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LL looking to early-terminate one year lease

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LL looking to early-terminate one year lease

Postby AstoriaBound » Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:48 am

Like everyone else, long story short:

I live in a basement apt within a private home (LLs live in 3rd floor apt). My apt is situated right across from the other part of the basement where the washing is done, storage of things, etc, where the whole household (consisting of 3 apt units total including mine) have access.

In my year lease (expires in Jan 2012) it states, 1st clause: The Apartment must be used only as a private apartment to live in & for no other reason. Only a party signing this lease & the spouse & children of that party may use the apartment.

Cousin & my niece are here visiting for about a week & 1/2, LLs bumped into cousin in the laundry room (technically the *only* people allowed to use that area are the household tenants) washing my linens while I was out running errands.

They get into a confrontation as to who she was, what was she doing in their home, etc etc. She explained everything to them, but they weren't trying to hear it. They then proceed to accuse her of actually permanently living in my apt, as she vehemently denies & repeats that she's just visiting.

Later that evening, I head up to their apt to discuss the state of events. They decided that I had breached the security of the home (& although I have *never* given them any trouble in the almost 2 years I have lived there), that I have someone else besides myself living in my apt & they're looking to terminate my lease early & have me move out within a month. Apparently, I'm not allowed to have visitors (although not stated in the lease), but they kept quoting the 1st clause, saying the ONLY people allowed in the apt is me & a spouse & children, if I had them (which I don't).

I let them know that there was no way financially I could afford to move out, since my lease doesn't end until January. I apologized for not notifying them of my guest (although I don't feel obligated to do so, I was just looking to ease the situation) & clarify once again that my cousin & my niece are only here for a week & 1/2 visiting.

They say they're going to sleep on the idea of having me move out early or not & they made me "kick out" my cousin & niece (I just had them stay over at my b/f's apt instead in order to avoid all conflict) so they could feel safer in their home.

What are my rights? What confuses me the most is the fact that my apt is within a private home that has been converted into 3 apartments & I'm located right across the common area for the rest of the tenants. To get to my apartment's front door, you have to enter a side door that all tenants have access to.

Thank you.
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Postby TenantNet » Wed Aug 03, 2011 5:40 am

Is your apartment an apartment or a room? Does it have it's own bathroom, kitchen, etc? Are there two means of egress? Is it registered with HPD? (don't ask the LL on that). While you may have to go through an internal hall to get to your apartment, once in, is it completely confined for your exclusive use, or do you share parts of it with others?

I doubt they can get you out that easily, especially with a lease.

A tenant would have different rights than a person renting a room, which is why I ask those questions. A tenant can have guests no matter what the LL says. A rooming house would have certain rules.

Chances are the LL is just hot under the collar. See if it lasts long.
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Postby AstoriaBound » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:46 am

It's a full one bedroom apt with its own kitchen & bathroom. The only entrance/exit is the front door that goes out to the little hall & then 2nd door to the outside.

They actually just told me they've decided that they want me out by the end of Oct because they no longer feel comfortable with me living there & will be coming by my place tomorrow to have us sign an agreement saying I'll be out by the end of Oct.
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Postby TenantNet » Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:07 am

Don't be stupid and sign anything like that. Your lease already ends in January 2012, so 5 months left (6 if you meant the end of January). Your lease already says when you are supposed to be out (unless renewed). They want you to fly through hoops. What are they willing to give you for agreeing to end your tenancy early? Moving costs?

This sounds like an illegal apartment (let me guess, in Queens), likely not registered with HPD and with no second means of egress it could be dangerous. Basement units are illegal for a number of reasons, but can also include issues of ventilation with nearby furnace or boiler. Maybe that's why they feel uncomfortable.

Being illegal, it would be difficult for the LL to maintain a court proceeding against you.

If they try to lock you out, see illegal evictions in the Forum Reference section.

They are knowingly endangering your safety. Do not give them the benefit of the doubt on anything. I would play hardball. But ... I'd get a legal opinion just to cover your ass.
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Postby queensborough » Wed Aug 03, 2011 6:16 pm

Since you have a lease, you don't have to leave until the end of your lease. I agree that this is probably an illegal basement apartment, so tell them your staying until your lease is up. This will give you time to find a new place. Check with HPD on line to see if it is registered.
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Postby AstoriaBound » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:34 pm

This is what I found on HPD:


The selected address: XXXX STREET, Queens
HPD# XXXX
  Active
Block
00XX
Lot
00XX
CD
1
CensusTract
XX00
Stories
2
A Units
2
B Units
0
Ownership
PVT
MDR#
0

So does this say there are only 2 apartment units (upstairs) & NO apt units in the basement?
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Postby queensborough » Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:44 am

That's what it looks like. Two legal apartments. The basement apartment appears to be illegal, as most are.
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Postby Emeraldstar » Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:08 am

Hi All
As is prudent, always carry with you, your lease, a utility bill, if there is one, something addressed to you, point is to be able to confirm to police that you reside in the apt should the LL do an illegal lock out. The police then can demand you be given access. Make sure you read the forum's info on lockout.
The LL now has cause to be paranoid due to shooting themselves in the foot by saying you should leave as soon as they discovered your guests. Of course you want to know why and search you did. LL's of basements know their scaming (that's why your guests were such an issue) & they can get pretty stupid & nasty over time when a threat is perceived . Placate them if asked by saying your looking for a new place & you'll let them know as soon as your ready to move. And find one. If your credit is good & based upon the rents areas like Astoria charges basements & all, you may find a RS apt to your likeing in a bld. Guests & roommates are allowed. Though a LL of a bld can be a pest, they're nothing like a snoopy, greedy, private pig. Good luck :wink:
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Postby AstoriaBound » Fri Aug 05, 2011 1:02 am

Thank you all for the great & useful input.

Emeraldstar, those are great points! Thank you. I just scanned & emailed myself a copy of my lease, as well as can get bank statement & cable statement access online on my phone showing my billing address.

So the landlords came into my apartment today & had this to say:

You have 2 options (they, however, HIGHLY "suggested" I take the 1st of the 2):

A) move out Oct 15th & call it a day (because I violated the trust we had by not informing them of my guests & it's just unforgivable)

or

B) leave until my lease ends (Jan. 31st 2012), HOWEVER they will hold me to the strictest sense of the word when it comes to the clauses in the lease. That's to say, due to their interpretation on the 1st clause about who can RESIDE in said apt, I am not allowed to have ANY sorts of guests over (with the exception of my boyfriend, whom they met when I 1st moved in). Period.

I have 3 days to make my decision & notify them. I'm choosing to ride out my lease, since I'm currently stuck in a financial pickle & can't afford to move probably until my lease ends.

They also stated that they think I was looking to get away with the fact that I had guests staying with me. It's like they're living in a bizarro world.

Since when does someone who pays rent on time not have the right to have guests over in their OWN apartment?

I'll be mailing them my decision via certified mail; moving forward I'll also be mailing my check-written rent via certified mail. I want to make sure all my bases are covered.

I'm thinking of have a LL-tenant atty check out my lease & send them a letter stating that they have no right to limit whom I bring in & out of my apt (since I can't find any information regarding this particular use of one's apartment). Thoughts?

Also, I'm trying to determine whether or not this is a basement or a cellar.

Thanks!
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Postby Emeraldstar » Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:47 pm

Hi All
Yep, it's called a basement apt though it may seem like a cellar :lol:
Just my take on the lawyer ........why bother? You now know that it's an illegal rental & it's clear why the LL is forbidding guests. Others on this forum may be able to clarify the legality of your lease? I'm not sure it's valid? But reality is your living under their roof & they are calling the shots so they believe.
I think your efforts would be best served by remaining focused on saving & searching for an apt. I would just verbalize the choice & pick until the end of the lease to play their game. Think of it this way, how can an LL want someone to make a choice when a lease has already been agreed upon? And yes, send the rent RRR. What if you were able to move before the so called lease ends. I'm surmising the LL would not bother with court due to the apts status but your dealing with a snake so why give them ammo to use for intimidation.
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:02 pm

Basements and cellars are not the same thing. See http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/owners ... ions.shtml
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Postby Emeraldstar » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:16 pm

Hi All
Thanks TN for the knowledge. :wink: I thought it was a terminology thing.
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Postby concord » Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:04 am

LAST MONTH’S RENTAL

While I don’t know the terms of your lease I would make an additional suggestion based upon the knowledge that you have a LL who is clearly comfortable in acting inappropriately.

You should deduct your deposit from your last month’s rental rather than to pay the rent up to the last day of occupancy and then to seek your money back.

That is, if you have given a $500 deposit and your lease expires on January 31 then you should pay rent up to December 31 and live in the apt up to January 31 without making a rental payment. Instead just burn off your $500 deposit as a January payment for rent.

GUESTS - CONDUCT

Informatively, your LL can’t hand-pick your guests. You can have your boyfriend over but you can’t have your mother over? Really?

Just keep things calm and bring over guests as you please and show respect to your neighbors and LL by not making loud noise or releasing smoke (from smoking) into common areas while with your guests. That is enough of an effort on your end.

If your guests are occupying common areas that are shared by other tenants and obstructing or bothering those other tenants then the LL can righteously complain about you. So just do the right thing.
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Postby AstoriaBound » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:22 pm

So the adventures continues:

Quick backstory: they just got back from their yearly summer vacation home trip & I'm currently out of town 'til the end of this month

Received a call from LLs last week letting me know that they had received a notice from the DOB stating they had come by twice (while LLs were away at their summer home) & are requesting they set-up an appt for inspection of a possible illegal apt they got wind of via 311 back in March.

I was able to confirm this by checking out the DOB site & seeing the complaint myself. However, the status on said complaint now shows up as "CLOSED".

LL said he was quite surprised because for the past 20 yrs. he had never had any issues renting the illegal basement apt.
He then asked: "you are aware that it is an illegal apt, right?" I was responded: "Uh NO, I was never aware of this & I'm completely in shock right now."

LL told me that after doing research they found a list of possible consequences, but that he was hoping for the best.
Regardless, they wanted to keep my in the loop, as well as find out when I'd be back in town since they were going out of town again for another 2 weeks & wouldn't make an appt with the DOB until they got back around the 2nd-to-last week of this month.
I kept everything cordial with him & thanked him for the info & didn't want to say anything else until I figured out my complete rights.

So here I am, quite tired with all the unnecessary headaches this apt has given me in the past 6 months. I just want to cut my losses & get out of there ASAP, once I get back in town.

My common sense tells me that since my apt is illegal, my lease is then null & void. I'd like to get out of there by the end of Oct (if the DOB doesn't make me get out beforehand).

Am I allowed to "break" the lease that doesn't end until Jan 2012?
Am I obligated to give them a 30-day notice?
How do I handle my deposit situation?
Am I entitled to moving expenses because of all this mess?

ANY feedback is greatly appreciated.
Thank you!
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Postby Cranky Tenant » Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:40 pm

Did you pay any kind of broker's fee for the apartment?

If the DOB website says the complaint is "CLOSED" it's possible the landlord is lying about DOB thinking you'll feel more pressured to leave. Any idea whether he's contacted any of the other tenants to warn them about DOB?
I'm a cranky tenant NOT a cranky lawyer.
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