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Old 02-03-2012, 08:42 PM
 
1 posts, read 6,355 times
Reputation: 16

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Hi,

I'm sure there are plenty of posts about illegal apartments in NYC but I'm so overwhelmed with my situation. I moved to New York a few months ago and rented a very tiny apartment (even tiny by Manhattan standards) because it was inexpensive, in a great area, and I didn't have to worry about finding a roommate over the internet. It's probably barely 80 square feet, no kitchen, no window (I have a skylight that doesn't open), no second exit, and I don't even have a real apartment number/address, I have my mail delivered to the office below. From what I've researched these are all indications of an illegal apartment. Some people have told me I'm entitled to sue for the money I've already paid for rent back because he legally should not be collecting rent on this place, and some have told me I can't and just have to accept my losses and move on. I also paid a brokers fee for this place and from what I know a broker should also not be listing an illegal apartment so should I be entitled to that back as well? I've seen information on the website for NYC housing NYC Housing Court and from what they've told me they have to go inspect it and declare it illegal. I don't want to report it yet because I don't have anywhere else to live at the moment. I just really have to get out of this place before my lease ends, the problem isn't necessarily the size but it gets extremely hot in here because there's no window or ventilation of any kind (like around 90 degrees some days...in the winter) and I'm terrified of a fire breaking out and I have no way of escaping. I guess my question is if I have any recourse to get any of my money back, even just my security deposit and if anyone has ever gone through something similar? I'm young in my twenties and all my family is across the country so I just am not quite sure how to handle this since I can't afford a lawyer. Also would I be able to represent myself in court if the law is on my side in this situation? Thanks so much if anyone has any advice.
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:03 PM
 
2,853 posts, read 6,251,910 times
Reputation: 1636
Did you rent this apartment without seeing it first or something?
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:59 PM
 
10,604 posts, read 20,734,839 times
Reputation: 8145
You can try getting info at the free walk-in clinic at this place KNOWING YOUR RIGHTS
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Old 02-04-2012, 12:00 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn,NY
10,324 posts, read 12,413,543 times
Reputation: 15395
No windows, fire exit, and cant use the ACTUAL apt for mail. You live in Guantanamo Bay? Get some cash together and get out. This is not a way for a person to live.
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Old 02-04-2012, 03:47 PM
 
221 posts, read 455,415 times
Reputation: 104
Constructive eviction?
That may be difficult to prove. You are going to need to go follow a small claims course and see what happens. Limit is only $5k, so you can try to claim so punitive damages as well.

Good luck.
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Old 02-04-2012, 09:22 PM
 
Location: Confines of the 101 Precinct
19,086 posts, read 32,666,756 times
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You can't get your rent back.
My favorite analogy for this situation is the thug that come into the precinct to report his stolen weed.

Unfortunately it's a lose-lose situation.
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:51 PM
 
Location: Astoria, NY
3,053 posts, read 3,427,485 times
Reputation: 2475
Quote:
Originally Posted by NH1018 View Post
Hi,

I'm sure there are plenty of posts about illegal apartments in NYC but I'm so overwhelmed with my situation. I moved to New York a few months ago and rented a very tiny apartment (even tiny by Manhattan standards) because it was inexpensive, in a great area, and I didn't have to worry about finding a roommate over the internet. It's probably barely 80 square feet, no kitchen, no window (I have a skylight that doesn't open), no second exit, and I don't even have a real apartment number/address, I have my mail delivered to the office below. From what I've researched these are all indications of an illegal apartment.
Why would you even rent a place like this to begin with? Sounds like you knew, and didn't care until you realized how much it sucked, and are now trying to recoup money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeventhFloor View Post
You can't get your rent back.
My favorite analogy for this situation is the thug that come into the precinct to report his stolen weed.
Ha. This.
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Old 02-05-2012, 05:29 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn New York
15,228 posts, read 23,749,578 times
Reputation: 19847
if it doesnt have a kitchen, and windows like you say, it isnt an apartment.

i dont know what it is, and I would move.

your not getting anything back for leaving.
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Old 02-05-2012, 06:44 PM
 
Location: Manhattan
20,129 posts, read 26,416,255 times
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I'm not sure how different the laws of NY and NJ are but here's an excerpt from an article by a law firm in New Jersey.

Quote:
By analyzing the express language of the statutory provision, the Court ruled that if a landlord violates a zoning ordinance by renting an illegal apartment, it must reimburse the tenant for relocation expenses if the tenant is evicted for illegal occupancy. The landlord is required to pay the displaced tenant an amount equal to six times the monthly rent, five days before the tenant vacates the premises. This amount is mandatory and is not based upon the actual expenses that a tenant incurs for relocating. For example, a tenant may only spend fifty dollars to vacate an illegal apartment and relocate, but the landlord is still required to pay the tenant an amount equal to six times the monthly rent charged to the tenant for the illegal apartment. Also, a landlord is not permitted to deduct past-due rent or other damages owed by the tenant from relocation benefits. Instead, the landlord must institute a separate action against the tenant for any damages owed by the tenant.
In interpreting the statute, the Court discussed the legislative purpose behind the provision which is to penalize a landlord that rents an illegal apartment which later results in the displacement of a tenant. The Court emphasized the large role that a landlord plays in illegal apartment renting. It is the landlord that advertises the apartment in anticipation of financial gain and in violation of local zoning laws. On the other hand, it is the tenant that is later forced to pick up his or her things and relocate. The goal of the statute is not only to deter landlords from renting illegal apartments, but to provide assistance to the tenant who wakes up one morning and is told to vacate due to an illegal occupancy.
So landlords beware! The potential loss associated with renting illegal apartments may be far more then the gain. When in doubt, always check the local zoning laws before renting an apartment space.
Thus to the OP, I would recommend NOT pulling up stakes until you speak with a tenant-landlord lawyer versen in New York law, perhaps a free one.
It seems unconsionable that you cannot get back some portion of what you paid for this ILLEGAL dump. (A tenant who freely rents a LEGAL dump is a different issue.)


Here's a recent NEW YORK result both in Supreme Court and Apellate Court appeal.
Quote:
The issue recently came before the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Term, Second Department, in the matter of Pickering v Chappe, 2010 NY Slip Op 20326. This case started out as a landlord tenant New York small claims court action, where a former tenant sued her landlord for the return of her $850 security deposit after she moved out. The homeowner’s landlord tenant lawyer counterclaimed for three months of unpaid rent. The New York landlord tenant small claims court judge awarded the tenant the return of her security deposit, and dismissed the landlord tenant lawyer’s counterclaim upon finding that the rent could not be recovered because the apartment was an illegal apartment in a one family house.
The landlord tenant lawyer, disappointed with the decision, appealed to the Appellate Term. After all papers were submitted, the Appellate Term held that there is no bar to the recovery of rent when a dwelling that has a certificate of occupancy as a one-family dwelling contains an illegal apartment. The court stated:
“It is only in the Multiple Dwelling Law that the Legislature has seen fit to impose a forfeiture of rent as a penalty. The Multiple Dwelling Law applies only to buildings occupied or intended to be occupied as the residence of three or more families living independently of each other (Multiple Dwelling Law 4 [7]).”
This rather clearly states that in a multiple-dwelling units that the landlord's forfeiture of rent is very much a part of the law. Of course if your landlord is a single family with a rental hole dug into the cellar, the law does not address the issue.

Last edited by Kefir King; 02-05-2012 at 06:57 PM..
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Old 03-06-2012, 03:44 PM
 
15 posts, read 26,432 times
Reputation: 32
Default Seek a lawyer ..I did

Kefir King is RIGHT. Do NOT leave until you speak with a lawyer.

I have a similar situation, where I know my apartment is an illegal apartment. I lived there for two years. However, I only found out last month right before my lease ended that the apartment was illegal and so I stopped paying rent.

I told my landlord he cannot collect anymore rent from me because the apartment is illegal and that I would not leave the apartment until a judge ordered me out.

If you reside in an illegal apartment in NYC, and it is a multiple dwelling (meaning 3 or more units are rented) you do NOT have to pay rent. And that is the LAW.

You can however be evicted via a holdover petition (although not overnight). And a holdover petition is not the same as an eviction for non-payment of rent. If your landlord sues you for "non-payment of rent" in an illegal apartment, you can have the petition dismissed with the defense of it being an illegal apartment, and the landlord will have to start over and file the proper paperwork, which is a holdover petition.

And with a holdover petition, you can then ask the judge for a stay (up to 6 months) in order to prepare to move. You can also request punitive damages (but this I would seek a lawyer about).

I spoke to a lawyer who took my case. She has informed me that at the very least she can postpone my stay at my apartment (while I live there rent free) so that I can save up money to move, and that she also intends to sue him for some of the money I paid in "illegal" rent for the past two years. We will see how that goes. The postponement without paying rent is a pretty good deal, because what I don't pay in rent I can save up for a new apartment. if she can get me extra money in "back rent" that will just be a great bonus.

My first court date is tomorrow and my lawyer will be postponing the case until April, while she gathers information about ym case, after which she will proceed with demands/negotiations for a stay and back rent.. I will come back on here and keep the thread updated for as long as my case proceeds, inorder to give new and old readers accurate information that they can use and or pass forward.

On another note, I also intend to seek my brokers free back from the broker who knowningly rented me this illegal apartment. There is definitely a precedent for it with citi-habitats (my broker) having had to pay back a tenant who they rented an illegal apartment to.

People claiming that you cannot get any money back are not properly informed. You CAN get some money back, however it really depends on the situation. If you KNEW the apartment was illegal when you moved in that is different than not knowing and the judge may view it differently.

I didn't know until last month, so I'm definitely not liable for any rents owed up to date.
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