Posted by MikeW on December 23, 1997 at 16:15:22:
In Reply to: illegal sublet mgt co. question posted by valerie on December 17, 1997 at 17:39:03:
: I've been illegally subletting an apartment for the past 3 years,
: now the prime tenant wants me to pay an extra 200 a month to keep
: the apartment, and she in turn would live with her boyfriend.
: Should I pay the extra money or contact the management co. - I'd
: like to stay in the apt. (rent stabilized) but I don't know my rights.
Did you know that you are entitled to triple damages if you are overcharged on a sublet? If you can prove the rent you are being charged, you can sue the prime tenant. Also, the prime tenant can lose the apartment if the landlord finds out the it's being sublet illegally.
Now you don't want to cut your nose off to spite your face, but if you play your cards right, you have alot of leverage to negotiate with the prime tenant. Make sure that:
A). You can prove you live there. Utility bills, cancelled checks for utilities, mail delivered to you at the address, witnesses to your living there, etc.. If there is any question that you live there, the prime tenant would have to start a house court action to evict you. They wouldn't do this because it would be a huge red flag to the landlord. Remind the prime tenant that you can have them arrested, and sue them, if they try to lock you out.
B). You can show how much you pay the prime tenant. This could be tougher. If you pay be check, great. Most illegal sublets get paid by cash. You may have to be a little sneaky here. Get the prime tenant to admit on a hidden tape recorder as to the rent. Have a witness count the money, and then go with you to the prime tenant, and watch you give in the rent. Even a pattern of withdrawls from your bank account around the same day of the month can help.
I might not be a bad idea to talk to a lawyer, especially if you want to get aggressive. They'll know exactly what to do. You might even work a deal with the landlord where the prime tenant gets evicted, and you take over the apartment at the regulated rent + a vacancy increase, which would be alot less then your probably paying now. Be very careful with this though. You'd probably want a lawyer to broker that kind of deal.
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