Tenant Law Podcast

Welcome to the Tenant Law Podcast, where we talk about new, interesting, and/or important legal cases affecting New York City tenants. Listen on Apple, Spotify, Youtube. There are also a bunch of great blog posts on this page of tenant questions and Tenant Learning Platform instructor’s answers.

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When You Move In With Your Spouse to a Rent Stabilized Apartment

Jan 20, 2019

Tenant Question:

My husband is living in a Rent Stabilized apartment. I am not living with him; we are married but have had our twists and turns. Things are better now, and he wants me to move in with him. I really don’t want my name on the lease. If I end up moving out again, I don’t want to be legally responsible for the rent.

Can I live in my husband’s apartment without having my name on the lease? Do we have to get permission for the landlord for me to move in?

TLP Instructor Michelle’s Answer:

Yes, you can live in your husband’s apartment without either asking for the landlord’s permission or putting your name on the lease.

Under New York Real Property Law § 235(f), often referred to as the “Roommate Law”, a residential lease entered into by one tenant implicitly permits that tenant to share the apartment with either his/her immediate family or unrelated persons. This is true even if a residential lease says otherwise. As the tenant’s wife you are, obviously, immediate family.

Your husband might, however, want to ask the landlord for a key or key fob for you. In Akelius Real Estate Management LLC, New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (“DHCR”) Adm. Rev. Docket No. EX210010RO (5/18/17) LVT Number 27798, DHCR articulated its standard policy for key fobs systems, which requires that tenants may receive up to four additional key fobs or key-cards, at no charge, for the use of tenant’s employees or the tenant’s guests, who are defined as family members or friends who can be expected to visit on a regular basis.

Finally, if the apartment becomes your primary residence and if you and your husband decide that do wish to have your name on the lease, then the landlord MUST add you.

RSC 2522.5(g)(1) states:

“[T]he tenant shall have the right to have his or her spouse added to the lease or any renewal thereof as an additional tenant where said spouse resides in the housing accommodation as his or her primary residence.”

The landlord may not charge a vacancy increase for adding your name to the lease. See http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/OpinionLetters/COL-1906.htm.

Thank you for this question. Finally, I am obligated to say that this answer is for general informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney and client relationship between you and I or between you and the Tenant Learning Platform.