October 03, 2018
Adam Leitman Bailey, Partner, Adam Leitman Bailey
You’re in a co-op building, and you have a resident called a rent-regulated tenant (this covers the older rent-controlled apartments and the relatively more recent rent-stabilized units). The rent-regulated tenant moved in many years ago, before your building became a cooperative, when it was a rental. In fact, if you look at the history of cooperatives, many former rentals are now co-ops. When your rent-regulated tenants leave, then those apartments become free-market and part of the co-op.
What happens if you have a rent-regulated tenant who is also a hoarder? I’m talking about those people who live in apartments cluttered high with newspapers – and visited by vermin and bugs. Is this a health hazard? Absolutely. A fire hazard? Absolutely. Is that dangerous for your residents? Absolutely.
This is a serious problem, and most hoarders need serious help. The board of directors is meeting, and all of a sudden the subject “rent-regulated hoarder” comes up under your new business section. Everyone wants to speak. Everyone has gotten calls about this rent-regulated tenant/hoarder.
You have someone you can turn to for help. Remember: there is a non-resident owner of this unit. He or she is not the “landlord” of that rent-regulated apartment. To get the tenant out, the owner has to be notified of everything. That owner also has to be sued.
But that owner is probably going to be very happy to be sued. That owner has a unit where he or she is not getting the full rent, and the best thing that could happen is if the board evicts the tenant. They’ve been waiting 40 years to have the tenant leave (through eviction or death), so they can get the apartment back and sell it on the market.
In these situations, the board should have that owner hande the eviction. If you have an aggressive owner, let him or her do the job, and the board doesn’t have to spend money. If the owner is not being aggressive, then the board has to do the job. Either way, everybody should work together for the common good.