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NYC Roommate eviction, month to month, no lease with landlor

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NYC Roommate eviction, month to month, no lease with landlor

Postby aspnyc » Mon Oct 27, 2014 9:02 pm

Full title cut off: NYC Roommate eviction, month to month, no lease with landlord, but I'm longer tenured tenant, all utilities in my name. Just for an early summary.

I've lived in a legal two bedroom apartment in a house for over four years now. I took over the apartment over three years ago from the tenant who "found" me. (about October 2011 I believe). There has never been a lease with the landlord by anyone occupying the apartment. Upon the departure of the roommate that I originally moved in with, I took control of the apartment. I found someone else, and he stayed for about a year. Then my current roommate moved in. The utilities (gas/electric and internet) are in my name. Since taking control of the apartment from my original roommate, the landlord has always informed me of rent increases, maintenance, or any other miscellaneous matters. I have established a "landlord tenant" relationship with him. He even leaves the rent up to me to divvy up as I please with the roommates of my choosing. In summary, from what I can discern, I have a month to month verbal agreement with the landlord in an unregulated apartment (*edit*) in which I am the tenant and they are the subletters. I had the apartment first and controlled the apartment entirely in the gap between prior roommate and current. They took a room from an apartment I control. To reiterate, this is not rent stabilized or controlled. He has no problem knowing that I pay a much lower amount of rent than the other party (I also have a significantly smaller space - it's not an unreasonable agreement considering the space and that they are a couple).


From everything I can tell, I am within my rights to do so, as I am the primary tenant, and controlling party of the apartment, since I set the rent between the two parties (based upon the landlords set rent). We both pay rent directly to the landlord, but they don't know how much I pay. This is a convenience issue for him. I intend to inform him of my decision in advance as well, just to get his "support" on the issue, and I imagine that when I lay out the reasons why (in detail they are more compelling) that that will not be a problem.

If I give them a notice of termination, served properly and with proper documentation and notice, without any sort of intimidation, threatening, or menacing behavior, and they opt to overstay, will I have means by which to serve a holdover petition? They are not a hardship case (pay about $1200 a month with rent + utilities already, have plenty of "nice things", one is in school, the other "took time off work" to study for a grad school entrance exam, and I imagine any sort of bank records to try to make that claim would demonstrate that they are receiving money from outside source, probably family, probably hers).

I am no longer a licensed real estate agent, but I did get licensed at one point, and work as a rental agent for 7 years in Manhattan, so I am pretty familiar with "landlord tenant law" but am having difficulty finding specific information for this specific type of case on the internet. I still have many friends in the business, even a few lawyers who would do me a favor since I've given them referrals before, at least offering information and guidance, at most perhaps helping me if there were a court date. I assume they will not be able to afford a lawyer (I'd imagine if they could they'd have probably voluntarily left for their own place by now - they don't like living with me either). I imagine a lawyer can run in the hundreds of dollars an hour, though I've never asked any of my contacts (and would like to avoid that at the risk of appearing tacky).

Additionally, I believe I am able to, with 30 days written notice, properly delivered, raise the rent to anything I want, since I have always controlled the rent for entering occupants. If they do not agree, I could then begin a non payment petition. I'm not as sure about this aspect, but I believe it to be the case. Please correct if wrong.

To recap:

No written agreement between myself and landlord, them and landlord, them and me.

People in the apartment: Me, longest tenured tenant (4+ years). Them going on 1 1/2 years.

Payment: directly to landlord in both cases.

Utilities: all in my name

Rent distribution: determined by me

If I missed any pertinent information that would help determine an answer, please let me know. I'm fairly thorough so I'd be surprised if I skipped anything obvious, but it's possible, for sure.

edited to add one additional piece of information.
Last edited by aspnyc on Mon Oct 27, 2014 10:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: NYC Roommate eviction, month to month, no lease with lan

Postby TenantNet » Mon Oct 27, 2014 9:46 pm

Who is "him"? You mention "him" in the second sentence, but no reference. This is hard to follow. Possible to shorten it? I'm not sure what the question is.
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Re: NYC Roommate eviction, month to month, no lease with lan

Postby aspnyc » Mon Oct 27, 2014 9:57 pm

My apologies, that was an error. Mid semester, my brain is fried.

Ok, I understand that was long. I'm verbose. In essence, I want to know if I am considered the controlling party of the apartment due to my tenure, authority in delegating the amount of rent they pay, and being the sole holder of all utilities in the household. I would like to know if my situation permits me to serve notice of termination to the roommates (living together). As I chose them, and they reserve the right to also leave at any time, I assume that is a two way street. That I, in charge of the apartment, may also give them notice to leave, and would have a case against them should they choose to challenge it. Is this true?

Please let me know if I can clarify the situation further, or if I can provide additional information.
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Re: NYC Roommate eviction, month to month, no lease with lan

Postby aspnyc » Mon Oct 27, 2014 9:59 pm

I have truncated my message to remove extraneous details that ultimately would be unlikely to factor in to any sort of legal decision, and bolded areas which highlight what I'd like to know, and essential details. Thanks
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Re: NYC Roommate eviction, month to month, no lease with lan

Postby TenantNet » Mon Oct 27, 2014 10:08 pm

You are the "controlling" tenant as long as no one says you aren't. I've never heard the term "controlling," and it doesn't make a lot of sense. The better Q is, do you have a LL-tenant relationship with the LL, and do the other tenants?

That depends. If they pay rent to the LL, then they can claim some degree of tenancy (even though your position seems stronger).

They could be seen as undertenants where you are their LL. But again, they don't pay rent to you, so it gets muddy.

If you have a good relationship with the real LL, perhaps he might be willing to back you up, or give you a lease or written agreement, and in the process make them real undertenants.

Of course it only gets dicey if they refuse to leave.

What do all your friends in the RE business say?
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Re: NYC Roommate eviction, month to month, no lease with lan

Postby aspnyc » Mon Oct 27, 2014 10:21 pm

My actual RE agent friends don't really know much since they deal more with landlord/tenant and aren't so familiar with roommate situations and month to month. I went to the same licensing courses they did, so they didn't have much to add. I do have some friends in the law side of things, but I'd prefer to bug them as a last resort.

I'm assuming this is so convoluted and difficult to find an answer that they'd probably rather just leave than go to court, but who knows.

Would the landlord legally be able to give me a lease, as the sole and primary tenant, even while they are living here?
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Re: NYC Roommate eviction, month to month, no lease with lan

Postby TenantNet » Mon Oct 27, 2014 10:39 pm

Hard to say. They (and a court) might see the LL giving you a lease as a machination or charade. They could claim they have some tenancy rights and the LL can't undermine their rights in your favor. Maybe a more honest approach might be to give you a lease going forward with a letter stating that you have been the actual prime tenant going back X years.

Perhaps it would be good to bug your lawyer friends.
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Re: NYC Roommate eviction, month to month, no lease with lan

Postby ronin » Tue Oct 28, 2014 1:17 am

Personally I don't see how you claim to be the primary tenant if your roommates directly pay the landlord. It seems more like an illegal rooming house situation- but that is just my gut reaction.

And you also fail to mention any written or even verbal acknowledgement by your roommates that they accept you as the their subletter in any way.

I definitely agree with Tenant that a court could find it to be a charade.

IMHO
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Re: NYC Roommate eviction, month to month, no lease with lan

Postby TenantNet » Tue Oct 28, 2014 4:43 am

Ronin, that's the point I raised... they might have some tenancy rights. OTOH, if they have tenancy rights, then who is the LL?

Even if the OP is month-to-month, there mnight have been some sort of written agreement in the past. Might be worth seeking out previous "controlling" tenants to see if there ever was anything in writing.

He also said it was a separate apartment within a house, so it does not sound like a roomng house situation.
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Re: NYC Roommate eviction, month to month, no lease with lan

Postby ronin » Tue Oct 28, 2014 1:31 pm

Well, particular with it being month to month, I don't think OP has a leg to stand on. His rights to the apartment die each month, so he has no interest alive in time for a holdover case. He would have to prove his interest I would think, otherwise anyone off the street could file a holdover against a tenant.

But paying the landlord directly is especially strange. If they pay the LL in a month to month, why can't they ask OP to leave?

When I refer to illegal rooming, I mean the LL splitting up apartments into to rooms and renting the rooms separately, not that the building only has rooms. OP has no rights beyond 1 month and collects no money- so its really just the LL renting out rooms in full apartments.

OTH this situation could have developed organically. But the complete lack of any sort of verbal or written agreement is very odd.
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