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New manager decleares my lease is illegal.

Posted by Rhinnan Kith on January 10, 1997 at 14:12:15:

In 9/95, I moved into an apartment in NYC that my best friend held a lease on. The lease expired 3/96 and she would not renew
as she would be graduating that May. My roommate's mother called the then management company to ask if the lease could be
assigned to me. They agreed and told her to cross out my roommate's name and write in mine, and have me sign the lease.
We did this and several weeks later I received a carbon of the lease with the owner's signature as well. We all assumed
that his signature, along with the fact that my rent checks were being accepted constituted agreement and acceptance of me
as the legal tenant. However, it appears the management company never officially swtiched the names on any documents
The management of the building changed hands in 11/96, my new roommate and I sent in our rent check as usual
in the envelope the new company provided. However, weeks later I noticed my check had not been cashed. I never received
notification from the new agent that they had not received my check. With the holidays in December, I did not notice that we
never received a payment envelope for December and nearly forgot to pay for that month. Then on New Year's Eve, I received
a notice from the new agen'ts lawyer stating I (or rather, my old roommate whose name still appeared on documents) was in
arrears for two months' rent plus a charge of $154 that the old management company never removed from our bill (this charge
was the amount we subtracted from our September rent - as we were directed to by the management company - when we had to
pay for a locksmith to repair our front door lock when our doorknobs feel out because the super was on vacation).
When I called the agent and inquired had he received my Novembr rent checks, he told me that either he or someone in his
office must have returned them when he saw the name on the checks did not match the name on the lease (my former roommate)
- this despite the fact that I had enclosed the rent checks in their payment envelope. He then accused me of being an illegal
sublettor and that the owner may want to go into my apartment and renovate and "get the full value" for the apartment.
In other words, I feel this guy is trying to either get me out so he can increase the rent on a new lease with me or someone else.
He told me not to pay him yet for rent for November, December, and January until he had cleared the matter up - despite
the fact that I was willing and able to pay the rent. He told me to fax him a letter stating what I new of the lease sitaution and call
him back at the end of the week. I faxed him the latter and when I called him back he rushed me off the phone, saying he had not
looked into the matter yet. When I inquired again as to what happened to the November rent checks as someone in his office must
have kept a record of returning them, he replied "That is, if we ever got them." thus changing his story. When I offered again to pay
him the rent, he refused. Ths week, I received a petition to evict for non-payment. Actually, it was addressed to my former roommate
who - as I have said - never signed the new lease. Can this petition be dismissed on the grounds that my former roommate has not
lived in the apartment since last May and was did not sign the lease? Also, is it possible for me to be liable for non-payment when
the agent refused to accept my rent payments? What are my rights in this case? Is this harassment? How should I proceed??
I have less than 3 months left on my lease in which case I will be moving. Is the just agent a moron who is just trying grab more
money from me?? PLEASE GIVE ME ADVISE!

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