It is important to note that these FAQs are not intended as a substitute for the definitions, interpretations, etc., contained in the respective rent regulatory statutes, codes, and regulations themselves, or any administrative or court decision construing such statutes, codes, and regulations, or any order of the New York City or County Rent Guidelines Boards.
What are my rights if I’m not named in the lease?

The rights of roommates who are not family members are limited. They may be evicted when the tenant on the lease vacates the apartment. In addition, the named tenant can ask a roommate to leave the shared apartment by commencing a roommate holdover case in NYC Housing Court. Further information on roommates can be found on the Housing Court Answers website.

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Can I get my unpleasant roommate’s name off the lease we both signed?

If your roommate is named on the lease, they are technically a co-tenant, and each of you have the same rights in the apartment.

If the apartment is rent stabilized, the primary tenants named on the lease both have the right of renewal. If you wish to have a new lease naming you only, you should get the co-tenant’s consent (in writing). The owner may not pick sides and renew to only one of the current named tenants without consent of the other.

If the apartment is not rent regulated, you are free to renegotiate with the landlord to have a new lease naming you as the sole tenant. However, so can your co-tenant. The owner is not under any obligation to renew your lease, rent it solely to you, or to renew it with the same names unless the current lease specifically states so.

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If you signed the lease and the lease has not expired, neither your roommates nor your landlord can ask you to leave. This may be an illegal eviction. The only way they could force you from the apartment would be to file an eviction action in housing court.

If the lease had expired when you returned, and the apartment is not rent stabilized, you have no right to a lease or to return to the apartment. If the apartment is rent stabilized you may have had the right to a lease renewal. However, if you failed to respond to a properly served lease renewal offer, you may have to file a complaint with NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), the state agency which administers the rent laws. You will have to show that you have a good excuse for not having returned a properly tendered renewal offer. The matter may also end up in Housing Court if the landlord attempts to prevent you from occupying the apartment.

A signed lease which is still in effect (i.e., not expired) is proof that you have the right to occupy the apartment. If this is the case and you would like to return to the apartment you should talk to the landlord and let him/her know that you may have to call the police if he/she does not let you return. If this doesn’t work you may have to file an action in New York City Housing Court to regain access to the apartment. For more information on housing court in New York City, see our Legal Assistance page.

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What are the rules regarding taking in roommates?

According to HCR’s Leases and Rent Increases webpage:

When only one tenant is named on a lease, the tenant has the right to take in a roommate and the roommate’s dependent children.

When two or more tenants are named on the lease, the number of tenants and roommates cannot exceed the number of tenants named in the lease.

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How much rent can I charge my roommate?

According to NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), the state agency which administers the rent laws:

In a rent stabilized apartment, the rent collected from the roommate cannot exceed their proportionate share of the apartment. For example, the roommate can’t be charged more than half of the total rent.

For more information, see HCR’s Leases and Rent Increases webpage.

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