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Old 10-17-2010, 11:02 AM
4 posts, read 7,995 times
Reputation: 11


Where to begin...
(This is a long-winded post, but I wanted to make sure I included as much info as possible. There are two questions in here, so please keep reading. Thanks in advance to any/everyone who can help out!!)

So, my boyfriend and I moved into our Brooklyn apartment in January 2010 under a sublease that was signed by the two of us, plus the tenants from whom we were subletting, plus the landlord/management company. The sublease expired at the end of July 2010.

In mid-August, I received an email from the management company:

"Your "sublease" of the current unit is currently up. We need for you to sign a new lease under your names. We will send you the lease and have it starting October 1, 2010."

There's more, but the point is that we were sent the new lease in late August. We were instructed to sign both copies and then return both copies to the landlord (LL) so he could sign them, after which one copy would be returned to us, and the other would be kept by the LL (standard procedure). Since the lease start date was October 1, we signed and returned both copies in late September. Shortly thereafter, we sent in our rent check for the month of October. The landlord cashed the check right away, but he still hasn't sent us a copy of the lease with his signature....

Question 1
What does this do to our legal rights, as tenants?? Can the landlord legally threaten to evict us, since (despite our best efforts) we are currently unable to provide a copy of the lease with his signature on it??

The second issue with this LL (and the reason I asked Question #1) is that we are currently paying the electricity costs for both our apartment as well as one of the other two apartments on our floor. While we are still unsure as to which apartment we're paying for (we haven't wanted to bother our neighbors with this just yet), this fact was confirmed by both Con-Edison (both over the phone and after an in-person appointment), as well as the LL himself!! In fact, the LL informed me that he has indeed known about the wiring mistake since the building was first constructed (in 2006) -- which means that anyone who has ever lived in our particular apartment has been paying for two apartments worth of electricity.

After numerous phone conversations regarding this matter, I received the following email from the LL:

"As per our discussion earlier today: I have spoken to the Electrical Contractor who initially serviced the building during construction and advised him that neither he nor Con Edison ever made an honest effort to correct the Missing Meter on the Xth Floor of XXX Meeker Ave. He will start the process with them tomorrow. For the time being, I propose that we draw up an Agreement for "XXX MEEKER LLC" to pick up the monthly electric bills. I can have this drawn up by tomm and emailed to you. Please advise."

This email was sent over two weeks ago. Since then, I have tried to get in touch with him numerous times, and by numerous methods -- email (no response), pager (no response), telephone (no response--and the voicemail is now full, so we can't even leave a message) -- because no progress seems to have been made whatsoever, and since we also want to draw up a second contract regarding the reimbursement of unnecessary electricity charges we've already paid.

Question 2
If we proceed with legal action in order to get reimbursed for the money we are owed, could the landlord threaten us with eviction (since he still hasn't returned a signed copy of the lease)?? Any advice as to how to get this landlord to pay up and fix the problem without any threat to our current living situation?? Please help!!!!!

Thank you!
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Old 10-17-2010, 03:43 PM
979 posts, read 4,392,266 times
Reputation: 519
I'm going to presume given your address (Meeker Av.) that you are likely paying under 2K a month and therefore stabilized. This is somewhat important. Why did the management offer you the lease? Normally the prime tenant is the one offered a new lease. This leads to believe that you've been paying directly to the LL all this time which is a good thing and the fact that he has cashed your rent check in essence means he approves your tenancy even without the lease in hand. Under these circumstances eviction under a holdover proceeding is not possible. I would send a certified letter to the management requesting a copy of the lease back. Only under certain limited circumstances (usually on TV shows) are emails and to a lesser extent phone calls considered legal proof of anything.
Regarding the electric: Take the email sent to you regarding the electrical contractor to Con Ed. They will take up the issue themselves with the LL if there is a problem like this and also give you evidence of what is owed you.
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Old 10-17-2010, 05:58 PM
Location: The Ranch in Olam Haba
23,709 posts, read 30,084,080 times
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If you pay your rent and the LL is cashing them then the lease is in effect. Thus no grounds for eviction. As to the electric who will probably need to talk to the neighbor who has not been paying an electric bill. They will need to reimburse you for what they think is their portion. Once the repairs are done, your bill will shrink. Then you will have to play a numbers game to figure how much to request back from the neighbor. You may want work it as square footage vs. square footage. Con Ed may credit you a guessed amount and charge them for it.
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Old 10-17-2010, 06:31 PM
4 posts, read 7,995 times
Reputation: 11
We are indeed paying under 2K/month, but no one's ever said anything about being rent-stabilized/rent-controlled... In fact, the LL had wanted to raise our rent by $200 for this new lease (I somehow got them to agree to let us pay our original rent for the first 6 months, then with a $50 increase for the final 6), which I think is beyond the bounds of any rent stabilization parameters... Or am I totally wrong?

But I digress. To clarify my original posting and hopefully answer some of your questions:

Our sublease--which spanned the first 7 months of our living here--essentially amounted to us taking over the lease from the prior tenants, since the prior tenants had no plans to ever move back in. In other words, my boyfriend and I became the new "prime tenants," even though we only signed a sublease. Still, everyone (landlord included) was aware of the situation--which is why I received an email from the "management company" (i.e., the landlord's former secretary) stating that our sublease had expired and they would be sending us a new, standard lease to sign.

(NOTE: The sublease expired July 31, 2010; yet we weren't contacted about signing a new lease until the middle of August 2010; and, by the management's own doing, the new lease didn't begin until October 1, 2010--in other words, there were two months (August and September) that we were living here and paying rent (landlord cashed all checks immediately) without an actual, tangible lease in-hand... Does that change things in regard to our current rights, since the landlord still hasn't given us a signed copy of the new lease???)

As you advised, I will certainly be sending a certified letter to the management company--although I doubt that anything short of taking him to court is going to garner a response from this guy...

As for the electricity, we have contacted Con Ed--they were the ones who first told us (over the phone) that our meter was hooked up to two apartments; and they confirmed that fact this past Thursday, when they came to check the meters in person. Unfortunately, all Con-Ed can do to affect any kind of change is to send a letter to the landlord stating that our electricity bill will be put under his (the landlord's) name if this problem isn't resolved within 4 months. They can't force him to pay anything until 4 months have passed, and they certainly cannot force him to reimburse us for any overpayments.

(Regardless--and this probably goes without saying--it is impossible to determine the electricity usage for each apartment when both feed into a single meter; so, by that logic, it's also impossible to determine the exact amount that we overpay each month).

Does that clarify things a bit more? (Hope so! ) So, it still seems that we'll have to take legal action in order to get anything out of this guy; but I'm still worried that if we do move forward with taking him to court, he'll counter that by trying to evict us (since we still don't have a copy of our lease with his signature on it). Is this a valid concern? What should we do?? Advice, please!!

Thank you!!

Last edited by MGlass; 10-17-2010 at 06:44 PM..
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Old 10-18-2010, 05:39 AM
979 posts, read 4,392,266 times
Reputation: 519
how many apartments in the building?
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Old 10-18-2010, 07:50 AM
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13 - 2 each on mezzanine and penthouse levels, 3 on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors.
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Old 10-18-2010, 08:14 AM
979 posts, read 4,392,266 times
Reputation: 519
You are definitely stabilized. Even without the lease nothing short of dynamite will get you evicted. Unless of course he has never registered the apartments in which case you will also have a case for getting mucho money back from the LL. Unless of course the building is a firetrap in which case Tim Lynch, forensic engineer and vampire for the DOB will swoop down and forcibly evict all tenants on a moment's notice. I'm being somewhat facetious of course.
You can check the C of O on line at:
DOB Building Information Search
plug in the address and check the C of O in the upper right hand area. This would at least tell you if the building is legally up to code for residential and guarantee to keep vampire Lynch away. Works better then garlic or a cross on the door.
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:13 AM
4 posts, read 7,995 times
Reputation: 11
Found the C of O -- says that the building only has 4 stories (if you count only the levels that have apartments on it, there are 5 -- if you count the ground floor and the basement, too, then there are 7) and 10 units (as I said, there are 13). Does this change anything?

And can you explain to me how it's automatically rent-stabilized??
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Old 10-18-2010, 03:34 PM
979 posts, read 4,392,266 times
Reputation: 519
NYC Rent Guidelines Board

This will also give you access to the list of registered stabilized apartments. Each one in each building is required to be registered with the DHCR

Check here

NYC Rent Guidelines Board

Regarding the basement (cellar): It should be part of the C of O. usually designated as storage. Actually a basement can be used residentially if it is 50% above grade.
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