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Yikes, wrong advice from Tenant.Net!!

Posted by nyhawk on December 07, 2001 at 06:07:58:

In Reply to: Re: So the lawyer told me... posted by TenantNet on December 01, 2001 at 15:11:25:

The statement --- "You can't go to court and start an overcharge proceeding. You must withhold rent and when you are taken to court by your landlord, the overcharge and lack of registration would be part of your defense -- that is what people mean by going to court on an overcharge" --- is WRONG!!!!!!!!!

A tenant believing he or she has been overcharged most certainly should -- as I have repeatedly advocated on this forum -- start a rent overcharge lawsuit against his or her landlord in either Civil Court (if the overcharge is alleged to be under $25,000)or Supreme Court (if over $25,000). The common scenatio of withholding rent and thus forcing a nonpayment proceeding and then counteclaiming for a rent overcharge is a viable option, but not necessarily the best because in that scenario the tenant is perceived as a dead-beat-who-is-not-paying-rent-tenant -- or in defense position. Suing in Civil or Supreme, while continuing to pay rent (with the rent overcharge amount accruing) deflates the landlord's knee jerk response that the tenant is a dead beat. Or, if ya wanna get sophisticated, you can start a rent overcharge in Civil or Supreme and THEN stop paying rent. The landlord will bring a non-pay in Housing Court and try and combine the two cases, but appellate authority bars a court from ordering any rent deposit during a case started in Civil or Supreme if the allegation of rent overcharge is, the landlord, stuck in two lawsuits and not getting any rent, will have a strong incentive to settle quickly with the tenant.

I suggest looking at my past posts on where to file a rent overcharge complaint for a further discussion of these issues.

Good luck!

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