or upon the first lease renewal after the tenant of record dies, permanently leaves or surrenders rights to the apartment.
Note: Remaining family members may jeopardize or lose their succession claim if the rights are not claimed in a timely manner.
Remaining family members should send a letter (preferably by certified mail) to the landlord explaining that the tenant of record has died, permanently vacated or surrendered rights to the apartment and that the family members are entitled to become the new tenants. In the case of death, a copy of the death certificate should be included with the letter. In the case of a surrender of rights, a letter or affidavit from the tenant of record to that effect may be included.
While not a claim of succession rights, the remaining family members may also notify the New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal (formerly DHCR) that the tenant of record has died, left or surrendered rights to the apartment if they receive any communication from the agency including, the Annual Rent Registration form or the Maximum Base Rent Increase or Fuel Cost Adjustment application or order.
The person(s) claiming succession rights will need documents that show the family relationship and that they have lived in the apartment with the tenant of record for the required time period (see above). The following documents/ evidence are useful in establishing succession rights:
Family members may do any of the following if the landlord refuses to recognize them as tenants:
We strongly recommended that family members consult an attorney before making a succession claim.
For further information, you may call the Office of Homes and Community Renewal at 718-739-6400, or view the Succession Rights fact sheets here.
The information in this document has been prepared by The Legal Aid Society for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You should not act upon any information without retaining professional legal counsel.
Last Updated: 19 September 2019
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