Philadelphia Skyline

Itkowitz PLLC Gets OUT Illegal Short-Term Leasing Company for Foreign Students that Chopped Apartment up into Four Separate Rooms! With Just a Letter!

February 10, 2017

I represented a residential landlord in Manhattan who had just purchased a multifamily building[1].  I was hired to do Rent Stabilization Due Diligence

Security footage showed that one of the railroad apartments had four different young men coming in and out of different doors.  The young men would change frequently, coming and going with suitcases and back packs.  An inspection of the apartment revealed that the apartment had been altered into four separate rooms, with locks on the doors.  This apartment had been changed into an illegal hotel. 

The usual discussion ensued with the landlord, about whether the illegal alterations or the short-term illegal sublets would be the more fruitful case.  I am not going into it here, because I have written so much about these topics elsewhere, but both cases present challenges.

Luckily and strangely, however, the Rent Stabilized lease was in the name of a corporation!  I looked up the corporation online and found their website, in a non-English language.  Thanks to Google Translate I was able to see that this was a company that placed young foreign people into these rooms, like a hostile.  Of course, this is completely illegalBut we did not need to get in to any of that.

My position was that, because the tenant was a corporation, and a corporation cannot be a Rent Stabilized tenant (but for a very few circumstances and this was NOT one of those exceptions), that this was not a Rent Stabilized tenancy.  I simply served the corporation with a thirty-day notice of termination and I wrote them a letter, saying the game was over.  The corporation was quite nice about it actually, and surrendered at the end of the month, leaving no tenants behind and the place was broom clean. 

Ironically, I offered to advise this company on how they could tweak their business model somewhat, and do what they do with placing the foreign students legally.  I advise other companies on the topic of co-living. 

What’s the Lesson?  The lesson here is that a good lawyer looks for the path of least resistance to the goal.  Not everything is a big litigation. 

Respectfully submitted,

[1] Some details changed to protect the client’s privacy.

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