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Re: Desperately need advice on lease options - please help!

Posted by Scott Bowman on July 29, 1997 at 17:07:57:

In Reply to: Desperately need advice on lease options - please help! posted by Jen g. on July 28, 1997 at 21:14:04:

: TenantNet:

: I am in an apartment with no stove and a refrigerator that doesn't work. I have asked for replacements and for some other repairs, even through an attorney, and nothing has been done. The landlord apparently takes it as a personal offense that I even asked and has responded by continual attempts at harassment and intimidation (such as round the clock banging against my wall, loud knocking on the door at 3 & 4 am, inappropriate sexual comments, and entering my apartment and breaking things when I am gone). I at first tried withholding the rent to try and get repairs, He responded by suing me in small claims for an amount four times what I owe. He didn't show up & the case was dismissed. He hasn't sued in Landlord Tenant court - at first because the building was registered, now possibly because his behavior has been too outrageous to have any chance at winning. i tried also paying the rent, hoping that I could at least live in my apartment peacefully without noise or break-ins, even if I couldn't have appliances. I have offered to leave and drop claims to any HP or harassment suit, but he won't agree to let me leave, either. What are my options? Currently, I'm not allowed to live there in peace or privacy; and I'm not allowed to leave either. It doesn't make sense.

: Thanks for your assistance!!


Dear Jen G.,
I can't answer all your questions.
I can give you some good advise.

If the landlord ever comes by your apartment and starts banging on anything
whatsoever, you should call the police immediately and let them know that
you feel threatened by your lanlord's aggression at that moment (if you
really do). It would be great if he actually doesn't catch on that you are
calling the police, and they come in and actually witness him displaying
violence. Either way, when they come over, make sure they make a report
(on the spot) of the incident as you describe it and if they actually
see the landlord doing anything you should ask them to include it in their
report. Make sure that you can obtain a copy of this report.
You will then have proof that your landlord has harassed you and once you
make him aware of that he will then most likely keep a distance from you.
The new law imposes a high penalty for harassment to a landlord.
Also, if you have a tape-player, try to record the noises and possible
threats made by your landlord. Try to get him talking during the incident
so that it makes your case stronger that it is an authentic recording
and not someone else making the noises. Whether a court will or will not
accept it into evidence is not something to distract you. Go ahead
and record it. it could only come in handy.

Your landlord does not have the right to enter your apartment when you
are not present. The only event in which he can, is if an extreme emergency occurs
occurs making it absolutely necessary to enter. This is the law.
(Proving that he entered while you were absent though is a tough one.
Of course at a personal expense, you can obtain surveillance equipment
but I'm sure you don't care to hear that).
I'll tell you how I solved this problem, but this is not a suggestion.
I installed my own lock (at my own expense) on the door and refused to
give a copy to the landlord. He said that I had to. I told him I wouldn't.
He then said that he would drill my lock (the second lock) off the door.
[Note that I didn't remove the original Building Lock].
I told him that if he were to do so and I were to get robbed that day
(of my lucrative possesions, let's say oh, $5000 of stereo equipment
that I couldn't seem to find a receipt for) that i would sue him for
reimbursment for all of my losses resulting from the drilling incident.
You see normally, there would be no hole in my door there, and I could feel
safe that i wasn't going to get robbed. But now that the owner would have
put this hole in my door, he would have made my apartment more vulnerable
to theft since a burglar could now look into my apartment and see that
there was nobody inside. It would be the landlord's fault that I got
robbed. And i can't help thinking that i probably would have been robbed
on that exact day that the drilling would have occured.
However, this would by no means be an air-tight case for me and i am not
suggesting that you do this. It worked for me.

You should consider going through the official channels of bureaucracy
just to have official stuff in your back pocket.
If your apartment had a working stove and or refrigerator when you
moved in or your lease simply says that it should, then go ahead and
file forms for Rent Reductions with DHCR. You are entitled to these
services ('a working stove' and/or a 'working refrigerator') since your
lease says that you are supposed to have that or since you had that
when you moved in. If these service are not provided to you then you
are entitled to a rent reduction. This form is easy to fill out yourself.
Call DHCR and have them mail to you form RA-81.
You may want to give them an alternate mailing address
since it wouldn't be unusual for such mail to "disappear".

As a final note, if you incur any expenses as a result of your lanlord's
actions, any expenses whatsoever, keep receipts for everything.
Hopefully you can leave them somewhere where your landlord can't
get a hold of them, such as at a friend's house.
Your landlord relies on your passiveness to keep abusing you.
If he were my landlord, he'd one sorry sucker right now.

Take charge.

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