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Significance of improperly registered apartment?

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Significance of improperly registered apartment?

Postby f5 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 4:32 pm

I live in Westchester and got a printout of my apartment's registration history from the DHCR. Over a seven year period, my name and address aren't even mentioned. Instead, there are different random names/random addresses registered for each year. DHCR confirmed that was the correct printout for my address, that's what the landlord put there.

What is the significance of this? Does it make the apartment illegal, my past leases invalid? Why would the landlord do that?, etc.? This coincides with other legal matters at this apartment and wanted to know if this to my advantage, if at all. Thanks.
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Re: Significance of improperly registered apartment?

Postby TenantNet » Tue Jun 13, 2017 4:47 pm

FYI, there are differences between rent stabilization for NYC and for Westchester County. However I do not know if any of those differences are an issue here.

All rent stab units must be registered annually with DHCR. What is important is the name of the tenant, the term of the lease (start and ending dates) and the legal rent.

What DHCR reports in a rent history is just reflective of what landlord have told them, and do not necessarily represent the legal rents.

From what you state, if appears the LL has made false statements on the registration, and I can see a number of problems as to how he could manipulate things.

Probably the best thing to do is to put in a complaint to DHCR, either a lease complaint, overcharge ocmplaint or a request for administrative determination. There are no processes that directly deal with bad registrations. But as - in our view - a bad registration makes any rent increases illegal, then one of those complaints would be appropriate. Did DHCR advise you on which way to put in a complaint?

And FYI, it doesn't make your apt illegal or leases invalid.
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Re: Significance of improperly registered apartment?

Postby f5 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:08 pm

Hi, thanks a lot.

Yes, it was suggested by DHCR I could put in a claim of overcharges, but when I looked into it, it appears that this is not a good option as a claim of overcharges my take years and ultimately may be to the landlord's advantage. Online info claims DHCR favors landlords(?) I don't know how correct this info is but there lies my apprehension.

When you say an improperly registered apartment makes increases "illegal". I didn't want to sidetrack the original post, but...I actually had an increase a couple of years ago that I felt was under questionable circumstances, (not mailed or presented by management but by a third party), and continued to pay the old amount instead of the increase. I'm now being asked to pay a large amount of money in a short period of time, half of which are late fees incurred by the landlord.

Maybe I should reconsider and file a complaint anyway?
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Re: Significance of improperly registered apartment?

Postby TenantNet » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:22 pm

Yes, DHCR is generally pro-landlord. But as far as I know, you can't necessarily take an overcharge complaint to court. You could - and you should get Westchester legal advice on this - withhold rent and when taken to court, claim overcharge as a defense.

I do not know if there is a tenant blacklist for Westchester, but be aware that might be a possibility.

And yes, DHCR can take a long time.

The idea is that the registration was fraudulent, so there can be no increase without a proper registration.

Sounds like you are already halfway to court. I would certainly fight any late fees. Have you consulted with a tenant attorney, either in private practice or legal aid?
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Re: Significance of improperly registered apartment?

Postby f5 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:32 pm

I consulted a tenant's union and they did recommend I file the overcharge last year. My reluctance at the time was due to the fact that I've already filed many complaints regarding an unruly employee at the complex and was trying to keep a low profile.

I also contacted Westchester's Hudson Valley Legal Services regarding management presenting the lease four months earlier this year. They're not the same as NYC's Legal Aid, as they filter out requests and only take on cases if they want to but are not required to even respond if not interested/which happened with me.

I think I will do the DHCR complaint. Your posts are very helpful, thanks.
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Re: Significance of improperly registered apartment?

Postby TenantNet » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:37 pm

There are times one may want a low profile, but that has nothing to do with your rights on an overcharge complaint. Keep them separate.

I would keep trying HVLS. Is there a Legal Aid up there as well? (LS and LA are different)
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Re: Significance of improperly registered apartment?

Postby f5 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:45 pm

I will keep them separate, thanks.

I could try HVLS again, but I think I may try the tenant's union again first.
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