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What are my rights?

Posted by Landlord Access on May 15, 2001 at 19:48:40:

This is a long story but... I'll try to make it brief. Basically I moved into the basement apartment of a brownstone, am a young single female and should never have taken this apartment. The realtor's father is the owner of the building, the father and son both share the same name, he took a broker's fee from me which I thought was questionable because I was under the impression it was illegal to take a broker's fee when you are the landlord of the building. I had a problem from the very start - no heat for three weeks with many promises to fix, finally fixed before I sent written notice. Since then I've had problems with the son (also the realtor). He comes over to the apartment unannounced, at innappropriate times (9p.m.) always under some pretense - checking on work that was done, informing me of something trivial that could be addressed in a phone call and spoke to me of his personal life, girls he was dating, bringing me pictures of them, asking advice. There have also been problems with landlord access. While I had no heat the father brought me an electric heater, then one day I come home and it's gone, he removed it from my apartment without notice or my permission and without my being there. Another time the son came by knocking on the door to let the tax accessor into my apartment. I was up and awake so I allowed them access, but it was without notice at 8:30 am. Finally I spoke with a neighbor two buildings down who told me some terible things about the son - he had harassed her subtly, the same way he was doing to me - talking of ex-girlfriends and at one point nearly assaulted her. After hearing this, I changed the locks in the apartment. Two days later, I was sleeping in my bed and heard keys in the door. Someone was trying to key into the apartment. I called the realtor's office and the secretary told me she had left a message on my cell phone saying that the landlord needed access to let the tax accessor in, but this was perhaps 15 minute notice. If I hadn't changed those locks, they could have come into the aprtment while I slept. I called the son and expressed my outrage, he told me that I had modified the lock and needed to give them a key. I refused and he threatened me with summary eviction proceedings. I told him to bring it on, as they breached the lease first. The father called me soon after and apologized giving me the option of a deadbolt, but I no longer feel safe, refuse to turn over the key, and would rather move out. Do I have the right to break my lease and get back my security deposit and broker's fee? Thanks ahead of time for a response.

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