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Gaining on the swings, losing on the roundabout

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Gaining on the swings, losing on the roundabout

Postby Luddite » Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:07 am

M2M tenant of many years, always on time with rent, never a problem. Building, downtown Manhattan (two legal apartments + basement). LL wants unconscionable increase, starting next month. I have the following questions:

1. I paid my rent on the first of this month, several months in advance as I'm going to be out of town, but all at the old rent rate (LL wants the increase for the others). The Landlord's realtor-factotum returned my check over two weeks later saying they couldn't accept multiple-month checks and that I was now in arrears. They have accepted a multiple month check in the past (I have proof) and have never indicated this was a problem.. Can they do this, remake the rules as they go? Is it illegal for the realtor to hold my check for so long before returning it and claiming I'm in “arrears” (I don't know they're not accepting it until they return it)? Am I in arrears if for this month (the last at the old rate) if he refuses to cash my offered check? Do I gain anything strategically from paying the last month at the old rent separately at this point, which he will of course accept.

2. There is an illegal basement apartment in the building. My argument overall is that before a landlord can call on the laws of the land to enforce his right to charge what he wants, he must also conform to the law. I'm refusing to pay an increase in rent until the illegal basement apartment goes (he gains on the swings, he loses on the roundabout), but I'm willing to pay at the old rent or even a reasonable increase. I'm expecting him to give me a month's notice next month, then take me to court. Does my refusal logic have merit legally rather than merely morally, i.e. is it worth taking to court? I can't afford to stay in the long run; I just want to fight him for as long as I can.

3. On the realtor. I presume he has legal requirements to have a RE license. Is he breaking the law by knowingly renting an illegal basement apartment? Where can I research more on this?

4. Is there a standard way to bring the IRS to investigate whether the LL has declared his illegal rents from this apartment?

5. I've recently brought the Dept of Buildings in to cite the landlord's illegal conversion of the attic to a pied-a-terre. Does my instituting another illegal conversion complaint re the basement give me any grace or favor with the court or forestall a LL from moving forward with, as I expect, giving notice and the whole legal juggernaut?

6. I haven't checked the C of O of the building. Is this something I need to look into?

All help greatly appreciated.
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Postby TenantNet » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:09 pm

If you're month-to-month with no lease and not rent regulated, then LL must give you 30 days written notice before any rent increase can take effect. For example, if they give you a written notice on July 2, then the increase can only start on September 1. (first rent payment date 30 days after the notice).

If the old rant was $1,000 and you thought you were paying for three months with a check for $3,000, and if the new rent the LL wants is $1,500, then you would be paid up for 2 months -- but see the paragraph above.

The tenant in the illegal unit might have cause to withhold rent. I don't think you do.

Other complaints might get him in trouble with DOB, but chances are will not help you.
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