Posted by Working Mom on October 15, 1999 at 08:41:46:
I think I just made a big mistake. I signed a stipulation in Housing Court, NYC.
The first thing I want to say is a personal problem that I'll probably get over in a few days after I talk to my priest BUT this is also a warning for anyone in Housing Court: I had to lie to the judge and say that I understood everything and I was doing this 'voluntarily'. I'm very upset that I lied, and I hate them all for making me do it. We all knew this landlord had a knife to my throat. They've been lying to both judges and harassing me in and out of court. They weren't going to stop.
A little history:
I have a 1.5 bedroom apartment which I got when I was Section 8. I'm working now that my daughter is in preschool. I've already been looking for a new place; I might find a one-bedroom for about the same rent, which is Ok for a couple of years.
Getting repairs from this landlord has always been a problem, I had to call and write and get an HPD violation and take many days off work before anything got fixed. So when part of the kitchen ceiling fell down, after doing all that, I withheld half of the rent. Six months later, after they 'fixed' the ceiling, they filed a non-payment. I missed ten more days of work for court days and access days (mostly no shows by them) to take care of some repairs: roaches, mice, plumbing, the ceiling again. That judge would not order a rent abatement, so we ended up with a trial judge. The trial judge said 'can't we settle this?'. She also said that harassment and retaliation would not be considered and hinted that the abatement would be much smaller than the unpaid amount.
Then they suddenly offered a buyout, good for one hour only (no time to se the pro se lawyer): an hour later I signed it. Everyone wanted us out of that apartment: me, my family, my employer, them.
They send a real plumber to fix the leaks upstairs and in my apartment within 2 weeks, I move out by Jan 31, I pay no rent until then, and we can't sue each other again.
The questions I forgot to ask:
I don't really understand everything: can/should I call or visit the trial judge or her assistant to ask these questions?
If some of you can answer some of these questions, maybe I can avoid that:
Months ago, I filed complaints with DHCR (general harassment, reduction of services) and Human Services (sex harassment by the super) and the police, too: am I supposed to cancel these? And does this no-lawsuit clause mean I can't file the civil lawsuit against them or the super that these agencies suggested?
If they don't fix the leaks, I can go back with an OSC, but what happens if the super harasses me again in the next 3 months? And why did this judge say 'harassment doesn't belong in Housing Court': it is printed right there on the OSC form with yes/no boxes to check off.
Three months might not be enough time, but she said this was final: is it?
The super isn't licensed and lives too far away: does this no-lawsuit clause mean I can't report old things like this to HPD?
I still get my security deposit back, right? But if they don't refund it: do I have to tell this judge or use small claims like this web site says?
(I'm sorry if I asked too many questions here, but I think a lot of tenants, not just me, would like to read the answers somewhere)
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