TenantNet Forum

Where tenants can seek help and help others



Breach of Warrant of Habitability - 20 months later

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

Moderator: TenantNet

Breach of Warrant of Habitability - 20 months later

Postby nycrenteristic » Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:14 pm

Hi all -

Some background: Rented in Brooklyn for about 3 years in a rent regulated apt - paid all of my rent on time and in full every month. I needed to vacate my family from the apartment - it was a breach of the warranty of habitability.

I realize this is a judgment call but even on the day I moved in the super confirmed that all of the apartments on my line has had issues with insects (CRs). The cabinets were in an abysmal state when I moved in. Office refused to repair them. I spent $600 on cleanup and new boards for the cabinets.

At some point something escalated - the problem grew beyond our reach despite using every best practice (not a scrap of anything anywhere!). We had to shut down usage of the shelves and cabinets. We moved - left a message with the office and send a move-out letter. Return receipt and all. No response from the landlord.

We literally heard nothing for 20 months. In fact the day we moved out the super texted the office and they did not reply to him. He himself was growing frustrated with the office.

All of a sudden we get a letter from a lawyer trying to collect a debt - saying we owe $4,000+. (They did not state what it was for). It feels like a ploy to engage me.

(I realize the LL has 6 years to follow on unpaid rent). In my mind this is not a lease break - if the landlord has breached the warranty of habitability the lease is null and void as far as I'm aware. Again I understand that only really a judge can rule on this....

The letter says something along the lines that if I do not reply within 30 days they will assume the charge is valid. Obviously that is simply a scare tactic because there's no law that says if you don't reply to mail w/in 30 days everything in the letter is magically true.

But I guess I'm curious what would even happen if just ignore this letter?
Do I even bother to respond? If so, I am thinking I re-state my case that I fulfilled all my obligations and let the chips fall where they may.

I have lots of proof of the move in condition and quite a few pictures with respect to proving my case, as well as the fact that they have put myself and other tenants in danger. *Part of me* is very confident and would actually want to go to small claims court to see this through (I could probably recoup the $600 possibly and frankly all the money I spent b/c I had to move) but surely I have better things to do.

I've dealt with things like this in the past, but I'm open to suggestions. Would would you all do?
nycrenteristic
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2019 1:39 pm

Re: Breach of Warrant of Habitability - 20 months later

Postby TenantNet » Tue Mar 19, 2019 3:01 pm

Why would you need to vacate your family and what would that have to do with WOH? Did the LL or city tell you they had to go? Or was it your choice? I'm not understanding. Please clarify.

Yes, roaches/vermin are a WOH issue and the LL is obligated to get rid of them. However, most LLs just send a guy over who sprays under the sink and that's it. That does nothing. There are many solutions for roaches and the internet has pages on this topic.

In the end though, they will be where they are nested, and the real solution is tenant cleanliness. Not saying it's you; it can be the previous tenant or a nearby neighbor.

Yes, the statute of limitations is 6 years, but you don't say how long ago this occurred. It used to be that when a tenant left the LL had to make a demonstrable effort to re-rent the place (i.e., reduce the economic impact from the loss of tenants). But that's no longer the case.

Just curious who the LL is and who the LL's attorney is. I've seen this before. Can you tell us who they are using Private Mail? (use the PM button next to each post - don't put it on the public area of the forum).

From what you've told me, you still have a WOH counter-claim/defense for abatement and/or that the place was uninhabitable. Did you make complaints to 311? Were violations placed? Any documentation from any professionals? Neighbors? New tenant? Photos/video?

I would also look at the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and other debt collection rules (not an expert here on that stuff), but the "30 days assume it's valid' sounds familiar.

If it's just a letter, I don't think you must respond. But still there might be the inference they state. You're no longer in possession, so it's really not a LL/T issue, but a debt issue. There are web sites, professionals and attorneys that deal with this stuff.

Of course if you get legal papers, then you do have to respond. I would certainly look into it to see what the rules are in your situation, but hold off engaging with them unless/until it's prudent.
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Subscribe to our Twitter Feed @TenantNet
TenantNet
 
Posts: 9102
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2002 2:01 am
Location: New York City

Re: Breach of Warrant of Habitability - 20 months later

Postby nycrenteristic » Tue May 21, 2019 7:17 pm

I received a summons.

A few interesting things:

1. The address where I lived is incorrect. It's close but %100 not the address I lived in.
I wonder if this invalidates the summons.

2. The summons was handed to the door man. He handed it to my gf. If I understand correctly I have 30 days to respond from the 'proof of service' that is filed with the Clerk.

The summons says "dated 4/24/2019" and also has a clerk's office stamp of May 01, 2018. If I do respond I believe it should be thirty days after when the file the proof, if they do.


A) It seems like they must file proof w/in 3 days:

" When a landlord-tenant case is started, the Affidavit of Service must be filed three days or less after personal delivery or mailing to the respondent."

as per https://www.nycourts.gov/CourtHelp/Goin ... vice.shtml


B) Further it seem it was done in error:

"It is o.k. to serve respondent’s babysitter, but it’s not o.k. to serve a neighbor or doorman."
as per https://www.nycourts.gov/CourtHelp/Goin ... uted.shtml

I will be researching more, but open to comments.
nycrenteristic
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2019 1:39 pm

Re: Breach of Warrant of Habitability - 20 months later

Postby TenantNet » Tue May 21, 2019 8:30 pm

If you are no longer in possession of the apartment, then this should not be in Housing Court. It should be in either Civil or Supreme Court.

Check the service requirements; this sounds pretty sketchy. I do not believe "service" on a doorman is legal. You would have to demand a Traverse to contest service.

I don't know what "30 days to respond" means. You have been sued. You need to put in an Answer and Traverse demand.

The Petition would need to specify which months they are seeking back rent. It can't be just some number they pulled out of the hat.

I would suggest consulting with an attorney. Do not succumb to this sort of harassment.
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Subscribe to our Twitter Feed @TenantNet
TenantNet
 
Posts: 9102
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2002 2:01 am
Location: New York City

Re: Breach of Warrant of Habitability - 20 months later

Postby nycrenteristic » Tue May 21, 2019 9:39 pm

Thanks. I guess I left out a few pieces of info. Apologies, I'm still bit new to the precise verbiage here.

Yes, this is for civil court. They did outline the months they believe are in question.

The "30 days to respond" probably should have been written as 30 days to "appear and answer". That's how the summons was technically written.
nycrenteristic
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2019 1:39 pm


Return to NYC Rent Regulated Apartments

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests

cron