Posted by chelsea on December 02, 2001 at 11:10:15:
In Reply to: Re: And housing court is better because... posted by Michael on December 01, 2001 at 16:50:40:
There are various schools of thought on the advantages of Housing Court as opposed to DHCR. (Also regular civil court, or even federal court, according to one regular participant in this forum.)
This issue has surfaced quite often on this forum. You might search the archives for past discussions. You might search "advantages" and "dhcr." Or "nyhawk," who I think had quite a bit to say on that.
I agree generally with tenant.net that it's better to hire a lawyer, stop paying rent and be taken to Housing Court with a nonpayment case. DHCR is really slow, cumbersome and pro-landlord. But if it's a simple case, you don't need a lawyer, so it can cheaper. And for many tenants, it's less scary than withholding rent.
I think that if you're not ready to go to Housing Court, and absolutely cannot afford a lawyer, it's better to file with DHCR than do nothing at all. DHCR might act on it more quickly than you think, and if not, chances are you can take it to Housing Court later on (this is part where I disagree somewhat with tenant.net). The overcharge would then be calculated according to the date you filed with DHCR, rather than some later date, which can make a big difference in the legal rent and overcharge. I know of many cases, including my own, in which the Housing Court was willing to take up a case previously filed with DHCR (particularly if the lease is about to expire and DHCR has had the case for a year or two and hasn't acted, or if there's a question whether the housing is subject to regulation at all).
A caveat: Though what tenant.net describes isn't automatic, it certainly does happen sometimes. Housing Court judges do send cases back to DHCR, with a "request" that DHCR act within a certain amount of time. So you have to weigh the pros and cons, and the risks.
Also, tenant.net's advice to talk to another lawyer is good. Not that the first one was necessarily wrong, but it's good to hear the opinions of several, and decide which approach and which lawyer is best for you.
- test TenantNet 12/21/01
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