As the Rent Stabilization Law remains in flux, awaiting lawmakers’ decisions on new laws to replace those set to expire on June 15, 2019, one thing remains constant: the need for building owners to remain vigilant in enforcement of existing lease obligations and existing statutory obligations. With the proposed repeal of vacancy bonuses (which have allowed rents to be raised up to 20% upon the vacancy of an outgoing Rent Stabilized tenant, plus additional bonuses if the outgoing tenant was in occupancy for at least 8 years), it is understandable that property owners may desire to pull back on enforcing the leases and laws which govern them, as may very well exhibit a similar reluctance to incur legal fees for such enforcement if they perceive a diminished incentive to do so.
However, neglecting to enforce leases or the laws which govern them exposes landlords to a host of liability issues which could be far costlier than the rent increases received via vacancy increases and bonuses. In this regard, it is important to remember that tenants who act contrary to the terms of their lease or law put other tenants and building ownership at risk.
In short, since landlords aggressively search for good tenants prior to the commencement of a lease (i.e., by conducting stringent credit checks), the proposed elimination of vacancy bonuses should not prompt a lack of lease and law enforcement once a tenant takes possession of an apartment. Regardless of what occurs on or after June 15, 2019, one thing is for certain: the good practices adopted and followed by building owners during the past few decades should not fall by the wayside merely because some of the existing laws may be changing.