Posted by Mark Smith on March 08, 1999 at 02:21:37:
In Reply to: Shared Meter? Landlord pays ALL posted by Maureen on March 07, 1999 at 11:34:51:
If it is an illegal multiple dwelling (three units or more), the landlord can't sue you in housing court, because the landlord does not have a Multiple Dwelling Registration (MDR). The MDR number has to be placed in the petition, and the case would be dismissed in housing court, if that defense is pleaded, possibly on a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment [RPAPL §711]. Pursuant to Sections 301, 302, and 325 of the Multiple Dwelling Law (MDL), you may not have to pay rent, although that would be a stronger defense for the tenant in the illegal basement unit, because the landlord probably does not have a vaild certificate of occupancy and/or MDR. The landlord might have to bring an expensive and time-consuming ejectment action in state Supreme Court to remove you. And you may not have to pay rent or use and occupancy because of MDL §301, §302, and §325. You can also counterclaim, based on the warranty of habitability, because of the conditions in your apartment, and also counterclaim because of the electrical overcharge. Unfortunately, you can't recover the rent you have already paid -- despite how Ed Koch rules on The People's Court.
If you never had a lease, you would not be responsible for the landlord's attorneys' fees, but unfortunately, the landlord would not be responsible for your attorneys' fees, if you are successful in court. But you should consult with an attorney. If you may no longer have to pay rent, you could use the withheld rent to pay your attorneys' fees. The attorney may be able to negotiate with the landlord, who might let you live rent-free for several months and pay you to move out. The issue of possible food stamp, Medicaid, and other fraud by the landlord and/or his wife might be used as leverage by your attorney as part of the negotiations.
: Hi! I live in a hole in Queens. A legal 2 family which has a family also living in the illegally converted cellar. The landlord has refused to give us a lease and we are far to poor to move right wow but are saving for that glorious day. We found that we were paying for the cellar "apartment" for the past three years. We had no idea! We reported this to Con Edison who investigated it and found that the landlord had indeed put the cellar on our meter so we got to pay both "apartments" electricity. We got a letter from Con Edison which said that if a landlord has a shared meter for electricity they are responsible for paying ALL apartments electric bills. We were reimbursed some, but the other, larger part of what our landlord stole from us we are still waiting for. On top of this, the landlord raised the rent to 900 dollars a month. We have no recourse but to move. We asked about courts and laws and were told at the Housing Court that since we have no lease, the landlord can do whatever they want. they can ask us to leave at any time, raise our rent to 10,000 dollars, ANYTHING.
: How is it that this is allowed? This apartment is not worth 300 dollars for the decrepit condition it is in. It is infested with roaches, has windows that don't stay open, pipes that are rotting, doors that literally have fallen OFF on us. The landlord even admitted the house is a "piece of ----" !!! How do they justify the 900 dollars a month? We have NOTHING here. We sometimes don't get heat or hot water, and the landlord has recently installed a very small water heater so we can't even fill our bathtub halfway before the water runs cold. We have tried combat to kill the roaches, we have practically no furniture left because it was destroyed by nests of roaches. The landlord lives downstairs and works. Her husband works. She has grown children who work. And she is on Medicaid and gets food stamps. What the hell is going on here?
: How can ANYONE find this acceptable? When I called to complain that there were no window guards, I was told they could do nothing. When i tried to report the illegal cellar, I again got no result. NY landlords, NY "law" What A JOKE!
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