Posted by Dawn on September 19, 2000 at 16:17:09:
When I moved into my apartment over six years ago, I was very naive about my rights. Being single, young and alone, I was looking for a place that wouldn't be very expensive and found what seemed a too good to be true; a 5-room railroad flat in a six-unit apartment building (brownstone) in Queens, NY. The original tenant had been there for over 25 years and they were still moving her stuff out when I checked out the place (she had unexpectedly passed away at the hospital). I believe the apartment must've been rent stabilized for her. From the start, things went wrong. After signing the lease mid-month in March (dated March 15), two weeks went by after getting the lease signed by both myself and the landlord, when his go-between, the real estate agent, came back to me with the news the landlord wanted to get his rent on the first of the month, effective right away, and that I would have to sign a new lease. Ignorant of my rights, I re-signed a new lease, dated for april 1 instead, and came up with the extra money due earlier than I originally planned (I had just paid the 1 months rent and security). I had asked if I could have a pet (a cat) and get a roommate, which the landlord's agent (who also acted as rent collector for the landlord as well as represented him in all landlord matters, whether it was taking care of building repair, customer complaints, or going to court) at the time said was fine.
Since then, it has been a nightmare, with falling bathroom ceilings and shady dealings with the building owners changing hands three times this past year once I got hip to my rights as a tenant and started researching and reading and asking questions about my rights to having the landlord repair in the aging apartment. I misplaced my original lease and I have asked for a copy of my original lease from the previous two landlords, the original landlord and the second landlord, who handled the buliding for less than a year. Both were not forthcoming with my lease, except the latter sent me a copy of the lease that was signed ORIGINALLY! This lease should not be. To top it off, it's suspicious because there are things physically addded, TYPED in there that were not included in that one nor the second binding lease and this copy does not have anything attached to it, like an addendum, as I remember the original lease having more than one page. This "lease" has the old dates, an ORIGINAL signature in ink by the old landlord, and type written on the back are issues I brought to their attention after I signed and moved in, not before.
I have asked for the bank information where my security deposit is being kept, all fallen on deaf ears. I've a feeling the new landlord will conveniently start getting rid of the tenants, esp. the "troublemakers" of his six unit building. Is there any other place that the landlord HAS to submit this lease information or a copy of it to that I can get ahold of a copy for myself or am I doomed? Can the new landlord throw me out just by refusing to give me a renewal once my latest renewal expires March 31? I believe my apartment is rent stabilized now.
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