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Re: Rights for roomate/share

Posted by Carlos Grau on November 12, 1997 at 03:17:30:

In Reply to: Rights for roomate/share posted by Justin on November 11, 1997 at 10:32:36:

: Here's the situation - I rented an apartment share, not from the
landlord, but from the current tenant. The agreement was that I was to
rent one bedroom in a 2 bedroom apartment and pay my rent to the tenant.
First question: Is the current tenant legally my landlord? (He is the only
one on the lease.)

You're a "roommate" or "occupant", but the relationship with the prime
tenant is similar to a landlord/tenant.

I gave the tenant a security deposit and rent for last
month. The problems occured when I decided not to pay rent this month
given what I believe to be unlivable conditions (the heat hadn't been
turned on yet - there were problems with the hot water heater for about
4 days last month). When I told the tenant (whom I am considering to be
my landlord) that I wouldn't pay in full because of the problems, he told
me to either pay up or move out immediately. I said that I wouldn't do
that - he threatened to move my stuff into storage if I wouldn't either
move or pay. I moved my stuff out last week.

Depends on what city/state you're in, but in most places it's illegal
for him to resort to "self help" and he would need to commence a
suit as if he were your landlord. It's called (in NYC) a "licensee"
proceeding where the prime tenant revokes his permission for you to
continue to live there. But consider that as a tenant, he might not have
had control over some of the items you mentioned and it might have been
the real landlord's negligence.

You may have a problem with the security deposit, as he may claim you
needed to give 30 days notice. But given the acrimony and his threatening
to move your stuff, you could argue he waived any rights to a 30 days
notice. That you stayed with your girlfriend is immaterial. If this is
so, then why were you so upset about the lack of heat (it does beg the
question). To deal with the deposit, go to small claims court.

: I would like to get my security deposit back from this person. I know that the check I wrote to him has been cashed. What are my legal rights in this situation?

: I should mention that I never actually stayed in the apartment, I moved my stuff in but the total time it was there was less than a month - I continued to stay with my girlfriend the whole time.

: Can I take him to housing court, or would that apply (legal landlord issue), or small claims court? Given that I have signed no documents with this person and our agreement was only verbal, do I have any rights in this situation at all? And if so, how do I go about enforcing them? Please help!

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