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Re: Tough situation regarding sublet. Can anyone help?

Posted by TenantNet on December 16, 1997 at 00:56:30:

In Reply to: Tough situation regarding sublet. Can anyone help? posted by Sucker on December 15, 1997 at 23:38:29:

: Recently, myself and two other people subletted an apartment from a
gentleman in Harlem. We each payed 1 mo. rent of $460 plus one months
security (Total $920) and I myself have since paid an additional months
rent. It recently came to our attention that the subletter has not paid
his rent since June and that the actual rent on the apartment is actually
only $642. Therefore, including my deposit (which I don't plan on seeing),
I have overpaid. $730 in rent. The subletter has given zero dollars of
our rent to the owner and now owes them $3400. He has pocketed about $3000
from us. My idea is to talk the owner into putting the lease in my name
(we are meeting tomorrow. I also plan on changing the locks at the same
time.O.K question time-
: 1.Does the landlord have any right to expect me (us) to come up with
any of the rent he has not received, keeping in mind that the other 2
havn't paid for Dec. yet. Or should I simply ask to pay for January now?
: 2. Do we have any "squatting rights on the apartment since we have
lived here 6 weeks and have made improvements such as painting and paid
the rent to the leasee in good faith? Or is the landlord free to rent the
apartment to anyone he wants?
: 3. Can the leasee's lease be considered void at this point because of
all the violations (i.e.-Subletting without permission, overcharging
failure to pay the rent for 6 mo.)
: 4. Does the leasee's pocketing our rent constitute a criminal offense
and should we consider pressing charges?

Subletting is allowed by law from Real Property Law sec. 226-b whether or
not the unit is rent control/stabilized or not. But if RS, the owner is
allowed to increase the rent during the period of sublet by one guideline
and it goes back down when the sublet ends. Further, if furnished, the
prime tenant can charge 10% additional over the legal rent. The prime
tenant is still responsible to the landlord for the rent and the owner
can seek the prime tenant's eviction (and the subtenants') for nonpayment.
I think there was a sublet FAQ in the March 1996 Met Council paper which
is on the web site.

The owner must go through the courts -- he cannot just kick you out.
But even so you have no "squatting" rights or right to assignment.
The owner would most likely take the prime tenant to court on illlegal
subletting (if it was illegal) and "terminate" the lease. On a holdover
case, the prime tenant could lose the unit. But of course if he shows up,
questions of his pocketing the money would arise. You can file an overcharge
complaint against the prime tenant, or you can sue the prime tenant for
overcharge. You are responsible to the prime tenant for the legal rent,
and the prime tenant is responsible (in turn) to the owner, but your
obligation is not to the owner as you don't have a landlord-tenant relationship
with him.

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