Posted by Anna on January 06, 2000 at 11:07:38:
In Reply to: Landlord trying to establish 'illegal tenant' posted by J. Shunk on January 05, 2000 at 19:25:33:
: During the course of 1999, my roommate and I (who are the only two on our
: lease), had a temporary visitor for a few months. We were letting her live
: with us until she could find an apartment. She had her mail sent to our
: mailbox, and after she moved out, she didn't have all of her mail forwarded.
: We received a notice from our landlord that she was considered a tenant, and
: he wanted to see her tax information. We are rent stabilized, and she might
: put us over the $175,000 limit. We obviously do not want to lose our rent
: stabilized status, but we suspect the landlord is trying to make a case for
: this. Can we lose our rent stabilization status because of this?
ILLEGAL: She was not an 'illegal tenant': she was a very legal 'roommate' / 'occupant' as defined by the NY state 'Roommate Law'. Read about that by using Search here and on TenantNet Home.
TAX INFO: No regulated tenant is required to provide tax info to the landlord under any circumstances ever. Landlords and/or their lawyers sometimes ask for this and other personal info in situations like yours or in challenging primary residency or sublets. Tenants respond out of fear, sending unredacted bills, bank statements, tax returns, etc., thereby giving the landlord more ammunition for their attempt to remove the tenant from the apt and/or the apt from regulation. Tenants should call or bring the papers to a tenant organization ASAP for guidance (or to a tenant-lawyer, if you can afford one). Some tenant orgs are listed on TenantNet Home.
LUXURY DEREG: This was established by a 1993 law, modified in 1997 to reduce the income level to $175,000. It also provides the procedure that the landlord and DHCR must follow. An important note here is that the landlord must send the tenant an Income Certification Form (ICF) designed by DHCR which contains a request for occupant confirmation and income verification (just: is it below the threshold or not? NOT an actual income figure and NOT tax returns). It also gives the tenant some info about their rights and the procedures to be followed. See DHCR Operational Bulletin 95-3 and the 1993 law for more details (both on TenantNet Home) and this article on the whole 1993 law: file:///C|/Data/tenant.net/sjh.html
YOUR LANDLORD: If he is asking for tax returns, he is violating the law and your rights. If this request came from an attorney, so is he. And the attorney is further in violation of the Code of Ethics. There is no excuse for this: the law has been around for 7 years. You should file complaints against all of them: the problem is where and/or how. One illegal request doesn't meet the threshold for 'harassment'. I suggest you report them anyway to get it on the record.
YOUR INCOME: From the 1993 law:
"The administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding a new section 26-504.3 to read as follows:
SEC. 26-504.3 HIGH INCOME RENT DECONTROL.
(A) FOR PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, ANNUAL INCOME SHALL MEAN
THE FEDERAL ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME AS REPORTED ON THE
NEW YORK STATE INCOME TAX RETURN. TOTAL ANNUAL INCOME
MEANS THE SUM OF THE ANNUAL INCOMES OF ALL PERSONS
WHOSE NAMES ARE RECITED AS THE TENANT OR COVENANT ON A
LEASE WHO OCCUPY THE HOUSING ACCOMMODATION AND ALL
OTHER PERSONS THAT OCCUPY THE HOUSING ACCOMMODATION AS
THEIR PRIMARY RESIDENCE ON OTHER THAN A TEMPORARY
Similar wording controls the rest of NY state.
"temporary" is not defined further, so DHCR and the courts must use the common everyday definition. Mine is that your legal roommate was a temporary occupant. There are no decisions by DHCR or the courts that I am aware of on this subject. If and when your landlord sends you the proper request, yours might be the first. You'll probably need a lawyer to win; I suggest that you use a lawyer from the very beginning of the process, starting now with having one review this tax return request.
YOUR LAWYER: Contact any of the tenant lawfirms who recently won their luxury dereg cases in the Court of Appeals, the highest court in NY State, named in this recent article in the New York Law Journal: (Metz of Borah, Goldstein is the landlord's lawyer)
ANOTHER NOTE: Call DHCR, request a Rent History on your apt. Your landlord may have increase the rent to $2000 illegally.
: Also, the only way the landlord could have known about her name was to
: have seen her mail. Is that legal?
That's not the only way: even if your mail is delivered by the USPS into a locked mailbox (and not by the USPS to the building personnel who then put it in the box), the USPS sometimes leave it outside of mailbox if they can't identify the recipient. Also, landlords use PI's to gather info on tenants when they are seeking to evict or dereg. Contact your local USPS if you suspect mail tampering (federal violation).
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