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New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

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New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

Postby avenuebae » Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:18 am

My building changed owners on Monday, 3/18. I was only given notice there would be new owners two weeks ago when the then management guy knocked on my door saying the new owners wanted to inspect all apartments "in 30 seconds". I later saw an email was sent out an hour prior. Clearly illegal. I have a recording of me asking the management guy about this.

We have also gone most of the winter with little to no heat. We also had no hot water for three days during the ownership changeover. I filed a tenant harassment prevention claim to the AG just before the changeover, fearing I would not get my lease renewed because the landlord was made aware by HPD that I was the one filing 311 complaints (that's a whole other story).

My lease was due for renewal on 4/30. My new owner came today and told me he will not renew my lease and wants me out so the place can be renovated. He said because my lease was up around the time the new owners were coming in, they targeted my apartment as the first for renovation.

He then started making offers, like paying the broker's fee to my new place, or if I took an apartment owned by him, he'd wave the broker's fee and pay for movers. At the very end he said he could offer me my old apartment back for $3000 after renovations were made, a $700 increase. He then dangled the option of putting off renovations if I renewed at $2750.

I wonder if this is a gimmick to get me to agree to a rent increase.

I am not stabilized. I am looking at my rent history and when it was stabilized it went up from $448 to $1549 in 2003 after improvements were made. Currently doing detective work on this. Outside of building received a permit around the time of the 2002 rent reporting, total of $4000. I am wondering what the chance are of proving they did not do $40000 of repairs that is required to increase the rent that much, and whether I have a case to keep my apartment if I can keep them in litigation to re-stabilize it.

I am also wondering what happens if this court case should not get resolved by the time my lease is up on 5/1. I'm guessing DHCR is a bad route to go for an overcharge claim.

Also of note: It is the kind of building where it is two buildings in one, six units on each side. No shared hallway, but a shared garbage area and shared boiler. I understand these units are supposed to be stabilized.

I will go see a local tenant's advocacy group and call Legal Aid when they open, but also would like your opinions on what I can pull to stay in this apartment...preferably without the $450 rent increase.
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Re: New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

Postby TenantNet » Thu Mar 21, 2019 4:28 am

The question - as always - is whether your apartment should be rent stab or not. You posted in the non-RS section, so I'm assuming you don't think it is, but have you checked?

As for access for inspection, see the Access section in the forum's Reference section (link above). Even for unregulated tenants, the LL must give proper written advance notice. So treat his opening salvo as a negotiation, not giving in.

As for your lease, if you really are unregulated, there's no law that say the LL must give you a new lease.

They can bring a holdover in Housing Court to get you out, but that can take some time. If you were month-to-month, then the LL must give you 30 days written notice. But that wouldn't apply if you have a lease that's expiring. When it's over, it's over. See what your current lease says about renewal notices.

So on one hand I'd investigate if the unit should be RS and if you might have a claim for that, and on the other hand, you might start looking for a new place. Also be mindful of the tenant blacklist if you force it too far.

If there's no way around it, you could assert a retaliation defense and perhaps get another 6 months, or perhaps negotiate with the LL.

You can also consult with a tenant attorney who might have a better thought than we do.

Seems though like he's giving you options. Was the last one a significant increase from your current rent? In today's climate it's not that much (not that I would be happy about $2700).

What you describe is a "horizontal multiple dwelling" and with shared building functions, i.e., boiler, the total can be used to consider RS status. Although you said there are 6 units on each side, so it would be RS anyway ... and then units can be deregulated over time using High Rent deregulation.

The 2003 improvements are probably phony, but it's hard to prove and beyond the 4 year statute of limitations unless you can prove fraud. That's a very hard road.
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Re: New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

Postby avenuebae » Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:03 am

Since I'm paying market rate I thought I should reply here.

I think the $1100 jump is also phony and I'd like to pursue it. The thing is I paid my last month of rent and they are not giving me any payment information so it's like I'm forced to not pay rent after next month as this goes through the courts.

I understand I can file in Supreme or Civil for the rent overcharge claim? What's the difference between the two? Do I get blacklisted for suing them in these courts too? At what point in the housing court process do I get blacklisted?

It looks like he may negotiate. I also think there may be something fishy going on since he's giving me options. How do I start a retaliation defense?

I currently pay $2300. We're not happy but ok with $2700. $3000 is insane for this place. It will not go for $3000 once renovated, guaranteed.

How hard is it to prove fraud? I thought it's on them to supply receipts, bank withdrawals etc.
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Re: New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

Postby TenantNet » Thu Mar 21, 2019 10:07 am

AFAIK there's no tenant blacklist in Civil or Supreme Ct. They are more complicated than Housing Court and also have different maximum amounts of money that can be sought. I think they allow Discovery as-of-right where that is only available in Housing Court by a court order. I'm sure there are other things as well. Tenant can navigate through Housing Court (although for some it's not that easy), but Civil/Supreme really calls for an attorney. See http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/

Housing Court is only when tenants are in possession, not after they've left. Usually it's LLs suing tenants for back rent or claiming they've violated a lease or for a nuisance. Tenants can sue to force repairs (an "HP Action") or for illegal lockouts.

You can seek overcharged rent as a defense/counterclaim to a LL suit. But to initiate an overcharge, you would need to go to DHCR ... not always recommended, or to Civil/Supreme.

In the end, if you can negotiate, that avoids lengthy and costly litigation.
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Re: New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

Postby avenuebae » Thu Mar 21, 2019 11:47 am

So when they go to housing court to seek back rent, I automatically go on the blacklist? (Meaning it's the filing, not the judgment that does it?)

I hope to negotiate too. I am thinking this is their way of squeezing $450 more in rent out of us.

The gamble to restabilize it is enticing though. I can do it even after I sign a lease renewal though, so perhaps the best of both worlds is the way to go.

I MUST go to DHCR for overcharge? I swear I read on this website that DHCR is a pro landlord organization and going through them is slow and also more likely to not be in my favor, especially if it is appealed at the Court level.
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Re: New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

Postby TenantNet » Thu Mar 21, 2019 12:17 pm

In general, yes, that's the case. Credit reporting firms have someone there pretty much every day going through the court's computer. The attorney that's all over this is Jamie Fishman (one of our advertisers). It's also been discussed at length on the forum - search for it. In many cases, even if a case is subsequently dropped, the tenant still gets on the blacklist.

You can assert an overcharge as a defense or counterclaim in court. However some judges will tell you to file with DHCR. Most tenant activists agree that DHCR is pro-landlord.
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Re: New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

Postby avenuebae » Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:56 pm

I am thinking the smart move, if I want to stay, is to say "Okay fine, I'll pay your stinking $2750" then make the overcharge complaint.
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Re: New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

Postby TenantNet » Thu Mar 21, 2019 2:07 pm

Just to clarify, the blacklist is only in Housing Court, not Civil or Supreme. Some small-time LLs don't make use of it.

Of course with an overcharge complaint the LL will claim you aren't RS. So I would spend your energy putting together a viable claim for RS status. You could bring that in Supreme Ct. and avoid DHCR (I think).
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Re: New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

Postby avenuebae » Thu Mar 21, 2019 4:47 pm

I know.

So the overcharge complaint must be filed before lease is up as it is based on « hey im rs and you cant not renew my lease »!!! I will be dependent on tenancy advocacy orgs taking me on as i cant afford lawyers.

Also fwiw i searched dob records and there is no docs showing ownership has changed hands yet. Shady?
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Re: New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

Postby TenantNet » Thu Mar 21, 2019 4:59 pm

If you end up being RS, you're entitled to a renewal, so I don't think you're required to file prior to the current lease expiration.

For DHCR you don't need a lawyer, but you need a good case.

Actually for court an attorney is not required, just advisable.

Ownership (deeds) are in the DOF ACRIS database, not DOB. Even so, documents are often not submitted for many months afterwards.
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Re: New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

Postby avenuebae » Thu Mar 21, 2019 7:16 pm

Sure. I don't mean to take up a ton of your time, you've been so helpful, but I have more questions until I see a tenancy advocacy group on Monday.

I am on the borderline for whether I qualify for a community org lawyer to represent me, that's my hunch. Who knows. I know I cannot afford a lawyer.

Is there a way to know how good of a case I have before I am able to see IAI receipts, etc? I suppose the only way to see them is to ask the new landlord?

Based on this website's advice, it seems like going through DHCR is risky, if not foolish.

And sorry, yes I searched both DOF and DOB. DOF has nothing either. I wish there was some other way to find out if ownership really has changed hands.
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Re: New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

Postby TenantNet » Thu Mar 21, 2019 7:53 pm

Don't ask the new LL anything right now. If he's negotiating - whether in good faith or not - you don't want anything to screw that up.

There is no court case now, so it's unlikely that any group will commit to providing you with an attorney until something happens.

Yes, DHCR is risky, but a decision is often more nuanced than just that.
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Re: New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

Postby avenuebae » Fri Mar 22, 2019 12:13 pm

Yes I will stay quiet until I get more advice.

I was reading your replies to another post on grandfathering in old rules regarding window and ventilation requirements for bathrooms. What year exactly is the cutoff date for grandfathering? Mine has neither and the fridge also blocks the window that leads to the fire escape. Wondering if any of either of these things can work in my favor.
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Re: New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

Postby TenantNet » Fri Mar 22, 2019 1:24 pm

I'd have to see where that was addressed/said. There are options on whether to follow the 1968 Building Code or the more recent versions. I'm not an expert on that. But for things like ventilation, I can't imagine there would be a grandfathering provision, unless of course, the building is so old it can't be reconfigured.

For example, many NYC tenement buildings have entry stoops that might be 5-6 - or more - steps just to enter the building. And because of the nature of their construction, it would be very difficult to provide a ramp for the disabled/wheelchair without engaging in major reconfiguration of the building.

Some things might trigger a requirement for a ramp or elevator to get a wheelchair up to the entrance level. But even then, there are no interior elevators and halls are often too narrow for wheelchair passage.

Same for bathroom ventilation. If it doesn't have a window, it's supposed to have a ventilation fan. But many do not. If built in 1914 it would be near impossible to provide a ventilation shaft. However, if built later (i.e., in he 60's or 70's), I would think such a requirement would hold.

This is more common sense than specific citation. Consult an architect on specific questions like ventilation requirements, and when and whether a building must retrofit. Also for ADA compliance on entrance/egress issues. Then look for discussion on what is called "reasonable accommodation." In some cases putting in a ramp/elevator can be done, but in others it would call for expensive retrofit, i.e., not reasonable. In many cases nothing occurs unless there's a specific request made.
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Re: New owner refuses to renew lease 1 month before it's up.

Postby avenuebae » Fri Mar 22, 2019 1:38 pm

Okay, completely understood. Building was built in 1920 FWIW.
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