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Hey Lawyers! Kind of complicated question about legality of my lease

 
 
Reply Tue 8 Nov, 2011 03:20 pm
Okay, so here's the story:

I have been in my apartment for a little over a year. The new lease started on October 1st. Now, the thing is, I signed the lease, sent it to the management company, and started paying the rent, but they never sent me a signed copy of the lease back. They did take my payment for October though, at the new rent.

Now, on November 1st, a new company bought my building, and they are telling me that since I never had a signed lease, I technically don't have a lease. They are using this loophole to raise my rent about $500 in one shot. I can't afford this.

Another little wrinkle is that my lease (the one I signed and my incompetent dick of an old landlord never sent me back) says that I have a PREFERENTIAL rent of the amount I pay, but the ACTUAL rent on the lease is the higher amount, which is the amount that these new greedy pieces of **** want to charge me.

I just wanted to know if I have a leg to stand on here, or if it's a lost cause. I think I have to just move, because I can't afford the rent increase they want from me. But technically, since I paid one month after I signed my new lease in October, and the old management company accepted that check, isn't that enough to show that I have a lease at that amount? But if I don't have signed lease, does that matter?

Can anyone let me know whether I have any chance of keeping my place at the rent I was paying?

I doubt it, but I thought it was worth a shot.

thanks.
 
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Nov, 2011 03:23 pm
@kickycan,
ugh...

I'll wait for the lawyers to smell the blood in the water, kicky.

but this don't look so good for you...
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  4  
Reply Tue 8 Nov, 2011 04:03 pm
Have you gone to the previous landlord's office and asked for a copy of the lease you signed?
(Life lesson #127658/a Never sign anything without making a copy of it.)

Do you have a copy of your previous lease with them showing when that lease would end and at what amount you were paying? If they accepted the October 1st payment at a different rate, that would be proof of what you are claiming, but I don't know what good that will do under these circumstances.

Tell them (they know this) they are required by law to provide you with a copy of your contracted lease and that failure to do will cost you $7000 in increased rent, an amount that you will be suing for, should they fail to deliver the document.

Joe(that's after you ASK nicely for it.)Nation

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PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Nov, 2011 08:11 pm
Since the check was cashed, that would indicate acceptance of the payment rate.

Your question is: can new owners come in and alter a lease agreement that is currently in force?

I would say that you have a good case in establishing a current lease, but whether or not the new owner can change it might have to be fought out in court.

What do the other tenants say? Surely someone else is in your shoes. Are ALL the rents raised?
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gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Nov, 2011 11:01 pm
@kickycan,
With interest on mortgages at 3 - 4% and nearly all housing values underwater, you should be switching to owning if at all possible. Given the circumstances, no judge or jury in the land would say anything about you walking away from whatever is left of your lease.
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joefromchicago
 
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Reply Wed 9 Nov, 2011 12:11 am
@kickycan,
Landlord-tenant laws are highly localized. That's especially true in NYC, which is heavily regulated and partially rent-controlled. I have never even heard of such a thing as "preferential rent," so I probably won't be of much help. That being said, contact your previous incompetent dick of a landlord and get a copy of your lease. You're entitled to it, so tell him if he doesn't give you a copy you'll contact the NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation & Development. That'll probably do the trick.

You signed a lease and you paid a month's rent. That sounds like you had a lease to me, even if you don't have a copy of it. If the new landlords are saying you don't have a lease, tell them you'll contact the authorities. One of the hardest things for a landlord to do is evict a tenant. It's a real hassle, even without the layers of bureaucracy and the pro-tenant rules of NYC. So if you really want to stay in your place, pay the old amount of rent and tell them that, if they want $500 extra per month, they'll have to take you to court. That's a risky strategy, to be sure, but it's better than living on the streets.
kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Nov, 2011 07:24 pm
@joefromchicago,
Thanks everyone. So...when you say, ask my old landlord for a copy of the lease, I can't do that, because they never signed it. There is no lease with their signature on it. Are you saying I should insist that they send me one with their signature? Because I don't know how I could possibly make that happen.

I do have the lease that I signed and sent back to them, but it only has my signature on it. Do you think I can use that as proof or evidence or whatever that I had a lease?

Thanks again.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Nov, 2011 08:02 pm
@kickycan,
kickycan wrote:
I do have the lease that I signed and sent back to them, but it only has my signature on it.


where did you get the lease you signed? did it come from the old owners/managers with a letter?
kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2011 08:20 am
@ehBeth,
They sent it to me after we'd negotiated what my new rent was going to be. I signed it, sent it back, and began paying that negotiated amount. I paid that rent amount in October, and they took my check and deposited it, but then the new company took over on November 1st and told me I didn't have a signed lease.
Ticomaya
 
  4  
Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2011 08:47 am
@kickycan,
I echo what Joe said above, and I also know nothing about NYC landlord/tenant law.

But I'd argue you had a binding lease/agreement (you and the landlord negotiated, and the landlord sent you a lease, which was their offer to you of the terms of the new lease, and you signed the lease and paid the first month's rent under the new lease, which constituted your agreement with and reliance upon their offer).
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  4  
Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2011 09:58 am
@kickycan,
kickycan wrote:
I do have the lease that I signed and sent back to them, but it only has my signature on it.

Oh, OK. I thought you didn't have any copy of the lease.

kickycan wrote:
Do you think I can use that as proof or evidence or whatever that I had a lease?

I think your copy of the lease, combined with your payment of the first month's rent and the dick landlord's acceptance of that payment, together constitute evidence of an agreement to rent the apartment to you under the conditions of the lease.

The alternative is that, by over-staying your previous lease, you are now considered a month-to-month tenant. The new landlord could then evict you on thirty-days' notice. That is, assuming your place isn't rent-controlled. But, as I mentioned before, evicting someone who doesn't want to be evicted can be a lengthy, complicated process. You can use that to your advantage in any negotiations with the new landlord.
Mame
 
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Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2011 10:44 am
@joefromchicago,
I agree that if you have your signed copy of the lease, it shows intent. The dick landlord can always be called to 'testify' or confirm it. Why would he send it to you if he didn't want it signed? Likely he got busy preparing to leave so forgot to sign it. Is anyone else in your bldg in the same predicament?

Anyway, stay calm, cool and collected.
Rockhead
 
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Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2011 12:01 pm
@Mame,
mame, I think it may be time for a back-up plan.

Kicky, is there a Home Depot in Noo York city?

you're gonna need some two by fours, and some marine plywood, and lotsa nails. on your way back to barricade yourself in, you need to stop and see dave for some ordinance. plan on enough ammo for a long siege.

good luck...
0 Replies
 
kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Nov, 2011 06:59 pm
Thanks guys. And Rockhead, that's a good idea. Instead, I was thinking I'd just move out without letting them know I've moved, change the locks so they have to break the door down to get in, and leave every bowel movement I have up until that day in a big pile in the middle of the kitchen. Or maybe I could use it to write, "the new landlord's wife is a whore" all over the walls. Something like that would give me some satisfaction at least.

But seriously...

EhBeth, what you said about a month-to-month lease is exactly what this new management rep told me when I said to him that I had a lease that they sent me and that they had accepted my first month's rent at that price. He said it doesn't matter because without the lease signed by the landlord it's considered a month to month situation, which means I'm still screwed.

I think I probably have a 30-40% chance of getting them to let me stay at my current rent for the rest of the lease term, and if I move out, I think I probably have even less chance of recovering the two to three thousand dollars I will now have to pay to move because of all this. (odds calculated based on the fact that I don't have a lawyer and don't know how the hell to fight this without paying for one, combined with the fact that lately I seem to have turned into the living embodiment of Charlie Brown trying to kick that stupid football).

So I was thinking that rather than entangling myself in a legal matter that I'm unprepared for, I might just leave and try to recover my moving expenses simply by not paying these jerks another dime and leaving at the end of December.

I sent the rent check to the old landlord for the month of November on the 1st, like a good tenant, but since they aren't the landlords anymore, they sent my check back to me.

If I keep that check and these new scumbags keep my deposit, which of course they will, that would mean that I will be saving myself about one month's worth of rent. ( the security deposit would cover November's rent, after that I'm living on their dime here).

My moving costs likely will be more than that amount, but instead of losing over $2000, I'd be leaving with only a few hundred to maybe a thousand dollars wasted. If I can make that happen, I might be able to live with the situation without finding out where the owner lives and throwing a brick through the bastard's front window.

Unless somebody here knows how I could sic a lawyer on these people without spending any money and without having this turn into a blemish on my credit report (it's spotless right now and I want to keep it that way), that is. If I could do that, then maybe I'd fight to stay for a while.

This is so frustrating though. The main reason I'm reluctant to fight this through a lawyer is that I'm afraid if I lose I'll end up having to pay a lawyer for nothing, and I'll still end up my beautiful spotless credit ruined because of it. And if I do lose, that is exactly what would happen, isn't it? I've been trying to call this number that I got through the Legal Aid Society to get advice and figure out my options, but have so far had no luck getting through. I hear they are very busy. I'll be trying them again on Monday.

Anyway, thanks for the advice so far.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2011 10:20 am
@kickycan,
kickycan wrote:
EhBeth, what you said about a month-to-month lease is exactly what this new management rep told me when I said to him that I had a lease that they sent me and that they had accepted my first month's rent at that price. He said it doesn't matter because without the lease signed by the landlord it's considered a month to month situation, which means I'm still screwed.

No, it just means they want you to think that you're screwed. Obviously, they're not looking after your best interests, so of course they're going to tell you that there's nothing you can do about it. That's because they don't want you to do anything about it. But just because they tell you you're screwed doesn't mean you're screwed.

Have you tried calling the NYC housing department? I'm sure they have some sort of help line or free legal aid or ombudsman or something. They're the ones who know all about NYC housing law.
kickycan
 
  3  
Reply Tue 15 Nov, 2011 10:33 pm
@joefromchicago,
Actually I just went insane for the last week in search of a new apartment, and I found one this morning. I was thinking that even if I do win against these a-holes all that would do is buy me another 10 months in this apartment and then I'll have to move out anyway.

So now at least I know I'll have a place to live in a month. I still think I should be able to sue these a-holes for my moving expenses. Somebody I know gave me some good information on where to find legal advice, so I'm going to call them tomorrow and see what they say.

Thanks, folks.
0 Replies
 
 

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