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liability for rent increase after lease expires

Posted by dsb on November 13, 1998 at 17:03:35:

We live in an unregulated 2BR apartment in Brooklyn; the building has 3
residential units and the landlord occupies the basement commercial
space with his real estate business. Our rent is $2200.

We have lived in the apt 4 years without incident and the landlord has
raised the rent $100-200 with each lease renewal. This year we had a
terrible dispute over rent abatement after the landlord conducted major
renovations on the apartment without notice. The renovations entailed
removal of the back wall of the building, creating inhabitalbe conditions
though we didn't move out, we just suffered) and some damage to our stuff.

After some negotation we were $2200 apart on a reasonable settlement
for this situation. Eventually we decided to pay this disputed amount,
realizing that when the lease expired the landlord would raise the rent
to recover any rent we withheld in connection with the dispute.

Even though we settled the dispute on his terms, on 10/14, 2 weeks prior
to the expiration of our lease, the landlord sent us a notice indicating
that if we wanted to renew our lease the new rent would be increased by
$700 to $2900. We cannot afford the increase and plan to move, but it's
unlikely we will be able to find a new place prior to Jan 1. Although we
delivered a check for $2200 on Nov 1, the landlord returned it to us,
demanding $2900 and a signed lease. We don't want to sign the lease or pay
the increase, so we are living without a lease and negotiating with the
landlord for a more reasonable rent for the next month or two.

Any help with the following questions would be greatly appreciated:

Are we legally liable to pay more than $2200 for Nov and Dec rents?

Do we have any recourse if the landlord rents to the next tenant for
less than $2900?

If we don't pay any more rent (on the argument that the landlord took
$2200 from us under false pretenses, since such payment did not settle our
dispute, and he has the security deposit to cover Dec rent) and the
landlord sues us and wins, might we be liable for his attorney's fees?

What is the down side of not paying anything and waiting to see if the
landlord takes legal action? Can we just pay those amounts to "cure" the
arrearage and remove his economic damages after he brings us to court
(but prior to any hearing)?

What are our chances if he does take us to court?

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