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Liability as undertenant?

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Liability as undertenant?

Postby RockyManning2 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 1:13 pm

I am a long time undertenant to a 2br apartment. The building (market rate) is trying to kick out the tenant (named on lease, lives in other bedroom). It's a holdover case that will probably not end till the Spring or even later. I was named in court papers as the undertenant.

What is my liability/responsbility? Is it only to the main tenant or the building (i have no lease with them).

Am I better off grabbing something now or waiting till the Spring and keeping my current situation?

Manhattan.
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Re: Liability as undertenant?

Postby TenantNet » Sun Oct 22, 2017 1:44 pm

The term "undertenant" can mean different things to different people, but usually in my experience is another word for a sublet, where the primary tenant is not living in the unit and the sublet is renting the entire space from the primary tenant.

By that definition, you are neither. In NYC parlance, as the primary tenant lives in the other bedroom, and I assume you share kitchen, bathroom and living room, you fit the definition of a roommate or occupant, and should be covered by the NYS Roommate Law (search for it on this site). Your obligation to pay your part of the rent is to the primary tenant, not the landlord, and should be defined in the agreement you have with the primary tenant, if there is one.

However, as you've discovered, the LL can seek possession of the entire unit, and that can mean eviction for you as well. The holdover means you could be evicted no matter what the status is of your paying rent to the primary tenant.

We can't say if you're better off now or later making alternative plans. However, if the case is strong against the tenant, then you probably shouldn't wait too long.
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Re: Liability as undertenant?

Postby TenantNet » Sun Oct 22, 2017 3:18 pm

A follow-up. See this article:
https://www.brickunderground.com/rent/r ... rights-nyc

While there are differences here, because you are named on the court proceeding, you might have some rights to fight the proceeding yourself. What rights those might be, I can't say, but you can answer and perhaps make motions. That could cause the process to be delayed. If the LL or prime tenant are eager to get this over with, you might be able to exact something out of either.

Not knowing the nature of the case, I'm reluctant to advise you to undermine the tenant's defense, but since a move will likely cause you a chunk of change, you might look for an equitable solution for yourself.

As for attorneys, you do have a right to one.

Understand that any attorney will take a percentage of whatever buy-out is agreed-to. We don't know the attorney in the article, so we can't recommend that firm. However, a number of tenant attorneys do advertise on this site. Some could give you a low-cost/free consultation.
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Re: Liability as undertenant?

Postby RockyManning2 » Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:16 pm

So assuming the case is lost and eviction happens in March. I am paying the tenant (sharing room as described above). So will I be liable in any way? Does court order go on my record?
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Re: Liability as undertenant?

Postby TenantNet » Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:32 pm

March is five months away and anything can happen. In some instances - usually with a good lawyer - an agreement is reached where the primary tenant vacates at some date in the future. Six months is not unheard of.

As I said, any liability for you would be to the tenant, not the landlord.

As for your record, there is a thing called the Tenant Blacklist. Search for it above in the forum - it's been discussed at length. There is a possibility your name would be on the blacklist. In the court proceeding, were you listed in your name, or by "John Doe?" If the latter, there's nothing to be worried about.

If you are concerned, the attorney to consult with is James Fishman (he advertises on this site).
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Re: Liability as undertenant?

Postby RockyManning2 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:24 am

Will contact.

Have you seen rent forgiven as negotiation to having a holdover move out? Just wondering what the building might offer since they dont have a case..
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Re: Liability as undertenant?

Postby TenantNet » Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:49 am

It depends on many factors ... the nature of the holdover proceeding, how much rent is outstanding (although it appears this would not apply to you), the judge assigned to the matter, the landlord and how much they like litigation, and the tenant's attorney, if any.

I don't think the building will offer you anything.
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Re: Liability as undertenant?

Postby BubbaJoe123 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:18 am

RockyManning2 wrote:Have you seen rent forgiven as negotiation to having a holdover move out? Just wondering what the building might offer since they dont have a case..


You mean rent that the tenant owes to the landlord? Or are you talking about rent you owe to the tenant? The landlord doesn't care about the latter, that's between you and the tenant.
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Re: Liability as undertenant?

Postby TenantNet » Wed Oct 25, 2017 2:07 pm

If it's an issue between the primary tenant and the roommate, the tenant can take the former roommate to small claims court (if under $5,000) or Civil or Supreme Court for higher amounts claiming the rent that is owed. They can't go to LL/T court after vacancy as no one is in possession and presumably no one seeks possession. (also the former roommate can take the tenant to court if there are claims, i.e. damages to possessions, or refund of any pre-paid rent if evicted by the landlord).

All the LL will want is outstanding rent from the tenant, and possession.
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