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Re: advantages of various courts

Posted by Stacy on June 20, 2001 at 09:28:34:

In Reply to: advantages of various courts posted by chelsea on June 15, 2001 at 21:36:40:

: The following, the part between the dashes, is from a posting by NYHawk during an earlier discussion on this forum of the advantages of the various courts:

: --------------------

: The law allows tenants three options: either filing a rent overcharge complaint with DHCR, starting a lawsuit in Supreme Court
: (Civil Court if the amount in controversy is under $25,000.00) or, most commonly, counterclaiming (suing the other party who
: sued you in the same lawsuit) in a non-payment proceeding in Housing Court.

: Supreme Court is clearly a much better place to sue alleging a rent overcharge for several reasons: Supreme Court usually has
: better judges than in Housing Court; the rules of procedure in Supreme Court are much better from a tenant's perspective than
: in Housing Court (most significantly discovery is available in Supreme Court, but only available with permission in Housing
: Court, and hard to get); if a tenant is counterclaiming in Housing Court it is a defensive posture, rather than an offensive posture
: if suing in Supreme Court.

: The option of filing a rent overcharge complaint with DHCR seems to be the worst option of all three, but the one tenants seem
: to select the most. (Perhaps because of their unawareness of the pitfalls of filing a complaint with DHCR.) First, it takes a very
: long time to have DHCR decide a rent overcharge complaint, and in the event the tenant wins the landlord can appeal (called a
: PAR) without having to put up the overcharge award amount. (In contrast, in a Supreme Court case, if the landlord wanted to
: appeal, it would have to put up the judgment amount or a bond (the equivalent of the full money amount). Having to put up the
: money is certainly a disincentive for a landlord to appeal. Also, the PAR appeal will likely take a few more years. Second,
: DHCR is very pro landlord. This is now a given and to discuss that point any further is foolish.

: --------------------------

: Since I've heard of very few overcharge cases in
: "regular" (non-Housing) Civil Court or in Supreme Court, I decided to look some up. I think's housing cases are just from Housing Court. I wasn't able to find any on Nexis either. I was just wondering, how common are these cases? Has any on the forum had experience with them? Do they really work out better than Housing Court?

: Chelsea

Not the issue you asked about, but something worth mentioning that I think Hawk overlooked in his still extremely useful overview: Many tenants don't go with DHCR because they think it's the best option, they choose it because it's the only affordable option. The difference between filing with DHCR (free) and using a lawyer to file a case in either Civil or Housing Court is sizeable. Yes, if the tenant wins there's a good chance the landlord will be stuck with lawyer's fees, but initiating a case still requires an up-front investment of several thousand dollars. How many NYC tenants can afford that?

For over a year now I've been collecting information and talking to lawyers about my own open-and-shut case of overchange, illegal removal from rent stablization, and key money. The paper trail on our apartment shows astonoishingly blatant fraud, but I'm highly reluctant to tackle court in a landlord case without a lawyer. And every lawyer I've consulted has said that fighting this case in court will cost $1,500 - $10,000 up-front. Which I can't afford. So I've finally thrown in the towel and prepared to file with DHCR. I know that makes it more likely I'll lose, but since I can't afford to fight this in court, it's my only option.

And to me, that's the most frustrating aspect of the system: Not only are the landlords able to perpetrate these ridiculous frauds, but because there's no enforcement mechanism, they're able to get away with illegal activities even *after* they're discovered because tenants can't afford to fight these problems in a non-corrupt forum. It's astonishing.

/end rant. thanks.

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