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Roommate trouble in Queens condo

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Roommate trouble in Queens condo

Postby CityWifi » Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:57 pm

A friend is having trouble with a roommate in Queens. I'm posting on her behalf.

A condo owner has rented his entire unit to a single tenant (the PT). The PT agreed, via a written agreement with the condo board, not to have roommates or to sublet to anyone. The PT went against her agreement and brought in my friend as her roommate anyway (without the knowledge of my friend). The PT has done this with at least 2 prior roommates within the past 12 months.

After 3 1/2 months, when my friend was late on rent by two weeks, the PT gave her 30 days notice to vacate. It was not until 2 days before the end of the 30-day period, that my friend discovered her roommate the PT was renting contrary to her agreement with the board, and the board rules.

At that time, my friend decided to stop paying rent, because 1] she needed to save money to afford to leave; and 2] she wasn't sure whether her agreement was even legal. My friend has been staying out her security deposit; this was used up on August 31.

Regarding her agreement: 5 minutes after my friend moved in, and paid rent in cash, the PT presented her with an agreement to sign. It's pretty standard; the only odd things in it are 1] a rather steep late fee policy; and 2] a stipulation that if she leaves early, she must pay an additional month's rent as a penalty. We don't think this stipulation applies in her case, as it is a month-to-month agreement.

The PT started turning really nasty in mid-July. Simply put, she is doing everything she can to harass and provoke my friend and make it difficult for her to stay there. This is partly the reason my friend decided to live out her security deposit and not pay rent -- she just wants out, but cannot leave without cash for a new place. It was never her expectation to be asked to vacate after a one-time tardiness in rent.

My friend needs some peace of mind and advice as to 1] how to best protect herself; and 2] to know how much time she has to stay in the apartment before vacating without the threat of a forced eviction. Ultimately she needs to know her rights, and any risk involved in not paying rent.

As of today, the PT has not filed eviction in Queens Housing Court. The PT may never file in Housing Court, due to the threat of the board evicting her (and charging her a fine), and because the PT has been receiving cash for rent and likely not declaring that income.

Any advice is very much appreciated.
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Postby ronin » Mon Sep 19, 2011 11:12 am

I think you put too much faith in the Coop Board agreement. It actually would weaken your friend's position if raised in court, IMHO... I think the PT has a strong argument that she is allowed roommates via the law regardless of the agreement- and your friend, if raising that issue, would waive her right to argue the roommate law on her own behalf by disavowing its authority.

Just going by the written agreement between the roommates is the safest route, and from what you posted, it seems like living out the security is a good wind-down so she can move. But if you go beyond that it could get very nasty since the Board doesnt want a roommate and the PT is the only basis for her rights to the apartment.
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