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Ilusory Prime Tenant:

Court Holds That Tenant Is Illusory Prime Tenant and Subtenant Has A Right To The Lease For Rent Stabilized Apartment

Tenant leased a rent-stabilized apartment from the rent stabilized tenants for over 10 years, paying the absentee tenants more than the legal rent.  The landlord commenced eviction proceedings in Housing Court against the tenants of record, claiming that they were no longer primary residents of the apartment and asserting that tenant was just an illegal subtenant.  Grad & Weinraub, LLP represented the tenant in Housing Court, asserting that he was in fact the true rent stabilized tenant and the named-tenants were nothing more than illusory prime tenants.  The landlord agreed to recognize him as the rent-stabilized tenant, but insisted that he pay a “vacancy” rent increase going back to 1997.  On behalf of the tenant, Grad & Weinraub argued that the tenant could not be compelled to pay more rent than the original rent-stabilized tenants would have paid.  The Court rejected the landlord’s claim and agreed that the tenant did not have to pay a vacancy increase and his rent would be the same as the prior rent-stabilized tenants.