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Re: strand below about vacancy or renewal

Posted by Anna on February 21, 2000 at 12:52:43:

In Reply to: Re: strand below about vacancy or renewal HAVING to be signed posted by Tracy on February 21, 2000 at 10:36:10:

The classification of 'vacancy' and 'renewal' in rent stabilized leases refers to whether it is a lease with a new tenant (vacancy) or the exisitng tenant (renewal). This 1989 lease is neither; furthermore, it does not matter; this lease was court-ordered as part of the settlement. You should have her mail you photocopies/faxes of it and of all the 1989 court papers if you want to understand the complicated NY L&T rules & regs and help her long-distance. This was handled by an attorney; it was over ten years ago;: either one of those would be enough reason for a judge to say that it is too late to do anything about it now.

From 1989 to date, she should have been receiving the DHCR-required renewal form and riders 120-150 days before the end of each renewal term. These papers are described in the DHCR Fact Sheet on TenantNet and on the DHCR website. She can take the Dec 1998 'renewal lease papers' to DHCR's office, 25 Beaver St, 5th floor, 9:00am to 4:xxpm and have a counselor review them. She can file a complaint for failure to offer a renewal lease if they are not sufficient.

The owner-occupancy holdover proceeding:

If these 12/98 papers are not a proper renewal offer, are they legally sufficient to now refuse to renew for owner occupancy? I don't know. You can call Met Council 212.693.0550, MWF 1:30-5:00pm, if they don't know, they will refer you to a L&T attorney. Or call CWTF 212.982.5512, 2:00-5:00pm: sometimes a lawyer is available. (CWTF = City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court; fax 212.982.3036.

There are three ways that landlords lose these cases:

1. Dismissal for Legally Insufficient Predicate Notice: the non-renewal notice must be sent 1. at the time: 120-150 days before the lease term expires, 2. in the way ('service': by mail?), and 3. state what the law and the courts require. You can get a fairly good idea of these 3 elements by reading the code and some HC Decisions (search for 'owner occupancy' and again for 'Golub' in that section on TenantNet). The third element is really up to a judge but a good L&T lawyer can tell by reading the notice.

2. Dismissal for Legally Insufficient Complaint: After the lease expires, the landlord will start the actual lawsuit with a Petition/Notice of Petition. A good Tenant Attorney will read these carefully: if the landlords' attorney screws up, you win. NB: only a human being can sue for owner-occupancy, corporations/partnerships/companies/etc can't: call DHCR 718.739.6400 tomorrow, the Rent Registration History will list the owner's name.

3. On the Merits: If the landlord does not prove his case, you win. Although the burden of proof is officially on him, the tenant must be prepared to show why his claim that he intends to live there is probably not true.

As you can see, the amount of work an attorney must do to defeat this varies from a little to a lot, and so will the fee. The good news is that if the 1989 lease contains a clause that gives the landlord attorneys' fees, the tenant has a right to them also (translation: the losing party can get its fees reimbursed by the losing party, if the judge orders it; see RPL 234). Fees to expect: $150-250 per hour, $1500-2500 for dismissal before trial, more for trial, mlre for appeals. Also: these case often end in a settlement, a 'buy-out' where the landlord gives the tenant a few months and some money (taxable) to move out: your agreement with your lawyer might include a contingency for this (lawyer gets a share).

There are some tenant clinics that have lawyers in attendance (free) where your aunt could bring all (and I mean all: 1989, 1998, non-renwal notice, etc) pher papers. Others may not have lawyers, but do have very knowledgable counselors. Try these: West Side Tenants Union 212.595.1274; Chelsea Coalition 212.243.0544; VID in Greenwich Village 212.741.2994.

Finally: don't answer this in this very public forum: are you doing this because she doesn't have internet access or because she really can't quite handle her own affairs but is not totally disfunctional? If it is the latter: find out about the Guardian Ad Litem: search for that in HC Decisions and ask the tenant groups that you call.

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