Posted by james on February 10, 1999 at 00:15:10:
In Reply to: Desperately Seeking Legal Advice/Representation/HELP!!! posted by Jessica on February 09, 1999 at 23:34:42:
Since you already have a trial date, you obviously answered the first court date already, and hopefully put in an answer with counterclaim to your case, right? I would bring the documentation of your complaint to the DHCR and that you have filed a rent overcharge with the DHCR as well as a harrassment complaint with the DHCR. You would be entitled to a hearing for harrassment at the DHCR where the landlord would probably bring a lawyer. I believe a landlord can be penalized treble damages for a deliberate rent overcharge. But the DHCR takes over a year I heard for investigating a rent overcharge by looking up the rental history of your apartment, so you would like the court to delay decision on the rent amount until the DHCR makes a decision as to the legal rent of your apartment. Or you should request from the court at trial that you pay the lease amount signed by the landlord until the DHCR makes a decision.
you maybe should save the excess rent amount the landlord wants just in case a judge may order you to pay the extra $100 per month, which is doubtful, but possible, so that you don't get evicted if you don't have it.
Other issues is what the prior tenant paid, etc. that the landlord may prove his case with, and you would have to subpoena that person to prove that the legal rent paid is what the landlord says it is.
You could also get advice about the contract, having been signed by the landlord of the rent amount, by his own free will, that is a binding contract, whether he made a mistake or not. There are contract laws that are binding, and you have lived there over 30 days, etc. so he really doesn't seem to have a case. Call Colleen McGuire, a lawyer who know L & T law and contracts etc. or the City Wide Task Force on Housing Court 982-5512 after 12 or 1 p.m. They also have a table in the morning at housing court daily so you can get information at 111 Centre St. The pro se attorney at housing court is not always reliable and you have to sign up early to see one because there is a waiting list. I suggest you make sure you entered an ANSWER TO YOUR CASE and counterclaim if you have one, like money lost from work for this case which is harrassment. If you didn't answer your case, you may need legal advise how to enter one now, because you had to answer the case before the first court date, or if you asked for an adjournment on the first court date to seek legal counsel, the answer had to be submitted to the clerks office and served on the landlord before the second court date.
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