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Downtown NYC tenant rights/reductions/lease break

Posted by AS on November 15, 2001 at 15:15:11:

I would like information on tenant's rights pre-Septmeber 11th. My building owner provided 2 weeks of relief and then sent out new re-leases stating that for 1 year, the rent would be reduced 10% a month. There was, however, a clause stating that after that year is up, the owner has the right to bring rents right back up to their pre Sept 11th amount + the 4% rent increase (stabilization law).

There are 2 groups of tenants - those that want to leave and abandon their lease, those that would like to stay but do not consider 10% a reasonable adjustment considering the air quality, noise, dust, etc of the environment.

There is currently a rent strike going on thruoghout the building to boycott the owner. We would like to negotiate with the owner, but he keeps sicking his attorneys on us and we are scared. Obviously, he does realize there is a poblem. Although he claims that a 10% rent reduction is 'fair', I find it interesting to see that apartments in the building that used to go for 2500 a month are now in the paper for 1600 a month. Not exactly 10%, no?

Tenants who did not pay November rent were issued a notice yesterday saying the rent must be paid within 3 days or the tenants will be evicted.Is this legal?

In any case, I would like more information on our rights.

1.) Does rockrose have the right to set the reduction limit - should we have any input?

2.) Do we have a legal argument for breaking leases?

My opinion is that the warrant of habitability states that the premises must be inhabitable - even if it is not the owner's fault, he is responsible. The air quality is horrendous. My owner hired a air quality company who took samples, supposedly everything came back 'normal'. However, another tenant in the building had an independent adjustor from FEMA in who deemed the place uninhabitable. Since the smoke and dust are still very bad, I tend to believe the FEMA one is correct.

Please advise

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