Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Random Housing Law Moment

Working in the world of housing and landlord/tenant, I quite often find things "everyone knows" that aren't entirely true. Today I'll address Real Property Law 235-f because I see many leases which contain clauses that are not in compliance.

The various sections following RPL 235 contain a large number of provisions governing ll/t business. Since they aren't commonly seen, even by practitioners, these rules can get lost in the shuffle. 235-f is commonly known as the "roommate law." Although it contains numerous subsections, (3) is one that shows the operation of the law:
Any lease or rental agreement for residential premises entered into by one
tenant shall be construed to permit occupancy by the tenant, immediate family of
the tenant, one additional occupant, and dependent children of the occupant
provided that the tenant or the tenant's spouse occupies the premises as his
primary residence.

Other sections discuss what happens when more than one tenant is on the lease. More important, perhaps, is #7, which states that any lease clause which operates to restrict tenancy in violation of the law is void.

In other words: clauses which attach extra rent per person or limit residency to a certain number of people are invalid. The limit on residents is the health and safety codes which establish the people-per-square-foot limits. A tenant can legally have a spouse or significant other move in without any change in the rent, for example.


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