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Posted by Me on October 08, 2001 at 10:29:47:

FIRST: Please people, do NOT reference NY CITY rules, this is in New York State, but NOT New York City.

I'm checking this out for a friend of mine that just told me briefly her story last night. This only happened within the past week or so. When I heard who her new landlord was, I just knew she has to do something. So, a few questions, comments, and some "what-if's". This maybe a small apartment building, probably no more than 10 apartments if that many. This friend of mine is not your typical stereotype bum of a tenant, she's a nurse with a FT job, has a PT job too, and goes to school too! Thanks in advance.

Her landlord sold the house (I don't know anything about him). New landlord is a persistent tax delinquent and your typical slumlord. Anyway, I don't know at the moment if she had a lease with the old landlord or a month-to-month. If month-to-month, I don't know if there was a written agreement.

Under these various circumstances (lease vs none, etc) was the previous building owner under any obligation to notify her that he was planning on selling this building? That a sale was imminent? That a closing is scheduled, etc? If so, must such notification be in writing to tenant(s)? Must notification, whether verbal or written, be done any certain time prior to the closing? If there was a lease with the former landlord, is it totally void upon new ownership? Must a new owner offer a lease or other agreement upon taking ownership? May a new owner issue a 30 day eviction notice immediately upon taking ownership (how about if tenant didn't know about sale)?

Apparently the only way to access the basement is through her apartment. I am of the understanding that landlord must ask permission to enter one's apartment, I don't know the reason he needed to get to the basement. Are there any circumstances under which the new landlord may enter her apartment to get to basement without her prior approval or knowledge (e.g., what type of emergency?). Apparently her cats were missing for a while because the new landlord wasn't careful.

She had to call the police I think about him coming into her apartment, and she asked him how he can afford to buy another house when he owes hundreds of thousands in delinquent property taxes to the city.....then he was saying something about suing her for about $5,000 for somekind of damages to the property.....mind you, he hasn't even been the owner for a week yet!

She mentioned the heat not being turned on yet and asked me if October was the date....I did find that to be accurate. So last night it was 33 degrees, tonight it's supposed to go to 27 degrees. The new landlord must turn it on, right? What does one do? Today is a holiday, state offices are closed, how can she get heat? OK, maybe tomorrow. But, what kind of rigomorole must she go through. If the new owner won't turn on the heat (not yet anyway), what recourse does she have? Can she call the power company and have it turned on in his name? In her name? What if the furnace that services her apartment also heats other apartments, she wouldn't want to pay for others' heat. What process must she take? It would be pathetic if she has to find a lawyer, get a court date, appear in court, etc. that could take weeks.....just to get the heat on.

As of yesterday, she mentioned that the new landlord apparently had not asked for rent payment yet (but he's so greedy, I can't believe he'll ignore that). So, if he doesn't turn the heat on, it's not like she can withhold rent.

I don't know if she had a security deposit with the former owner. If so, upon her leaving, to whom does she request/demand return of security deposit? Any difference of reaction if it's the former owner vs the new owner?

I suggested she contact a local tenant organization who seemed to indicate that lots of these issues are so common and there's not much that can be done. In other words, just find a new place as quickly as possible and forget the rest, put it behind you, etc. That may be the route to take, but I can't help think of what this new owner said about suing her for damages....I'm going to suggest to her that she take some pictures of every room, now, to show no damages. I want to tell her to "fight" but there is a point of diminish and return, and I'm a bit biased only because as a property taxpayer I know I am among the many property taxpayers who are paying this guy's property taxes while he is a persistent delinquent who declares bankrupcy which then prohibits the city from seizing his properties in tax foreclosures.

Thanks much

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