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Pending Live-Work Loft Eviction (SOS!!!)

Posted by Hara Viner on March 03, 1997 at 01:16:14:

Approximately 2 years ago, my boyfriend and I rented 4 floors in a loft
building in Soho as raw space. The building had been vacant for 11 years
and did not have functional plumbing, heat or electricity. We have spent
2 years of our lives and all of our financial resources renovating this
building which originally was uninhabitable. While undergoing renovation,
our contractors informed us that they believed that the building contains
asbestos and lead based paint. Before signing the lease, the landlord
informed us that the building was zoned live / work. The landlord, however,
would only agree to sign a commercial lease with us even though he had full
knowledge that we were residing in the building. For two years he has called
us at all hours of the day and night and on weekends and discussed residential
problems. Having fallen four months behind on our rent we signed a stipulation
last October and have failed to make much progress in catching up with the back
rent although we have paid current rent since then and made some other payments.
Our landlord has filed to evict us from the building for failing to comply with
the stipulation. He sent a 1-0 day notice dated Feb 2 which we did not recieve
until last week and the landlord's attorney informed us that it is now in the
warrant's office pending 72 hour notice.

We have the following questions:

WHAT DO WE DO FIRST/NEXT?
1. What legal recourse do we have at this stage of the litigation to
stay eviction proceedings? Strategically, do we file a Motion to
Modify the Order of Attachment or an Order to Show Cause?

2. Do we have any rights as residential tenants given the fact that
the landlord had full knowledge that we resided in the building even
though we signed a commercial lease and the building is not zoned for
residential living?

3. Do we have any defenses in an eviction proceeding given the hazardous
asbestos and lead paint conditions of the building?

4. Is a landlord legally "allowed to co-mingle the tenant's security
deposit with his own personal funds" and not pay the tenant any
interest" in a commercial rental in New York since the landlord stated
that in our lease?

5. The rental lease agreement was executed in New Jersey and the rental
premises are located in New York. Do we apply New York or New Jersey
landlord / tenant law? The eviction proceeding has been filed in
the New York court system. We are in New York in the building. The
lease doesn't specify where it was signed. Our corporation is NY the
landlord lives in NJ.

6. We subleased 2 floors of the building to other tenants. What are
these tenants' rights with respect to the pending eviction proceedings?

7. We incorporated prior to signing the lease and signed the lease as a
corporation. Can the corporation go bankrupt (reorganization) to stay
the eviciton even though the landlord put a rider in the lease saying
that bankcruptcy terminates the lease?





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