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Desperately Seeking Legal Advice/Representation/HELP!!!

Posted by Jessica on February 09, 1999 at 23:34:42:

I viewed and made an application for my rent stabilized apt. last March, was accepted and signed a lease and a crate full of riders for it and gave over money orders for the first months rent and security in April at the landlord's/management company's office. Although I was given authorization from the landlord/management company to pick up the keys for the apartment from the super, they did not give me a copy of what I signed because they claimed that the person responsible for signing the documentation at their end, was out of the office that day and the executed copies of the documentation would be left for me at my building the following Monday. Not remotely forseeing a problem with this, I left their offices and went directly to the building to pick up the keys. Two hours later, whilst waiting at my old apt. for my removal men, I received a message from the landlord's/management company's office claiming that the rent that I had signed a lease to earlier that day was incorrect and should have been nearly $100 more per month. After trying repeatedly to contact their offices via phone over the course of that weekend to no avail, I moved the remainder of my stuff into the apt. Less than a week later they cashed the money orders that I had handed over during the lease signing, and continued to insist that I pay the corrected amount in rent. That is how it this began. Later after repeated attempts in writing to try and resolve the situation with the landlord/management company whilst continuing to pay rent for the apt. (in accordance with the original lease that I signed), I made a complaint to the DCHR for lease violations. That was in October. A month later the landlord/management office cashed the rent checks I forwarded to them (all of which they had been holding up unto that point) and UPS'ed me an agreement and an unsigned two year lease for the corrected rent. By this time however, my building had been converted to individual metering and I was entitled to a rent decrease as a result. I informed them in writing that I was not gonna sign the "new" lease or the agreement and was gonna wait for a ruling from the DHCR. Last month the landlord contacted me via telephone trying to settle. I reiterated to them again that I was waiting to hear from the DHCR. (I was still, however, sending then rent checks for the original amount, which they have continued to cash.) They then send me a petition to appear in court for non-payment of rent. (They want me to pay the "remaining balance" of rent owed as a result of the "correction" back dated to April plus their legal fees). Because I did not wish to settle with them in court, the case will now be going to trial at the beginning of next month. ( I have been told since that if I had had a lawyer with me at this stage, it probably would have been a done deal already). Although I am certain that I have a very very strong case, I do not want to be blind sided by some obsure technicality. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE HELP!!!! I am starting to feel overwhelmed.

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