Landlord Can't Get 20 Percent Vacancy Increase from Second Successor Tenant

LVT Number: #32389

An apartment occupant asked the DHCR to determine his apartment's rent-regulated status and to rule that he had succession rights to the unit. In response, landlord argued that the occupant would be the second successor to the rent-controlled apartment, which would warrant a 20 percent vacancy rent increase. The DRA ruled against landlord, who appealed and lost. The occupant had submitted documentation consisting of various documents appearing to show that he lived in the unit for a least two years before the death of his mother, the tenant.

An apartment occupant asked the DHCR to determine his apartment's rent-regulated status and to rule that he had succession rights to the unit. In response, landlord argued that the occupant would be the second successor to the rent-controlled apartment, which would warrant a 20 percent vacancy rent increase. The DRA ruled against landlord, who appealed and lost. The occupant had submitted documentation consisting of various documents appearing to show that he lived in the unit for a least two years before the death of his mother, the tenant. The DRA found that the son had succession rights to the rent-controlled apartment and that landlord was not entitled to a 20 percent vacancy increase. 

In its PAR, landlord argued that, because the tenant died in 2017, prior to the enactment of the HSTPA, the HSTPA's 2019 amendments to the rent control and rent stabilization laws can't be applied to the son's succession claim. Landlord claimed that this would be an improper retroactive application of the HSTPA. The DHCR disagreed. It was undisputed that the son was the apartment's second successor tenant. But in prior DHCR decisions cited by landlord, the underlying complaint or application was filed before June 14, 2019, which was before the HSTPA amendments took effect. The mere fact that the tenant died in 2017 didn't automatically give the son succession rights. The son's succession rights weren't established until November 2020. The issue of whether the son was a second successor wasn't before the DRA prior to June 14, 2019. And no party has a vested right to any remedy under the Rent Stabilization Law. By the time the issue was raised, there was no longer any 20 percent vacancy increase to be applied.

Riverside Ventura LLC: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. IX420004RO (12/14/22)[2-pg. document]