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Illegal rentor's rights?

Posted by Johnny Quest on November 27, 2001 at 22:41:48:

Ok I know I don't have any rights, but I thought I'd find out what's what with the majority of us who enter into illegal sublets and then get screwed.

Here's my story. A friend of a friend had this rathole in Hell's Kitchen that he had since the seventies. He told me his rent was a certain amount and that by law he couldn't make any money off of me, so he'd just charge me what he paid. Two years later and there's the eviction notice on the door. I tell him, he hires a lawyer to contest (based on the fact that the actual papers were given to me and not to him, the primary tenant) and then aparently caved and/or settled. He calls me and tells me I have less than fifteen days to get out. So, ok, being a NY pack rat for twelve years, I do.

Now he's asking me for the rent/utilities money I was witholding in order to save up a large enough nut during the "contesting" period in order to move out at a moment's notice.

No problem; I agreed to the rent and fair's fair, until I found out (from official forms sent to him via me during the "contesting" period) that he was actually charging me at least $200 over his legal rent.

Now, we signed nothing and I suppose I don't HAVE to pay him a dime, but I am--all evidence to the contrary--a decent human being, but I don't feel I should include the overcharge in my payment (and, considering I lived there for two years, the accumulated overcharge covers the entirety of my back rent and then some).

So, first, what if anything legal is involved here and second, thoughts and opinions about repayment? He told me he wasn't charging anything over his rent and we did agree on the price, but I still feel totally screwed.

Please bear in mind that while I lived there the construction on the building next door to ours had destroyed the roof (my ceiling) and left an open slit along the ceiling that turned my/his apartment into a ten foot long waterfall during rainstorms and was not fixed for over six months!

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