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Over 250% rent increase.

Posted by Heidi E. White on April 06, 1998 at 21:40:41:

Four years ago, i remodeled a Brooklyn one-room apartment that had not been lived in for @15 years with a verbal agreement with the landlord/bakery owner that i would pay for all remodeling. The apartment is directly above the bakery; there are three units in all and the building is at least 80 years old.
The L proposed that I work part-time for her bakery, i.e. primarily as the accounts payable while managing the store, doing tradeshows, translating for the employees, and doing sales (with commission), etc. My pay was a low rate $4.50 an hour and my rent was $50. a month. This was her offer; i worked for her for two years.
A year and a half ago, she cancelled my sales commission with the reason that she had paid me enough. She raised my rent to $450 while stating that i could continue working for her at the same pay. I quit and have been paying $450 - (this lease ran out 5 months ago). I am a grad student and now have a couple of adjunct positions; however, I cannot financially accomodate this increase.
Last week, she told me that my new rent will now be $700. She stated that I must pay a $25./ month increase each month until I reach $700 as this would give me the time to adjust financially or move out. None of this is on paper except the old $450/mo. lease. Also, it should be noted that the apartment is not worth this amount. Last week, i had an electrical fire due to faulty wiring; the apartment has never been inspected and i'm sure there are a few violations.
Obviously, I do not want to move out. I apologize for all the details but i am searching for any possible recourse that might allow me to stay in my home. Thank you for any advice you might be able to give me.

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