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Landlord limiting visitors?

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Landlord limiting visitors?

Postby itsmenotyou23 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:20 pm

Hi all,

I'm new to the forum. Did an archive search but didn't find anything exactly the same as my situation.

I live in Brooklyn and re-signed a lease in September for an apartment I've lived in since September 2009, and have had relatively no problems with my landlord. She likes that my roommate and I are quiet when we're home. One of her "rules" (which was never put in writing) is that she has to approve visitors who stay for more than three days. However, both I and my roommate have had friends from out of town stay for a week or two without notifying her, she has had no problem with it and has seen them come and go. We've never come to blows over this.

My new boyfriend works late, and he'll come over after work (maybe once a week, probably less frequently) at around 2 AM; in the morning, I let him sleep in while I head off to my place of employment. By my roommate's account, he is not a disturbance because he is sleeping most of the time. He leaves quietly of his own accord, or if he doesn't have to work, he'll hang out in my apartment and wait for me to return.

My landlady is now threatening to evict because she says that I am currently violating her rules by allowing my boyfriend to sleep over. Her arbitrary rules for him (again, not in writing) are that he cannot come over before sunrise and that he must leave by midnight, and that he cannot be in the apartment when I'm not home. She also claims that he is a disturbance by coming over at 2 AM, even though he is very quiet when entering the apartment. (Full disclosure: twice he smoked in the apartment, which is not allowed per our lease; after a verbal warning, he never did it again. I think he made things worse by trying to apologize to her, which apparently didn't go well for him.)

Is she legally allowed to tell me that he can or can't come over? And can she evict me over this if he is not being a nuisance to the building? I think our landlord-tenant relationship has already soured over this, but as much as she doesn't like me breaking her rules, I don't like being treated like I'm in boarding school.
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:05 pm

Is this an apartment with its own entrance or a rooming house type situation where one has to enter through a common area used by the LL and other tenants?

How many units in the building?
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Postby itsmenotyou23 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:25 pm

I am renting a full apartment from the landlord. The front door has separate buzzers for each apartment, and there is no common area shared by any of the tenants except for the main foyer (where the mailboxes are located).

It is in a brownstone with three units (technically four, but the two lower units are used by the landlord).
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Postby TenantNet » Wed Dec 14, 2011 12:13 am

In that case the LL has no business being nosy about your private life. LL's can have reasonable rules, but IMHO that does not mean you can't have visitors, even if he tiptoes in past midnight. Would the LL rather have you coming in at 3 AM and slamming the door? Also check to see what the lease says.

By law, you are allowed to have a roommate no matter what the LL says.

But be careful, if not regulated the LL could decide to not renew your lease. I would exercise your rights but try to come to a reasonable accommodation so the nosy LL settles down.
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Postby ronin » Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:42 pm

Does this Brownstone have a completely separate entrance to your apartment? or are you going into the LL living area to get to your place?

That doesn't sound like any brownstone I know. Brownstones (in Brooklyn at least) usually have a very common stairwell as they were originally designed to be single family homes (or extended family). Bathrooms and other rooms to the apartments sometimes require occupants to go in the common stairwell to get to the other half of the apartment.

If it's a situation like that then the LL is understandable. No matter how quiet you think your BF is at 3 am in the morning, in many brownstones you can hear the "quiet" entry as something akin to moving furniture (as the wooden stairs magnify the sound to the apartments below).

If you're in a situation like that, then you really cannot win. If it is her common area, blam you lose. If it is not, you win round one and then she give you the boot instead of a lease renewal. Look at it this way, she lives there. When you came to rent you didn't come with your boyfriend as a roommate or cotenant. She selected you because she thought she could live with you. Now you have added another unwelcomed tenant to her living environment and are stressing her out.

If this was a solid regular apartment building, then ok all Tenant says goes. But for a family brownstone I don't think it's all that unreasonable for a live-in LL to say "hey, what the hell's goin' on up there" when her tenants begin to multiply without notice. And her set of rules is downright generous.

Truth be told though, I was in your BF shoes when I was in college. And I would visit my girl in their private fully detached home using the common entrance. They were extremely laid back about it, but my GF's roommate was the one to complain to us and lay down the rules (I could only sleep over once a week unless she was away)! And she had a valid point.

IMHO
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Postby TenantNet » Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:34 am

Ronin, he answered that. Many people confuse brownstones with tenements.
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Postby itsmenotyou23 » Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:31 am

Ronin, I answered this above. I've lived in Brooklyn all my life, grew up in a single-family brownstone like the one you described. I know a thing or two about them. There are also a lot of brownstones that were built or renovated for mulitple occupancy.

To reiterate (and more specifically): in mine, as with many other multi-tenant brownstones, the apartment is linear (i.e., the layout runs from living room straight back) to conform with the brownstone form. Except for the main entrance and the stairwell, there is no common space shared between tenants. One does not have to exit to the main stairwell to get to any other part of the apartment; once you are "in" the apartment, you're in there. Essentially, my apartment is the only space I ever have to occupy.

Also, my boyfriend only visits once a week, if that.

Also, I would not have an issue with this if she didn't choose to selectively enforce this specific one. For example, I had a boyfriend when I first moved in who spent the night about three nights a week, but she never minded because she "liked" him (her words).
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Postby TenantNet » Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:08 am

And with many issues, there are practical tips on how best to proceed (and in some cases being accommodating), but there are also legal rights. Having a 4-wall apartment means you control the space. Legally you can have whatever visitors you desire assuming you're not exceeding occupancy standards) and you can even have roommates without the LL's permission.

But there are also ways to at least make an effort to keep the peace, even if it means not fully exercising your rights. And of course the thing to keep in mind is, that if unregulated, come lease time the LL can decide to not renew the lease. You can claim retaliation, but that only goes so far.
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Postby ronin » Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:01 am

What Tenant says above is 100% on point.

If your Brownstone is modified to be like a regular apartment building then my statement above is withdrawn.

The most interesting new info you shared is that of the LL not minding your prior boyfriend. That's just... random. :shock:
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