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Ask Sam: If I start making more money, will I lose my 80/20 apartment?

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Dear Sam: I have a spot in an 80/20 building. Can I get kicked out of my apartment if my income gets high enough? If so, how much money do I have to make for that to happen?


While you need to be forthcoming with your landlord about your finances even after you've signed the lease, an increase income isn't likely to cause you problems here, says Sam Himmelstein, a lawyer who represents residential and commercial tenants and tenant associations.

"The short answer to this is that no, you can't be kicked out [for an increased income]," says Ron Languedoc, a partner at the firm. 

To initially qualify for an apartment in an 80/20 building, family income must be no more than 50 percent of Area Median Income (“AMI”). Once you've landed the apartment, you'll be required to undergo an annual review submitting information on your current financial situation. But even if you report new, higher levels of income during this review, you aren't likely to be booted from your home.

"Most low-income tenants in the 80/20 program aren’t at risk of losing their low-rent apartments even if their income exceeds the AMI standard listed for the Low Income Housing Tax Program," Languedoc explains. "For most tenants in the program, their income has to be reported annually only so that the owner can comply with the requirements of the tax program."

In other words, you have to be careful to comply with the annual paperwork requirements, but if you suddenly land a job with a six-figure salary or win big on Powerball, it shouldn't be a problem.

That said, specific tax requirements and financial setups can vary from building to building, and if you're concerned, you may want to run it by a lawyer. "Tenants who have a question regarding this should contact an attorney who can look at their lease and check the regulatory agreement for the building that is on file with ACRIS," he says.

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Sam Himmelstein, Esq., represents NYC tenants and tenant associations in disputes over evictions, rent increases, rental conversions, rent stabilization law, lease buyouts and many other issues. He is a partner at Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph in Manhattan.  To submit a question for this column, click here. To ask about a legal consultation, email Sam or call (212) 349-3000.


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