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Counter suit without an original lease

Posted by Christopher Calitri on September 06, 2001 at 12:27:34:

I am looking for a second opinion on a legal issue. We have just spent two years and about $5000 defending ourselves in a lawsuit filed by our landlord. We live in a rent stabilized apartment on the upper east side. About two years ago the landlord claimed my wife, then fiancee, was subletting the apartment to me and living in Boston. She has resided there for seven years and I moved in 1998. We believe because our apartment is rent stabilized that they wanted us out to renovate and increase the rent like they had done with almost every other apartment in the building. They have been able to move the rent of the apartment next door from $950 to $1650. We also know with recent changes in the laws that when they get the rent to $2000 the apartment is no longer rent stabilized and becomes fair market value. Hence why they have renovated every apartment in the building except three.
We hired an Attorney who we told we wanted to defend ourselves (and not be bullied out of our apartment) but we also wanted to retrieve any expenditures in a counter suit. His initial advice was that would be no problem. Recently, a new building mgr. took over and has decided the suit is foolish and offered us a new lease. This was the end of the suit and we have signed another two year lease addendum.
Our problem is when my wife moved in seven years ago she never received a copy of the original lease, she came in as a sublessor and was never given a copy of the original lease. Each year she has signed the lease addendum. We have approached our Attorney about a counter sue and he tells us without an original lease we cannot sue for legal fees. We have tried to get a copy from the landlord but they claim they don't have one. What can we do? Can we subpoena the original lease? Do we need an original lease to counter sue for legal fees? Is our Attorney correct? Please email me at
Thank You
Christopher & Beth Calitri

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