A New Lease on Life?

Does “˜And’ Mean “˜With’?

The occupancy clause of the lease states that the shareholder and members of the immediate family are the only legal tenants of a co-op apartment. (Same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual couples are protected under the New York Roommate Law.) For the nuclear family raising two school-age children, this works out simply enough. But what happens years later, when the shareholder decides to relocate to Paris but hang onto the apartment, enticing one of the now-grown children to return to the nest?

In this scenario, the meaning of the word “˜and’ is the difference between a very lucky child and an illegal subtenant. “The courts have read that conjunction as very important,” says Murray. And, over the years, they have also read it differently.

“One said that “˜and’ means “˜or’ and another court said that “˜and’ does not mean “˜or,'” says Weinstein. More recently, courts have been ruling consistently in favor of the latter. A shareholder’s children can only reside in the apartment when the shareholder is in residence. Otherwise, they’re right alongside the rest of the city’s apartment seekers, holding a broker’s check in hand, in line to tour a tenth-floor walkup. In order to terminate the “and/or” debate, drafters of the CNYC’s updated lease sought to write an occupancy clause with unbending definitions.



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