As a security precaution, a co-op board on the Upper West Side of Manhattan recently instituted a rule that all overnight guests must sign in with the doorman. But a subletter in a rent-stabilized apartment in the co-op posed this question to the Ask Real Estate column in the New York Times: “Is this legal, and can my guests and I refuse?”
Rent-stabilized tenants are bound by the terms of their lease and the rent stabilization law – not by the rules of the co-op – responds attorney Andrew Wagner of the firm Anderson Kill.
Since the owner of the apartment, not the co-op, is the landlord, a renter is not bound by the co-op’s rules. This could apply even to pets. If the lease permits pets and the co-op board institutes a no-pets policy, the renter would be allowed to keep a pet. Similarly, if the lease does not require overnight guests to sign in, they would not have to comply with the rule.
But don’t expect boards to accept this without a fight. If the board takes the renter to court over refusing to abide by the rules, a judge might not sympathize with the renter’s cause, Wagner warns. “I could see a judge enforcing the (sign-in) policy against the tenant as a reasonable safety measure,” he says.
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