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Did not know I couldn't charge my roommate more...

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Did not know I couldn't charge my roommate more...

Postby gusbaby19+me » Fri May 24, 2019 1:31 am

I live in a rent stabilized building, and rent a bedroom in my apartment. I am also on SCRIE (have lower rent). I did not know that I could not charge my roommate more money than what I pay. I thought I had to always charge a roommate half of what the rent would be if I wasn't on SCRIE in case I started making over the maximum you can earn on SCRIE. Recently, my roommate found out somehow, and he has filed a complaint with the NYC agency that handles such matters because she's asking to be reimbursed the amount I was overcharging her for 6 mos. I really did not that there was such a law. I'm very afraid now of losing my apartment of 20 years. What can I do? Thank you.
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Re: Did not know I couldn't charge my roommate more...

Postby TenantNet » Fri May 24, 2019 2:16 am

Most situations like this involve the renting of a bedroom to the roommate and allowing full access to other rooms such as living room, kitchen, bath, etc., and an appropriate division of utility costs. One really can't quibble over the rented room being a bit smaller than the prime tenant's bedroom.

Without getting into all the technical issues, the first thing you should probably do is reimburse him/her, and you should let the agency know you've made the reimbursement. If nothing else, that should get you past the issue of owing treble damages. And chances are it could make your claim to continued tenancy stronger.

You also don't say if the complaint was filed with the SCRIE office (NYC Dept. of Finance) or with DHCR, a state agency. Neither agency can do actual evictions, but if the landlord gets involved, you could be at risk.

Yes, tenants have lost their RS units for engaging in overcharging. That's taking advantage of the system and profiteering. Even without the SCRIE issue, charging more than half the legal rent can get you in a boatload of trouble.

Take a look at http://tenant.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=10580
and search the forum for additional discussions.

One decision says, "I would affirm the holding of Appellate Term, First Department, which applied the rule it has developed through its own common-law jurisprudence since enactment of that provision—that the remedy of eviction is permitted where the evidence demonstrates intentional commercial profiteering from roommates by the tenant of record."

Without doing additional research, I can't say how SCRIE would affect this situation. If your legal rent is $1000 and pursuant to SCRIE, you only pay $800 out-of-pocket, then how does one determine what half is? I would say you should err on the side of caution and only charge the roommate half of what you actually pay, in this example $400. If you went the other way, the roommate would pay you $500 and your share paid to the LL is only $300. Can you see how that might be seen as profiteering?

And be thankful you weren't charging the roommate something that's even more than the legal rent. If that were the case, your would have completely free rent and pocket the excess. That is the worst kind of profiteering, and tenant advocates would have little sympathy for a RS tenant who engages in something like that.
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Re: Did not know I couldn't charge my roommate more...

Postby TenantNet » Sun May 26, 2019 8:11 am

One thought - if you don't mind some advice. We found you on the internet. It was very easy. Don't be alarmed, we check on all users to prevent spam and abuse from hackers. We often get 20 or more hack attempts per day from place like Russia, China and other countries. This forum obviously is mostly for local issues. We often use https://www.stopforumspam.com/ as a resource.

In any case, with very little information, we found sites that mention your name, your email address, your phone number and even one where you were offering a room for rent (from 2009). None of that is necessarily illegal. But if we found it, so can your landlord. And yes, that happens a lot from people/groups that spend a lot more time and effort than we do. LLs bring tenants to court often with incorrect information obtained on the web.

All we're saying is be careful, protect your information and it is probably wise to remove ads to rent your extra room(s).
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Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
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