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Marrying for Rent Control in New York City?

Did Sarah Berman marry 87-year-old Stanley Lowell just so that she could take over his estimated $400 a month rent controlled apartment? Rent control in New York City is a valuable thing, especially when the market value for similar apartments in the West Village can reach $5,000 a month.

Berman, 63, wed the ailing Lowell last September, reports the New York Post. He died only a month after the marriage, and Berman inherited his cheap rent. However, the landlords of the apartment building doubt that Berman married for love -- instead believing that she conned the elderly gentleman to take over the apartment.

Now, the landlords are seeking to evict Berman so that they can rent out the apartment at market levels, arguing that the "purported" marriage "violates the intent, spirit and purpose of the rent regulatory laws of the state and city of New York," reports the Post.

Generally, rent control laws in New York limit the amount that landlords can raise rent for some long-standing tenants in certain buildings. Rent controlled apartments tend to be priced well below market values in the hyper-real estate market of New York City, and can usually only be raised once there is turnover in the unit.

However, in some cases, a tenant can pass on his lease to another. One such situation is when a tenant dies and a family member takes over the lease. The family member usually has to have resided with the tenant for at least two years prior to the death.

Sarah Berman is accused of marrying Stanley Lowell due to rent control in New York City. If the case goes to court, it will be up to a judge to determine if she was a family member, despite the short marriage.

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