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For Rent

Members of High Rise Society are ever resourceful.  No matter what their political persuasion on the outside, on the inside they are liberal to a fault when it comes to believing in the power of government at home to order the behavior of their neighbors, but libertarians who want to keep government at a distance when it comes to them. 

This is especially true when it comes to renting out their apartments.  They figure having paid all that money to buy, they’re entitled to rent to whoever they want whenever they want, no matter that they swore on the Holy Bible to abide by the compact that governs their co-op as a condition of admission. (In most condos owners can rent out without restriction.) So they take things into their own hands rationalizing that it wasn’t meant to apply to them. They have come up with myriad ways to break the law, which can work – or not.

2802624674_ee32b85f4aSay you decide to make a sudden getaway at 3 A.M. from your apartment because the Feds are on your tail, or you just have an urgent desire to vacation in some warm South American Republic, and you haven’t had the time (or inclination) to get approval to sublease your place.  What do you do? You get a friendly board member to say it’s a “Guest.”  This is generally a stopgap measure because most buildings only allow a guest to stay for thirty days.  But it buys enough time to turn your guest into a legal tenant without losing a single month’s rent, and odds are if the accommodating board member played along with the initial ruse, he’ll look the other way if you need a little more time to get an application approved.

tree_bedAnother way is to say your brother is moving in with you, which is okay because the law allows you to have a roommate.  Only then the brother’s girlfriend moves in too, which is not okay because you can only have a finite number of roommates. Then you move out, turning the apartment into an illegal love nest because even your brother, the once legal roommate, becomes illegal when he’s no longer a roommate but now an unauthorized guest. Still they’re already in residence, which gives them – and you — a significant leg up in circumventing the sublet rules.  Possession really is nine-tenths of the law, maybe even more in High Rise Society. It worked for Mr. X for a few months till someone snitched and they were all found out, and the board sicced the lawyers on them, making them depart in haste.

 An even better ploy is to have your would-be tenant move into your apartment without moving out your furniture, or bringing any eye-catching baggage.  Then you slip out quietly, chatting up the doorman as you go, never to return – or at least not for while. The more people living in the building, the less anyone knows anyone else, and the greater the chances that the human switch will go unnoticed.  It took more than a year for us to figure it out, and by that time the owner was ready to move back in.

You might even consider getting the law to help you circumvent the law. Lawyers do it all the time.  Say you’re a holder of unsold shares exempt from any subletting rules.  The problem is you really have to be who you say you are, which isn’t easy to fake (see So You Wanna Be A Super Jefe), but if you are (or do) you and your tenant are home free.

Finally there are extreme measures. Two guys living together in my building transferred ownership of their apartment from one to the other, thereby legally circumventing the time limit on subleasing and starting the clock running anew. It’s not for everyone, but it worked for them.

 Remember, in High Rise Society, where there’s a will, there’s way – legal or not.  All you have to do is find it or invent it.

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One Response to “For Rent”

  1. Diane says:

    I got a call about one of the units I own that was for rent, and the man said, “I want to be honest with you. There are three of us guys, and we are all level 3 sex offenders who have served our time. Will you rent to us?” I had to ask them if I could call back, mostly because I was so surprised and needed a second to think about the legal ramifications of shouting “no!” I called back and said that according to the governing documents, I could not rent to anyone with a record. Phew. You never know, though, if someone is calling about the rental hoping to claim discrimination or whatever.

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