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Unread 09-26-2011, 06:43 PM
 
2 posts, read 36,946 times
Reputation: 18
Exclamation Please help- I live in an illegal apartment, what are my rights?

First of all, I want to thank anyone who reads this in advance, I know its long but I want to fully explain the situation!
I live in Town of Valley Stream. I have been renting an illegal basement apartment for a year and a half now. Its a legal 2 family, but the basement where I live is illegal. Now, my landlord had a dispute with an old tenant, the old tenant reported the landlord for the illegal apartment.
So today my landlord tells me I have to move out within a week. She is having electrican and plumber coming in a couple days to turn off water in my kitchen and take stove out.
Can they do this to me??? Its not realistic to find a new apartment and move in within a week. Also, my landlord is a crackhead they'res no chance of getting my security deposit back.
Even though its an illegal apartment, do I have any rights? Can they really have someone come and turn off the water and take out the stove while I am still living here? They don't have to serve me any kind of written notice, or give me X amount of days to move, etc?
My landlord claims I have no choice, that if I dont listen to her and move immediately, that the town can just come and force me to leave with no notice since its an illegal apartment, is that true?
I would like to be able to stay another month or 2, and save the money that I would have paid her for rent, to put towards a security deposit on a new apartment, it seems only fair to me, since she doesnt have my security deposit to return. And do I have any recourse to recover all the rent Ive paid her, since its illegal apartment? Someone told me she has to give all my rent back to me, but I'm not sure how true that is.
Any advice anyone has is much appreciated. Its very frustrating to be a good tenant, pay my rent on time each month, and get screwed because my landlord rented out an illegal apartment. Obviously, if I had known all this, I never would have moved in in the first place.
Thank you for your help!
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Unread 09-26-2011, 06:46 PM
 
Location: Nesconset, NY
1,215 posts, read 1,044,856 times
Reputation: 900
A landlord's rights and responsibilities and a tenant's rights and responsibilities are not at all related to whether the apartment is "legal" or not.
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Unread 09-26-2011, 07:53 PM
 
99 posts, read 85,071 times
Reputation: 117
I'm not an expert, but I went through a situation that involved utilities being shut off while renting an illegal apartment at one point.

For the most part, whether it is illegal or not, essential utilities can't be shut off on someone that is renting. Even if the utilities have not been paid for months or the landlord is "kicking you out."

If it were me, I'd first sit down with the landlord and tell them you need the extra time to find a new place. If that doesn't work, I would then threaten them with calling the police to ensure your utilities stay on. Most plumbers/electricians will NOT shut down service if it is known someone is living there. Or, at the very least, they will give you a few days to work with so you can make the necessary calls (the town, utility company, etc...).

As a final note, I've found that no matter how nice a place is or how cheap it is, nothing beats renting from a sane and reasonable landlord. In the past, I would view 50+ properties before finding a landlord that I could tell was not a nutjob. Once I found that person, I was handing them a check so I could rent their place.
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Unread 09-27-2011, 04:44 AM
 
Location: Bridgeville,Pa
4,078 posts, read 6,351,336 times
Reputation: 1848
As a landlord, I think you need 30 days notice. Do you have a lease? Probably not if it is an illegal appt.

She cannot give you a weeks notice. If her apt was reported and the town came, they obviously told her to take out the stove, and sink.

You could also go to landlord tenant court and file a claim although i dont know what case you would have
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Unread 09-27-2011, 07:30 AM
 
376 posts, read 556,369 times
Reputation: 463
Even if the apartment is illegal, the landlord has to follow proper procedures in order to evict you. She has to give you more than a week's notice. She can not lock you out or cut your utilities. If she does, you can sue her for triple damages and she may also be subject to criminal charges if she locks you out and throws your stuff to the curb.

Contact legal aid if she tries to cut the utilities or lock you out.

Here is teh NYS tenant's rights booklet which may be useful
http://www.oag.state.ny.us/bureaus/real_estate_finance/pdfs/tenants_rights_guide.pdf (broken link)
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Unread 09-27-2011, 07:33 AM
 
Location: Former LI'er Now a Rehoboth Beach Bunny
2,186 posts, read 1,888,644 times
Reputation: 1563
I think the real problem here is the "legal" vs. "moral" debate. I know that while it may not seem "fair" the landlord is correct. Similar but not the same as, unknowingly you have been given a counterfeit bill, you use it to pay for goods, it gets taken away from you. You end up with no bill i.e. no money and no goods. Through no fault of your own you are now the loser.

The main difference here is that you KNEW ( at some point) that you were renting an illegal apartment and the homeowner is probably going to face stiff fines from the TOH for that unless you are gone, so I am afraid that is the end of the story. Now from a moral standpoint the landlord should be returning your rent.

All is not without hope, The Inn has a program for homeless in Nassau County, The INN, perhaps they can be of help.

Last edited by nuts2uiam; 09-27-2011 at 07:38 AM.. Reason: edit address
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Unread 09-27-2011, 07:51 AM
 
498 posts, read 475,514 times
Reputation: 389
actually as a renter, you have more options legally than a homeowner. Strictly speaking, you could stop paying rent and still not get forced out of your apartment for upwards of a year. Not that you want it to get to that, since I'm sure it would be hell, but a week's time is totally absurd.
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Unread 09-27-2011, 07:57 AM
 
3,939 posts, read 3,531,016 times
Reputation: 1363
Honestly I'd move any important things out NOW, get ready to move and tell them to screw themselves. They can't legally turn off your utilities. If they do, call the police ASAP. Same goes for a lockout. This is an illegal eviction.

I'd just get ready to move ASAP.

I did a lot of research with LL/T and the law a little while back, if you have any questions let me know.
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Unread 09-27-2011, 10:50 AM
 
Location: Nassau, Long Island, NY
15,084 posts, read 13,992,498 times
Reputation: 5989
Quote:
Originally Posted by NY Andy View Post
First of all, I want to thank anyone who reads this in advance, I know its long but I want to fully explain the situation!
I live in Town of Valley Stream. I have been renting an illegal basement apartment for a year and a half now. Its a legal 2 family, but the basement where I live is illegal. Now, my landlord had a dispute with an old tenant, the old tenant reported the landlord for the illegal apartment.
So today my landlord tells me I have to move out within a week. She is having electrican and plumber coming in a couple days to turn off water in my kitchen and take stove out.
Can they do this to me??? Its not realistic to find a new apartment and move in within a week. Also, my landlord is a crackhead they'res no chance of getting my security deposit back.
Even though its an illegal apartment, do I have any rights? Can they really have someone come and turn off the water and take out the stove while I am still living here? They don't have to serve me any kind of written notice, or give me X amount of days to move, etc?
My landlord claims I have no choice, that if I dont listen to her and move immediately, that the town can just come and force me to leave with no notice since its an illegal apartment, is that true?
I would like to be able to stay another month or 2, and save the money that I would have paid her for rent, to put towards a security deposit on a new apartment, it seems only fair to me, since she doesnt have my security deposit to return. And do I have any recourse to recover all the rent Ive paid her, since its illegal apartment? Someone told me she has to give all my rent back to me, but I'm not sure how true that is.
Any advice anyone has is much appreciated. Its very frustrating to be a good tenant, pay my rent on time each month, and get screwed because my landlord rented out an illegal apartment. Obviously, if I had known all this, I never would have moved in in the first place.
Thank you for your help!
Where is this house actually located?

Is it within the VILLAGE of Valley Stream?

If so, call the Village and tell them your story and see what the reality is.

If it is not within the Village of Valley Stream, it falls under Town of Hempstead Housing Department. They can advise you.

Has the landlord SHOWN you any paperwork about the illegal apartment being reported? (There's always the off chance the landlord just wants to get rid of you and is making an excuse.)

AFAIK, I think the authorities CAN close up illegal apartments immediately and without notice under the premise that illegal apartments are "dangerous" as they have not been inspected, have no permits, and are thus considered automatically unfit for human habitation because of such and this overrides typical "tenant rights" because if the apartment is considered unfit for habitation (illegal), nobody has any right to occupy it as a tenant. At least I've heard stories of that happening. I had a coworker it happened to (NOT in Valley Stream) and she and her husband had to move in with her mother until they could find another apartment. This was in Wantagh (under Town of Hempstead). This was also several years ago so not the most up to date info out there.

Next time DO NOT move into a BASEMENT! Basements are almost always illegal to have apartments in.

Your landlord really doesn't owe you "time" to live rent free and save money.

As for getting all your rent back because the apartment is illegal: that is up to a judge. Sometimes they play that way and sometimes they don't. If your landlord "doesn't have" the security deposit, you will have to sue them in small claims court. If you paid a real estate broker to find this apartment, it is illegal for them to represent illegal apartments and they owe you back your entire fee or owe you a "free" finding of another apartment. Good luck!
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Unread 09-28-2011, 04:47 PM
 
2 posts, read 36,946 times
Reputation: 18
hi, and thank you all for your help! I ended up contacting a landlord/tenant lawyer today, who was actually extremely helpful, I was prepared to go see him and pay him for his advice, and instead he just answered all my questions on the phone for free.
He said to keep paying rent, as long as I am paying rent then they must give me at least 30 days notice, for ex. if they served me with 30 day notice today, I'd have until Oct 31 to move out, if they wait until Oct 1 to serve me, then I have until Nov30 to move out. But if I am not paying rent, then they can serve me a 3 day notice, and if I do not pay the rent or move within 3 days then they can start the eviction process.
He said that they cannot shut off electricity or water while I am still living here, if they do then call the police.
He also said that she is bluffing that the town will come and make me move, they would have served me notice first. The only situation they can come and make me move immediately is if its condemned, and if that the was the case then she would have to move immediately as well, since the basement is part of her house too.
So I plan on letting the landllord know that I will be moving on Nov 1, and I'm not going to pay her the rent, but put it into a seperate bank account. So that when she cannot pay me back my security deposit (which I know she doesnt have) ,then I will keep that months rent. But this way I am covered in the off chance she does try and sue me.
Of course it will be miserable for the next month living here, but hey I got myself into this situation.
Hopefully my experience helps someone else out there! If you can help it, Stay away from crackhead landlords renting out illegal basement apartments!

ps, I live in Village of VS, btw.
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