Posted by Anna on January 25, 2000 at 15:57:32:
In Reply to: eviction threats and witholding of rent for failure to make repairs posted by Laura Moran on January 22, 2000 at 12:11:33:
: Please help-
: One night, we came home in the evening and the (one and only) lock on our apartment broke so we couldn't use the key to get in. We couldn't reach the landlord (his office had gone home) so the building staff tried to help us for a while but eventually they called their regular locksmith to replace the lock as it was unrepairable and I paid the locksmith in cash. The landlord refused to reimburse the repair and after several months of asking (in writing), I just deducted the amount from my rent. I spoke to him once on the phone but he was verbally abusive so I have only written since them.
: The landlord has sent back the rent check as it included the deduction for the expense, and has threatened to evict us - he has sent over a half dozen memo's to us (called three day notice) and has recently threatened that his lawyers have told him that we will have to pay his legal fees, late payment fees, and potentially be evicted.
: I sent him back the rent check and asked hi m to put it in escrow, which he also refused, so I have opened a separate savings account for him (although he refused to give me a SSN or EIN so I had to open it in my name). I am now very concerned that he will be charging us all sort of fees and when we move at the end of the lease that he'll hold our deposits, etc.
: We are in Manhattan, not rent stabalized or controlled, live in a hi-rise building with over 200 units built in the 80's, I don't know if its a condo, I do know its not a coop. We have a written lease.
If the building is a rental, then the building staff who called the locksmith work for the abusive man you spoke with: so why did the locksmith not bill the landlord directly?
Sounds like you did all the right things so far. Read more about it and the Housing Court process on TenantNet Home.
Basically: if your lease has the appropriate legal fees clause, whoever wins in Housing Court gets legal fees, but only after a Trial. If you settle in Resolution Part (90% do), no one gets legal fees UNLESS both parties agree to it (don't do that).
Late fees: if they are in your lease, some idiot judge might award them after Trial.
General: he cannot sue you for the part of the rent that you offered and he refused, only for the locksmith deduction. Of course, he will sue for the whole 'unpaid' amount: you'll have to use 'offered rent, refused' as a defense. You might even get the case dismissed because of that.
If you want to stay out of Housing Court (a good idea!), you can pay the whole rent AND SUE HIM in Small Claims court for the locksmith. Small Claims is easier for non-lawyers.
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