Do older tenants have special rights in New York City?

If you are a senior citizen facing a housing dispute here in New York City, you should understand that you do indeed have certain protections under the law.

Suppose that you are 64 years old and have lived in your rent-stabilized apartment for the past two decades. Ownership of the building changed hands recently, however, and your landlord is trying to evict you from your rent-controlled apartment to move in a new tenant they can charge way more rent per month.

That's not legal, as property owners can't evict tenants age 62 and older from their rent-controlled apartments. Those who have lived in their units for 15 years or longer or who are disabled or married to a spouse who is 62 or older are also protected.

But you also have further protections under the law. For instance, if your health starts to fail and it is no longer safe for you to continue living in your apartment on your own, you won't face any legal penalties if you terminate your lease to move into a care facility or senior housing complex. All you need to do is give them a month's notice and document your pending admission to the facility.

That doesn't mean that there will not be landlords and property owners who won't try to skirt these laws for their own benefit. But if you know your rights under the law, you can take action and fight back. Retaining an attorney who is familiar with New York City real estate laws can be key to turning the legal tide in your favor.