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big mess in brooklyn

Posted by Lori on August 04, 2001 at 09:25:41:

I have just rented a 3 bedroom apartment in a pre-war house in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. No lease or contract of any sort was signed and we suspect that rent is not being reported, the apartment is not registered and tax is not being paid on the income made from rent. The landlady claims that she is too busy to go to the bank and hence wants all rent in cash. She has failed to return any pages since we moved in four days ago, yet she came into the apartment without notice at 7 AM on a Saturday. She claims to have informed us that she does not allow pets (she didn't) and flipped when she saw our (declawed and litter trained) cat, and is now demanding that we sign an agreement that we will be responsible for any damage caused by the cat. Also, the previous tenants were clearly filthy and the fridge and oven were infested with cockroaches and there was a dead mouse in the oven. She claims that there is no pest problem and will not provide clean new appliances. Finally, she will not provide a key for the mailbox, claiming that it is an antique and we will damage it. She says that she comes over every day and puts the mail out, however we have not seen her here at all aside from the single 7 AM visit. In short, we are wondering what our rights are if this is an illegal lease, how we can determine whether the lease is legal, whether we need to sign an agreement re. the cat (this seems like a recipe for us to held responsible for previous or unrelated damage), what recourse we have against unnotified entry and is it legal to withhold access to mail?

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