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LL trying to increase rent in illegal apt

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LL trying to increase rent in illegal apt

Postby jengrowsinbklyn » Mon Aug 01, 2011 3:32 pm

My lease is up at the end of the month and my landlord informed me he wants to increase our rent by an outrageous amount. I attempted to negotiate and offered up to half of the increase he wanted and he refused to listen to me.

The situation is complicated by the fact that my apartment is illegal, which I didn't know when I signed my lease last year. LL took the first floor apartment and finished a portion of the basement to make it a duplex. One bedroom doesn't meet fire code (no means of egress in case of fire) and he advertises it as a legal BR. Also got no permits for construction, didn't inform DOB/DHCR about construction or addition of bedrooms. No valid certificate of occupancy on file. Also think he used the construction to illegally increase rent in rent stabilized apt, but this was back in 2002. (Apt is no longer stabilized, rent is over $2K.)

I know this isn't the best scenario but I really like my apartment and would like to stay 1 more year.

What are my options here, and how do I deal with this guy? What do I tell him, and what can happen to me/my credit rating if he tries to take me to court? I am willing to get a lawyer involved if it seems likely I will win, but would love to avoid. He doesn't know that I know the place is illegal. I don't want to start a big war; I just want to stay in my apartment without paying more for it than it is worth.

Thank you for any and all advice!
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Postby TenantNet » Mon Aug 01, 2011 7:26 pm

The short answer is that it seems the unit is illegal and not registered with HPD. How many units in the building? That wasn't clear. Actually please try to clarify what happened to what unit, and in what order. Chances are it would be difficult to maintain a proceeding in housing court if required to be registered with HPD.

But I think you also need a long-term strategy.
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Postby jengrowsinbklyn » Mon Aug 01, 2011 8:06 pm

There are 16 units in the building.

The story, as far as I understand it, is that my apt and the apt next to mine were both converted into duplexes about 10 years ago without any permits of any kind. When I got my rent history from DHCR at the top it said the apartment had 4 rooms in it, although it has 8 currently, with the addition.

In 2002, there was a 58% rent increase (the apt was RS at the time) which I am guessing was related to the construction of the duplex. Since it was unpermitted construction, I'm guessing that it wouldn't be classified as an acceptable reason to increase rent in a stabilized apt.

I imagine the LL knows he doesn't really have a leg to stand on if this went to court, I'm just not sure how to handle this situation without getting myself into any trouble. How specifically do I respond to him?
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