Subletters have whatever rights they agreed to with the person they’re subletting from. That’s who needs to take action.
Q: A shareholder in our East Village co-op has been subletting his apartment for about two years. The subletter has been an ongoing problem for the building, violating co-op rules. She is loud, leaves the front door open and has screaming fights with her husband. The shareholder wants her out, as does the co-op board. She said that she will sue the co-op if we kick her out. Does she have any legal rights in a co-op sublet? What can the co-op do to evict her?
A: The subletter has whatever legal rights she agreed to in the sublease she signed with the shareholder, who is her landlord. He is the one to enforce the terms of their agreement.
The co-op never signed any contract with the subletter, so it has no relationship with her. But the board does have a relationship with the shareholder, and it could potentially evict him for problems his subletter creates.
“It was the shareholder who installed this individual, and the shareholder is responsible,” said Erez Glambosky, a real estate lawyer and a partner in the Manhattan office of the law firm Rivkin Radler. “Ultimately the shareholder is the one who has to take action.”
The board could give the shareholder written notice to correct any violations or face eviction. In turn, the shareholder could either negotiate a departure with his subletter or give her written notice to comply with building rules. If the problems continue, he would then take her to housing court where a judge could order her eviction, although it’s more likely that the judge would encourage a settlement. (The courts tend to avoid evicting tenants over noise and other disturbances.)
If her sublease is nearing the end of its term, or has already ended, he should give her written notice to vacate the apartment — 30, 60 or 90 days, depending on how long she’s lived in the apartment, according to recent changes to state rent laws. If she doesn’t vacate, he could then take her to housing court to force her out.
Could she sue the co-op board and the shareholder? Anyone can file a lawsuit if they want. But if the board and the shareholder follow the law, she should not have a claim.
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