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Former Landlord Lying to Prospective New Landlords

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Former Landlord Lying to Prospective New Landlords

Postby Bjccgreen » Tue Jun 16, 2020 12:45 pm

I moved out of my rent-stabilized apartment in mid-May. I had been in the apartment for 27 years. I never missed one payment or had legal issues with the landlord/management company. My lease came up for renewal and I asked for more time to consider renewing due to current events. I then had a conversation with the management company when I decided not to renew. They will completely reno apartment and raise rent to market. I left a very clean apartment before the end of the month and sent keys via Fed-EX. I've since found out that the guy at the management company is giving me a bad reference. Not only a bad reference, he told a prospective landlord that there were bedbugs in the apartment. I have exterminators report stating this is not the case. After several attempts to get him on the phone, I spoke to him yesterday and he said he can't give me a positive reference. When I asked why he responded that I was a bad tenant, told me not to call back, and hung up on me. After living in one place for 27 years I need a reference to rent. Any ideas as to what I can do? Considering getting a lawyer to contact on my behalf. Lost cause? Of course, there were numerous non-permitted renovations done in building over the years. Thanks
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Re: Former Landlord Lying to Prospective New Landlords

Postby TenantNet » Tue Jun 16, 2020 2:25 pm

Since last year, while a LL can renovate an apt during a vacancy, and there are still IAI increases, they are more limited and doing them just raises the rent. They cannot any more deregulate the apartment when a certain rent threshold has been reached.

Returning keys can have pitfalls. One scam LLs use is to claim they never got the keys, and therefore the unit is still legally in the possession of the tenant ... and if the lease has not expired, they would still be liable for the rent until the end of the lease. Many tenants are not aware of this until after a substantial amount of time has gone by and the LL comes after them in court.

That is why tenants should personally return the keys so they can affirm that the LL accepted the keys and get a written receipt for the keys and a sign-off on possession.

You said you sent them via Fedex. You should have records that the keys were sent by Fedex, and the receipt of the package. It's not the best way to do it, but probably will work if the LL claims non-receipt.

What you are experiencing is why tenants should have a walk-through with the LL before returning possession. That gives the LL the opportunity to discover and memorialize issues, and sign-off on all other things. Tenants are advised to take many photos ... seriously, hundreds of photos in order to prove against any LL claims.

This sounds like a scam so they can avoid returning your deposit. You didn't mention the deposit, but if so, you can take him to small claims court and/or go through the NYS Attorney General's office.

As for the reference, that's more difficult, and might require legal action, or threat of legal action. Of course, a lawyer will cost some money, so consider that in your decision. I do not know if this falls under a claim of defamation, but it might. Of course the LL might double-down and claim what they are saying is true. That could come down to he said-she said. So a threat of legal action might not always work.

If you can show a) the conditions do not exist, or b) you made good-faith complaints and this is just retaliation, then that might help. And of course, such letter to the LL are just posturing unless you are willing and able to follow-through with legal maneuvers.

You can report the violations - and you should - but that won't solve your immediate problem.

As for lawyers, normally we point to our tenant attorney advertisers* on this site. One of our advertisers, James Fishman, also covers consumer law and the tenant blacklist. See his site at http://fishmanlaw.nyc/

Another law firm you might consider is Lewis and Lin, at https://www.defamation.nyc/ I just Googled "libel slander" and they popped up.

As it turns out, I have personally used Lewis and Lin (Brett Lewis) on several occasions for trademarking issues, not tenant or defamation issues. They are not one of our advertisers, but I've had good experience with them. Their main site address is https://ilawco.com/ but it does seem they are working on defamation issues as well. if you do call them, also please tell them you found them through us (we get no fee from them).

Some law firms will offer free consultations, but if they do work for you, then that will cost some money. They will tell you the nature of any relationship and the cost. We won't know.

* Various tenant attorneys advertise on TenantNet and that helps keep this web site operational. These are regular ads where advertisers pay a flat fee. There is no kickback or referral fee back to TenantNet. If one does call one of our advertisers for legal services or consultation, we ask that you tell them you saw their ad on TenantNet -- so they know someone saw it.
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