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Do I owe back rent or not??-Brooklyn

Posted by Larry Auerbach on July 31, 1998 at 02:11:38:

I've been involved in a confusing rent strike situation
for the last three years here in Brooklyn with 3 other
neighbors. We live in an 8-unit rent-stabilized building.
3 years ago we initiated a rent strike when our landlord
disappeared for a few months and we were forced to deal
with paying for some building-wide repairs ourselves. A year
later (late '96), after several rounds in Housing court where
settlements were made and then disregarded by the landlord,
he disappeared again and apparently died. He had no immediate
family and no will. The building and the rest of his estate
floated in probate court until c. 12/97, when some relatives
of his were appointed as executors of his estate. Our tenants
association had been paying for the buiilding's utilities during
this uncertain period. Also, during this time, the registration
of the building as a multiple dwelling lapsed. The Estate of
our dead landlord commenced repairs on the building in April
'98, and in mid-July, the building was sold to a new owner. Rent
is finally being asked for as of August 1, and according to a
conversation I had with the new building manager, the building is
finally registered. According to our lawyer, since the building
had not been registered, for the last couple of years, the new
landlord is not entitled to collect any back rent, something she
had reassured us of repeatedly since late '96.

Is this true? It certainly would be great to not have to pay any
back rent given that we ran the building ourselves for a long time
without any apparent owner, but I would love to hear comments from
anyone knowledgable about weird situations like this.Thanks.

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