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Landlord tacks on "poor tax" in Westchester

Posted by Tami on July 25, 1998 at 19:06:45:

I'm posting this for a friend who doesn't have access to the internet. He lives in a rent-controlled apartment in Westchester County, and his rent is less than $350 per month. About a month ago he got his lease renewal from his landlord. Apparently the rider that includes info about tenants' rights under rent regulation, which normally appeared between the landlord's copy of the lease and the tenant's copy, had been torn out. The bigger problem: The landlord tacked $15 onto the rent. When my friend called about it, the landlord said he could sign or not sign, and hung up on him. My friend went to the state office in White Plains (DHCR, I guess), and they told him what the landlord did was wrong and gave him a bunch of paperwork. I assume they gave him stuff to file an overcharge complaint. But his question is, does he sign the lease with the illegal rent increase in it? If so, does he pay the illegal rent while waiting for his overcharge complaint to get settled, or not? He doesn't want to deal with something like paying his legal rent and then getting an eviction notice for nonpayment. His idea was that he'd pay the illegal rent; then, when he moves out of his apartment, which he'll be doing in a few years, he'll sue the landlord. I think that's a stupid idea; I see no reason for him to pay money he doesn't owe, plus I think it'll look questionable that he didn't take action earlier to rectify the problem. But I can see his dilemma. Any suggestions on how he ought to proceed? He only has about two weeks to sign his renewal. Thanks in advance.

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