Question: I’m a 62-year-old single woman living in a one-bedroom apartment in a rent-stabilized building. When I moved in in 1986, I was paying $650. I now pay $1,135. The building recently was put up for sale. My question is at what point can the new owner offer myself and the other tenants a buyout?
— Waiting in the West Village
Whenever they wish. There is no set period of time required before new landlords can offer to buyout existing tenants. You could get a knock on your door the day the new owners take over.
Important: Don’t name a figure. Let the new landlord start the process.
There are a couple of issues you should be aware of, however, that could affect whether you want to leave or what, if any, a new landlord wants to offer you to leave.
At your age, you may never see an offer. You have the right to remain in your apartment for as long as you wish, and the new landlords can’t really make you move. Even with money. Even if they want to move in themselves. Since you are over 62 and have lived in your apartment for more than 20 years, the landlords can’t make you move under any circumstances. If they really want you out and do offer you a buyout, then along with the money, they have to offer you a “comparable or superior apartment in the same neighborhood at the same or lower regulated rent and a payment of moving expenses.” That may prove to be too rich for your new landlords.
You may be protected from future rent increases. If your income is less than $50,000 a year, you may be eligible for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program (SCRIE). Also known as the NYC Rent Freeze Program, SCRIE freezes the rent for head-of-household seniors 62 and older who live in rent-regulated apartments. Landlords are given a property tax abatement credit applied to their property tax bill in the same amount as the increase that the tenant is exempted from paying.
The state Attorney General offers a booklet, A Housing Guide for Senior Citizens, that thoroughly examines many issues for older tenants.
David Crook is a veteran journalist and author of The Complete Wall Street Journal Real-Estate Investing and Homeowner’s Guidebooks. Do you have a question about anything real estate-related in NYC? Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For verification purposes, please include your name and a phone number; neither will be published. Note: Nothing in this column should be considered professional legal advice. If you have a legal issue, consult an attorney.
Hey, why not like StreetEasy on Facebook and follow @streeteasy on Instagram?