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Richard
Richard, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 45981
Experience:  32 years of experience as lawyer in Texas. I'm also a Real Estate developer.
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I have a rent stabilized apt that was bought by a property

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I have a rent stabilized apt that was bought by a property management company that is gut renovating the apts below me and caused damage to 2 of my ceilings. I have been writing to them since the end of Feb. and they have told me that they would fix it, would take pictures of it, would assess it.. and never did it. I notified them that I was going to have it repaired if they did not do it and would deduct it from my rent. I finally had it fixed and told them that I would like to be reimbursed. Their response is that I had someone come in without their permission to fix it therefore it will not be reimbursed and if I deduct it from my rent, they will evict me. How long do I have to wait for repairs? They clearly want me out.. since I pay $890 and they are going to rent the new apts for 3K. Does this mean that I never have any recourse?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Richard replied 1 year ago.
Welcome! My goal is to do my very best to understand your situation and to provide a full and complete answer for you.

Good morning. You are not without recourse. The landlord doesn't get to make up the law to suit themselves. If the landlord will not voluntarily reimburse you, you should file a small claims case against the landlord...you can do this without a lawyer very easily. Once the suit is filed and a judgment awarded, you become a judgment creditor, and if the losing party doesn’t then pay the judgment, you can have the sheriff serve a summons on the losing party for a debtor examination. That forces the losing party to meet the judgment creditor in court and answer questions under oath about the losing party's assets. After that information is obtained, the judgment creditor has the power to garnish wages, attach bank accounts, have the sheriff seize other personal property, and/or place liens on any non-homestead property to satisfy the judgment.

With regard to the landlord trying to terminate your lease due to this, the NY attorney general (http://www.ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/pdfs/publications/Tenant_Rights_2011.pdf) provides that: "Landlords are prohibited from harassing or retaliating
against tenants who exercise their rights. For example, landlords may not seek to evict tenants solely because tenants (a)
make good faith complaints to a government agency regarding violations of any health or safety laws; (b) take good faith
actions to protect their rights under the lease; or (c) participate in tenant organizations. Tenants may collect damages
from landlords who violate this law, which applies to all rentals
except owner-occupied dwellings with fewer than four units.
Real Property Law § 223-b."


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Richard, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 45981
Experience: 32 years of experience as lawyer in Texas. I'm also a Real Estate developer.
Richard and 4 other Real Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi, thanks. I hadn't thought of small claims court... they are a very nasty bunch however and I am scared.. which is what they would like me to be. I can't really afford to have to move out of this apt. I also had water damage to my bathroom, which they did repair in a totally slipshod manner. I had this fixed when I had the other holes in the ceiling fixed. When I told them I wanted to be reimbursed, they immediately said they were looking at my file and saw that there was a leak that my plumber had caused.. but I didn't have a plumber.. I only had a plasterer. So I know they are capable of making anything up, to avoid paying for anything. The super in this building is a very nasty drunk. I do not want him in my apt unless I am here and dealing with him is very unpleasant. They also said that the fact that I have a problem with the super makes it difficult for the repairs.. however, I did not refuse the super, any appts.the problem is that none of the appts. they made with me were honored. All this is just to give you a sense of the type of landlord this is... I am worried now that I have called attention to myself and taking them to small claims court will only make them watch me closer or manufacture stuff to get me out. Is there a point where I just accept that they will do nothing for me beyond basic heat and water and enjoy the fact that I have rent I can afford, or do I stand up because it will get worse if I don't? I am happy that I wrote them a letter detailing all the problems in my apt.when they first took over.. that will inevitably cause problems to the brand new apt beneath me.. .. so that they can't use those issues to get me out or make me pay damages, if something happens... which it will.. my kitchen floor is in such bad shape that if anything spills on it, it runs right through the cracks., etc. etc. I guess after I wrote all this, I see so clearly that I am feeling just as they would like me to feel... not happy here and ready to move out. Sigh. Thanks for your help.

Expert:  Richard replied 1 year ago.
Thanks so much for your reply. If this were me, I would file the suit. Then, if they ever try to terminate you, you have absolute evidence of their retaliation. I do understand the problem you face...these landlords get away with being bullies due to their ability to scare their tenants. But, the landlord tenant laws are designed to protect tenants against this kind of behavior and in court, the judge levels the playing field for the tenant. Whichever way you go, get yourself a notebook and keep contemporaneous notes of every issue, correspondence, etc. that takes place, including dates, times, and people involved, so that if they do try to ever terminate your tenancy, you have a great file for contesting based on retaliation and to file suit against the landlord for all past damages, including a reimbursement of some of your prior rent due to be deprived of your full benefit of your rental bargain due to their failure to adequately and timely repair your property.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks again. You are right. There is value in filing the claim, even if I don't win.. as a safeguard against being pushed out later. I feel they are going to look for anything they can. Also, thank you for the suggestion of the notebook. The contractor who is working on the apt downstairs told me the other day that he was never told to come and fix the holes, even though they were emailing me that it was his fault because he hadn't showed up. I should get his full name and contact info if I can, in case I need it. Not that he would want to jeopardize future work for them.. but He said that they emailed authorized work to him... I could always ask them to produce the email showing that.. even if I couldn't get him as a witness. I guess I could frame some of the stuff the super is doing as harassment.. I feel scared still.. but more proactive.


 

Expert:  Richard replied 1 year ago.
You're very welcome. If you don't mind, I would appreciate you letting me know how this unfolds for you. Thank you!
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Sure. NYC used to be pro tenant.. but not so sure anymore. Can I send you an update on this site?

Expert:  Richard replied 1 year ago.
Yes....you can send it to me here. I look forward to hearing from you. I will keep you in my prayers in the meantime. Have a great weekend...it's been my pleasure to be able to help you today! :)

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