Posted by J on February 01, 2001 at 22:29:37:
I wrote several weeks ago for advice when my nasty "landlord" changed the lock on me and refused to give me a key. I had to call the police to finally get the keys. My "landlord" is a woman in her 50s with a rent controlled apartment. I paid her rent (90% of it as I had learned later from the real landlord) on a month-to-month basis for 1 room and access to the kitchen in an eight room apartment on the Upper Westside. She falsely accused me and my friends of stealing bizarre items including her hats and scarves during the middle of summer, the cheese grater, and her mechanical pencils, then demanded that I move out in less than a week (while I was lying in bed with the flu, which turned into pneumonia from all the stress). I later learned from others in the building that she had accused her previous two tenants/roommates of stealing as well and kicked them out abruptly to collect more rent. Calling the police worked and I was able to get the legally required notice time to move. I finally moved out about 2 weeks ago while she was on vacation. I believe that she is now trying to come up with lies to keep my deposit. I am not sure what my rights are as a month-to-month tenant. I have read that tenants are able to claim interest on their deposits. Does this apply to month-to-month tenants as well? I had moved into the apartment in May 1999 and moved out in Jan. 2000. If I am able to collect interest, does that apply from the time I paid the deposit or from the time I moved out? I had deposited all of my rent payments and the security deposit (on time) into her Fidelity money market account. Would I be able to collect interest at the rate of that money market account?
Also, we never signed a lease. However, I volunteered to help pay for the electric utilities bill. She did not give me a copy of the bill, but now I have learned that I have been paying over 50% of the bill, when I was using less than 3/8 of the space of the apartment and was barely using the utilities at all because I was barely ever in the apartment. On occasions, I have also helped pay other bills such as the cable bill (though I never watched it) because of my sincere intention to maintain good relations with my roommate and to try to help her out whenever I could (not realizing that she would stab me in the back in the end). As such, I decided not to pay the last month's utility bill, although I had paid rent. Can she deduct that utility bill from my deposit? Also, can she deduct amounts for false claims of theft? I was not able to take pictures before I left, but have my mother as a witness to the condition of the apartment. I am planning to meet her this weekend to return her keys, which I had kept as she had asked me to water her plants while she was away on vacation, and hope to take pictures when I am there, though it might be tricky.
Also, is there any way that I could sue her for rent overcharge, as I had been paying 90% of the rent without ever knowing about it? Thank you very much for your advice.
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