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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 36205
Experience:  16 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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I have a landlord that sent invoices for 5 months stating $0

Customer Question

I have a landlord that sent invoices for 5 months stating $0 balance. I have at least the most recent invoice dated 12/27/16. Yesterday they contacted me stating we owed $18,500. I explained that we didn't notice this for 3 months, and when we did we assumed they would eventually correct it. After that phone call, I made payment for half of the balance. In that time though, both my roommate and I received several emails and texts threatening legal action if we don't pay by today. They even called both of our offices today, despite the fact that we were never provided official documentation that we were late. Then they said we had to pay that same night. At no point over the last 5 months did we receive late notice. The only communication was our statements saying $0 balance. If I allow my payment to go through, I will overdraft with my bank. My issue is not necessarily with the amount owed for previous months, but rather the harassment and the legality of their method of bullying us to pay almost $20k in less than 24 hours due to their invoicing mistake. I am trying to learn my options in terms of payment timelines that are in line with tenant laws in New York City.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 4 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney and will try my best to help with your situation. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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It is unfortunate that their billing errors have caused this situation to arise. But they can't do anything unless they start out with a written 3 day notice to pay or vacate. Then if you aren't able to pay everything due within those 3 days, then they have to file a formal eviction action in the local housing court to get a judgment and writ that the marshal or constable will execute to force you to vacate.

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However, they don't have to offer you any payment plan if they choose not to do so. You can defend in court and claim it is unfair to have to pay the full amount all at once, but the judge will ask you if you knew what your rent was, and if you knew that you didn't pay it. When you answer "yes" your defense is kind of sunk..

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So even if they were sending an invoice showing you owed nothing, you and roommate had to know it was a clerical mistake because no one gets free rent...

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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience,even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...

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thanks

Barrister