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Eviction proceeding filed after I moved out

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Eviction proceeding filed after I moved out

Postby living_in_duhmerica » Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:14 pm

Hi there - I've been searching around for an answer to this with no luck. So, apologies if it's old hat.

I signed a lease on a 3br, 1 bath back in 2014 in a non-rent regulated apartment in New York City, with an Indian couple who were here on student visas. The third room remained vacant for the first month and we did not pay rent for that room. The landlord was basically operating it on a per room basis, even though the lease stipulated we owed the collective rent. I didn't know any better. A third person moved in on the 2nd month, an Israeli guy. He signed the lease, and life went on. Eventually tensions were brewing and the Israeli guy couldn't stand the couple. He got along well with the Hasidic landlord so we all convinced them to move out and the Israeli guy's friend moved into the third room. I then decided I wanted to leave. I didn't like the place, the arrangement, and wanted to move back to Texas. So I did. I paid my last months rent and got verbal confirmation from the landlord that it would be ok if I left and the Israeli guy's friend moved in. So by then it would be all Israeli folks who (I believe) were either on visa or living here illegally at that point. But by then, about 4 months in, the living arrangement had strayed so far from the initial contract that I figured there was no way this landlord was trying to hold anyone to anything but paying rent each month.

However, after I left he apparently realized that there was no one in the unit with a Social Security number. The managing company freaked out and stopped accepting rent from the Israeli's. He implored them to leave and evidently filed an eviction proceeding. Now, I haven't checked in with the Kings County Civil Court yet, but this was over 3 years ago, and I was no where near the apartment. And I have clear written documentation that I was moving out of the place never to return. But they used my social security number and name when filing this eviction with the Civil court. And now an eviction pops up on my tenant screening report (so far, with the "Tenant Safe" software). Now, I'm still friends with the main Israeli dude who lived there and he says that they ended on fine terms. They paid the landlord and packed up as soon as they were able. But I'm curious, what can I do? Is there anyway for me to get this off of my record? Should I confront the court or the tenant background software or both? At this point I'm trying to avoid the landlord and/or court just to not open any can of worms. But I also have clear written documentation of my entire time at that apartment and all the shady things that went down. Please, any insight would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
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Re: Eviction proceeding filed after I moved out

Postby TenantNet » Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:36 pm

I don't think what the LL is doing is legal, but answer a few questions...

You say you signed a lease. Was that for one room, or for the entire apartment? Were you the tenant of record/prime tenant for the entire apartment? Or were you just one of several roommates under someone else who was a prime tenant, or under the landlord? Please explain more who was tenant of whom?

When did the lease term start and end? What month did you move out and how much time was still on the lease?

Are you back in Texas now? Do you have a written release from the landlord?

"But they used my social security number and name when filing this eviction with the Civil court." Can you explain this a little more? Did they file an eviction proceeding against you even though you are not in possession of either the apartment or room?

BTW, as far as I know a social security number of a tenant is not needed in order to file a proceeding in Housing Court.

What software are you using? Can you provide a URL?

There is a tenant blacklist for almost anyone taken to housing court (even if you win), and the blacklist usually has many errors.

I have a thought on one way to proceed, but please fill in details with the above questions.
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Re: Eviction proceeding filed after I moved out

Postby living_in_duhmerica » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:44 pm

(sorry, miswrote a date before.. timeline updated:) Thank you for the quick reply. I'll try to be concise:

1.) I signed the lease along with the Indian couple and the Israeli guy. We were listed as three co-signers, responsible for the entire apartment, starting April 1, 2015 (I was mistaken earlier.. it 2 years ago), under the Landlord. I also have bills of receipt of them requesting my specific portion ($800/mo) each month, in writing. They billed us all separately for our portion of the rent as we'd verbally agreed it'd be divvied up.

2.) I am now back in New York. I was in Texas until June of 2016, and have been here ever since. The LL probably doesn't know this.

3.) Lease was from April 1, 2015 thru March 31, 2016. I moved out on July 30, 2015. The eviction was filed on August 19, 2015. The 3 Israeli's moved out at the end of August 2015 and payed rent for that month. I do not have a written release from the landlord but do have, in writing, permission from the Management Company that they would allow me to break the lease if we all moved out of the unit at the same time. This didn't happen because, as I said earlier, the LL verbally said it'd be fine to give my room over.

4.) The SSN may be inaccurate then. I was told by my Israeli friend that he was able to shake off the blacklisting because he didn't have a social at the time. So it was difficult for them to associate the record to his identity. I, on the other hand, was the only United States citizen living there. My Israeli friend seems to think that this was important in the LL's decision to oust everyone after I left. I wouldn't know why that'd be the case. But it appears they DID file that eviction proceeding (though I haven't checked with the Civil Courts) even though I was not in possession of the apartment. I was living out of state.

5.) The background checking software used was called Tenant Safe: http://www.tenantsafe.com/

Also, note: the LL and the Management Company were Hasidic. The Tenant Safe software company is based in Lakewood, NJ, a highly Orthodox Jewish community. Not to be conspiratorial but, is it possible that software is only used in Orthodox business communities?
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Re: Eviction proceeding filed after I moved out

Postby TenantNet » Tue Nov 07, 2017 1:23 pm

OK, more problems.

You, with the others, collectively became the prime tenants. Look in the lease for language "joint and several" which means is one tenant defaults/disappears, then the LL can come after the remaining tenant(s) for the entire rent for the entire apartment.

So you signed a contract to be responsible for a chunk of cash with someone you don't know. Not too smart.

The LL should not be billing rooms separately, and I don't know if that amounts to his actually renting rooms separately. That might have been a defense worth pursuing, but it also appears the case is over. And I don't know if that undermines the responsibility for the entire amount of rent.

So you signed 4/1/15, one year, ending 3/31/16. You moved on 7/30/15, meaning there was still 8 months on the lease. Were the others who were left not able to pay the entire rent? Anyone new that came in were not likely brought in as prime tenants, but as roommates. They have no responsibility to the landlord, only to who brought them in. That you left early really would not waive your responsibility for the rent of the rent.

What was the basis of the eviction, a non-pay, or a holdover? If you know. Depending on the nature of that court case, the LL might have gotten a judgment for any unpaid rent up until that time, but if it was a default, then it probably would not have gone for the remaining 7 months. Depends on how much rent was outstanding at the time. You imply the other tenants had paid for August, so they might not have been in default of the rent as of 8/19/15. You would need to go to the court and dig up the judgment and case file to find out all the details. You should do that no matter what.

As for the written release from the lease, that might be worth something depending on the details of the case and what it says. It also might establish that the LL was renting rooms separately and that you should not be responsible for the entire rent of the whole place.

But the problem is it appears there has already been a case and decision.

I don't think lack of a SS number can get you on or off the blacklist. Many lease applications ask for your SSN, so the LL might have it.

So I would first go to the court and dig up the case file and make copies of everything, and especially the outer manila file folder as judges often write thing on the folders. If the xerox in the court is broken, then take photos of every page. Take 3-4 photos of every page as shots get out of focus. Look for a phone app called CamScanner, but regular camera app also works. Save as .jpg or better .pdf.

I would focus less on the landlord's ethnicity, as that really doesn't matter one way or the other. Focus on the facts of the case.

As for the blacklist, once you get the file, please let us see it. You can attach the PDF to a private message (use the PM button), not the public area of the forum.

Then for the blacklist, we would recommend you speak with tenant attorney Jamie Fishman, see http://www.nyctenantslaw.com/ (and he advertises here) He is considered the best tenant attorney on blacklist issues. Others might be OK, but he has concentrated on the blacklist. Given what you've said here, I don't know if there is much to be done, but get the court file and go from there.
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Re: Eviction proceeding filed after I moved out

Postby living_in_duhmerica » Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:02 pm

Thanks so much for spelling it out. On the Tenant Alert, under "Judgement Information:" it specifically says $2100 as the amount (which is one month's rent for the entire unit). And to my knowledge, once the landlord knew that I was gone, he refused to accept their money. They were paying cash up until that point. Only after they moved out was the money sorted. I know that for a fact because the Israeli guy on the least works with the LL as a real estate agent from time to time. So, from what I'm gathering, that means it could've been an eviction for the amount owed, one months rent, would be the best case scenario? I'll head to the court Monday and see what I can glean. Thanks again!
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Re: Eviction proceeding filed after I moved out

Postby TenantNet » Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:14 pm

One other thing, see info on the blacklist in the Reference section of the forum, including info from Fishman. Not up-to-date, but has some good info.
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Re: Eviction proceeding filed after I moved out

Postby living_in_duhmerica » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:06 pm

Just sent you the PDFs of the case file. Apparently the eviction was accepted by a "John Doe". A few of the requests for warrant even list the wrong address. Not totally certain what it all means. It doesn't look final to me. Thanks so much for the advice!
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