The Inquiring Mind: Using Lobby for Tenant Party
By: Adam Leitman Bailey
December 1st, 2008
Q:One of my tenants told me that she plans to use our building’s lobby for a party so that the tenants in the building can get to know one another. She says that she has the right to do this under State law. Is she correct?
A: Not exactly, says Adam Leitman Bailey of the Manhattan law firm of Adam Leitman Bailey, PC. Section 230 of the State’s Real Property Law (RPL) gives tenants’ groups the right to meet in a peaceful manner in any location in the building without having to pay a fee. They must meet during “reasonable hours” and “without obstructing access to the premises or facilities.” Unfortunately, there is almost no case law interpreting RPL section 230, he notes. However, the section speaks of tenants meeting for the purpose of forming groups to protect tenants’ rights. It doesn’t protect social activities, points out Bailey. So, the tenant can’t demand to use the lobby for a party, he says. If the tenant was trying to meet to establish a tenants’ organization for the building, you would probably have to allow her to do so. But you could insist that the meeting take place during reasonable hours—for example, at a time in the evening when the lobby is usually quiet.
Exempting SCRIE Tenant from Paying Fuel Cost Adjustment
Q: Does the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program cover the fuel cost adjustment that rent-controlled tenants must pay, or do tenants pay this themselves, directly to the owner?
A: SCRIE doesn’t exempt the tenant from paying the entire amount of the fuel cost adjustment. Instead, at the time the tenant first applies for SCRIE and is found eligible, SCRIE exempts the tenant from paying any future increase in the fuel cost adjustment. SCRIE sets the tenant’s share of the rent, which includes the current amount of the cumulative fuel cost adjustment. SCRIE exempts the tenant from paying subsequent fuel cost increases, which are included in the tax abatement the owner receives.