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Got petition of non-payment today. Can anyone answer ASAP?

NYC Housing Court Practice/Procedures

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Got petition of non-payment today. Can anyone answer ASAP?

Postby JGT » Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:30 pm

Hi and thanks, sorry for the ASAP but I`m going straight down to court tomorrow so I was wondering if anyone can give me some advice before then.

To make it brief: I lost my job last year and eventually got behind 5 months in rent approx. $5500 bucks. I just got a job this month and told my landlord I could give him $700 a week, and I did, gave him $1400 these past 2 weeks so far but for some reason he is being an ayhole and gave me a 5 day notice last week, now today I found a Petition of non-payment on my door.

On this petition he is claiming I owe his $6500!! He didn`t even subtract what I already paid him, plus he added late fees PLUS $549 lawyer fees!

Tomorrow, what should I do? I`ve been living here 16 years the apt. is stabilized and he has two months security plus he has NEVER fixed anything in the entire time I`ve lived here. My records show I owe him about $3000 which I can pay him in a month. Is it possible I can get a stay or a postponement long enough to get caught up? I freaking out here because there is no way I have any place to go if the Marshall locks me out.
JGT
 
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:40 pm

If stabilized, then two months security is illegal. Add that to your counterclaim or defense.

Look at the Court section on the website. Chances are you will end up with a stip, but read the caveats on what to watch out for on stips (do not sign any stip that consents to a judgment). Do not accept atty fees. Only a judge can award atty fees, and not pursuant to a stip.

Your defense is that rent is partially paid and that the LL agreed to a payment plan. Ask for an abatement for failure to fix bad conditions and ask for an inspection. Make a list of what needs repaired.

The defense you put in -- in a practical sense -- is a formality. But you need to put it in. Most cases are negotiated.

You can't ignore this, but you are a ways away from facing the Marshall. You have a few days to put in your answer, so bone up on Housing Court before going down.
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Postby JGT » Tue Aug 24, 2010 8:06 pm

Thank you SO SO MUCH for answering!! You are a godsend, seriously! My nerves are so frayed from all this I`ve been getting sick, I can`t eat or sleep. My mother just went in the hospital for a heart attack over the weekend and it`s been a nightmare, now this BS happens, I feel like I`m going to explode. Yes, my place is rent stabilized, I moved in in 1994 and ever since then he`s been raising it 2% or whatever it is now with every lease renewal.

I had no idea 2 months security is illegal in stabilized apts. With every lease renewal besides making me pay the increased rent, he also makes me pay that extra raised amount for the two months security. For example if the rent is $1000 and he raises it to $1050 with the lease renewal he also makes me pay that extra $50 for each month security as well, $100 total to raise my 2 months security to current rent price.

About the payment plan you mentioned, my LL never agreed to a payment plan other than verbal which was 2 months ago. What he did is send me a letter in June stating I owed him $3500 and I informed him I was very close to getting a job, and he verbally agreed that I pay him every week once I do.

Then at the beginning of August I sent him a letter and left a message on his voice mail saying I got a job and can pay him $700 a week which he never answered.

I then sent him $700 for two weeks, $1400 total, then he sent me a 5 day notice, now this Petition of non -payment which I found on my door today in which he states I own him $5500 plus late fees plus lawyer fees to bring the total to $6500 which is insane!

Also this guy NEVER ever fixes anything in this buiding! To flush my toilet for example, I have to fill a bucket from the bathtub and pour it in the toilet. I assume I should take pictures but I don`t have a camera.

Do you think I should spend a few days studying the law/procedure like you said before I go down there? I was going to go down first thing tomorrow but now I`m not so sure as I am completely naive about all this. Again thank you SO much for answering!
JGT
 
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:05 pm

On deposits see http://tenant.net/Rights/CTRC/ctrcf006.html

You can counterclaim for treble damages. If he has $2,000 (2 x 1,000 if one month rent = 1,000), then that's an overcharge of 1,000 and you can counterclaim for 3,000.

Of course getting it is another story, but put it in your answer as a counterclaim. The $3,000 should offset any amount you still owe or seriously lessen it ... and give you a leg up in negotiating. But you have to make the claim of overcharge. The judge or court attorney may tell you to take it to DHCR, but Housing Court has jurisdiction over such overcharges.

He agreed verbally ... he agreed. Make up a chronology of what happened and document everything from now on.

Late fees might be legal, but research this on the forum. Depends on your lease and what percentage is used. Nevertheless, I would not agree to late fees in any negotiation. If you can make all payments within a month, even the worse housing court judges will not toss you.

DO NOT PAY LEGAL FEES unless ordered by a judge, and do not agree to any stipulation that consents to legal fees or to a judgment. (make sure the word "judgment" does not appear in any stip).

Yes, bone up on procedures. The Housing Court clerks can get a bit anti-tenant at times. The petition you received should give you the deadline for putting in an answer and a date for the first court appearance (the first appearance is usually adjourned).
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Postby JGT » Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:56 pm

OK thanks SO MUCH! I`ve been reading everything you said since you last anwered me. Yes, I don`t think I`m going down there tomorrow. I haven`t slept in 2 days and I want to know everything before I do. Just want to say thanks so much, you are an absolute ray of light in this nightmare.
JGT
 
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Postby JGT » Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:17 am

Hi again, got a few hours sleep now I`m back to studying. Hope you can still answer.....

I was just noticing the date on this petition is 8/16/10 and I got it only yesterday 8/24/10......It says I have 5 days to repond once I get served, but is it possible they can say I was served on 8/16/10?

I never saw any process server, I came home from work yesterday and found it stuck in my door.

The reason I ask is because a few months ago a neighbor of mine was having the same trouble and next thing I know the Marshal came and changed his locks, locked him out, took possesion and I haven`t seen him since. And I don`t know if he was ever served with court papers or what. He just told me one day he was far behind in rent and next thing I know his place is locked up and he`s gone.

I`m just wondering if the LL can be underhanded like that; Put a date 10 days before the tenant is actually served then claim "oh look it`s 10 days later and he never responded" and the Judge grants posession because the tenant defaulted, never answered. Thanks
JGT
 
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Postby JGT » Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:29 pm

I just came back from court on Suphtin blvd in Jamaica, and I had a REAL hard time with the clerk. It was just unreal. I went down and told him I was hear to answer the summons for petition of non payment and he hands me a court date for Sept. 2nd and then he walked away! I thought he was going to ask me questions why the rent wasn`t paid, but he just wrote real fast then took off!

So I looked at the receipt, nothing is written about my reply to this summons, so I tell another clerk in the hallway that I wanted to put down my reply to the summons, such as rent partially paid, apartment never fixed, harrassment, overcharge, illegal security, no interest paid on security, a ton of stuff and she tells me "Oh it`s too late now, he already done it"

So I started flipping out until finally one clerk agreed to see me again, and thank god he did, he re-did it. and wrote down all the things I said above. I also asked that if an inspector could come to my place and he told me the judge will grant that. Is that true?

How important was it that I got that info on that? It`s incredible to me how non-caring this first clerk was. I am utterly broke right now and I`m trying to get legal aid because if it is going to be like this, I feel I`m going to get creamed in court. Should I do this?

All I want to get out of this is a stipulation where I can pay him off and not get evicted . I figure I owe $3500 including Sept rent which I can definately pay off in one month, but my LL has tacked on all these other ridiculous charges like late fees, lawyer fees to raise that amount to $2000 more.

What are my chances if I rep myself? Thanks.
JGT
 
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Postby ronin » Fri Aug 27, 2010 1:53 am

Good work on not leaving until they took your full answer. The clerks in Housing Court are very, very bad. They are extremely pro landlord. I even seen one try to block an ATTORNEY's ANSWER!! No lie- senior clerk in the Bronx.

Getting them to put down your defenses is the most important thing, because the first thing the LL's lawyer says is "It's too late to modify the answer." The whole Housing Court is a blatant scam in the service of the LLs.

As for your question, the judge can order an inspection. This is a very important defense and the HPD sends out the inspectors according to the judge's order. If I remember correctly unrepaired violations stay the non-payment proceedings (but you have never seen repairs made so fast in your life).

How it goes proceeding without a lawyer depends mainly on the judge you get assigned.
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Postby JGT » Fri Aug 27, 2010 2:19 am

Hi Ronin thanks for answering, Jeez I always thought it was tough to get evicted from a rent stabilized apt, I remember hearing stories that it takes months, now I`m seeing a completely different picture. Yes it just blew my mind what a-holes these clerks were, I even told one (yelled at is more like it) "How hard is that job? All you have to do is fill out a one page form" Seriously, how hard is that? Just because that`s too hard for them I`m going to lose my place? Just unbelievable.

About the repairs, if you saw my place you would freak out, seriously. For starters I haven`t had a working toilet in over 5 years, I literally have to fill a bucket from the bathtub and pour it into the toilet to flush it. Then comes the shower. The shower doesn`t work, so all I can take is a bath.

When I asked the LL to fix it which took about 2 million requests, finally when he attempted to, he fixed a leak in the sink, got really pissed off, then told me the toilet couldn`t be fixed then left. That was 5 years ago.

And forget about painting the place. In the entire 16 years I`ve lived here not ONCE has he ever painted the place! He just a real grade A sonovabitch this guy.

But if someone moves out? OH then it`s a different story! In comes all the contracters, plumbers, painters, this and that to make that apt look brand spanking new for potential new tenants.

Oh yes, and every winter? Forget about the heat! People move out every year from this building because this SOB turns off the heat! One time a few years ago we went FOUR WEEKS with no heat! 20 degrees out and I could see my breath in my apt when I got home!

Anyway though, wow that really freaks me out about what you said about the housing courts being pro-LL. I always thought it was the other way around.

If I can just delay this court date/eviction just for 30 days I know without a doubt I`ll have all the rent paid but how can I do this? I thought it took months to evict but now it seems it takes a week or two.
JGT
 
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Postby JGT » Fri Aug 27, 2010 3:04 am

Wow this is getting really confusing here....Look at this exchange between LLs I found on this website. They are saying it takes months, one guy saying YEARS to evict! What is going on here? And this isn`t some thread from 10 years ago, this is from 2009.

http://www.city-data.com/forum/new-york ... enant.html

You know I do feel for these guys, but like everyone else in this economy money is tight. All I`m asking for is 30 days to pay it off.
JGT
 
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:23 am

Of course that's baloney. There are extremes on both ends, but most cases go relatively quickly. But remember, you are entitled to a defense and a trial. And yes, that can take some time. If it goes on years, it's usually because of LL hi-jinks. The claim of it taking many years is part of the invented narrative. The same people also claim that Housing Court is pro-tenant. You've just found out that is a lie.

The entire process is likely to last more than 30 days. And if you're confident you can get the balance -- at least the part that is really owed minus the deposit overpayment -- I really suspect you'll have a stipulation to that effect. Even the worst Housing Court judge will pressure the parties to negotiate a settlement. But remember, hold out for the extra deposit, the repairs and other things you might have discovered.

And once you get out of this mess, pay it forward.
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Postby ronin » Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:43 am

I took a look at that link and can point out some real red flags.

1. The tenants seem to all have lawyers. Finding a tenant with a lawyer is akin to finding this week's lotto jackpot winner sitting next to you on the train. Total crap.

2. The "pro-tenant" housing court was something that sorta kinda existed for a month or two back in the 80's (but some people around then deny it was pro-tenant even then). It wasn't around for a long while. That whole thread is something to scare LL's into buying into "tenant screening" and hiring a LL lawyer. It's like the movie "Reefer Madness" (But it is true that without a lawyer a LL can get screwed just like everyone else) In something like 99 out of 100 evictions the LL has a lawyer, and on the cheap (a low flat rate of $200 or so). LL lawyers lounge around HC like prostitutes ready to service a LL for a few hundred bucks. No tenant can get a lawyer that cheaply. Tenant lawyers (the few that exist) often want $1500- $3000 retainer. LL's even small LL's give repeat business in the same county, tenants do not.

3. If an eviction took 7-8 months it most likely involved some misdeed of the LL. So don't count on your "multi-unit building owner" being so uninformed as those alleged posters on that board.

4. Stick to tenant.net for real information. Don't count on info from boards that cater to LLs and advertise LL services for LL "needs". Evictions happen all the time- some people get the boot while on vacation for two weeks. And most of the judges are pro-LL, just look at their resumes!! The RE industry has to continually promote the idea of the Housing Court as a anti-LL place or more people would be outraged by the abuses tenants suffer there.
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Postby ronin » Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:45 am

Wow. I took so long on the prior post Tenant slipped a response in ahead of me. LOL!

I agree with everything he said. Especially the part about paying it forward.
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Postby JGT » Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:49 am

Ugh.. Well thanks for the info again. Now my stomach is knots again lol!

I`m pretty sure I can come up with an additional $700 by the court date, but I just pray they don`t ask for all or even half of what I owe right there otherwise I`m dead. I can`t believe they scheduled the court date in 7 days. I mean WTF is that? Any other court case they schedule months in advance.

I`m just hoping the repairs can buy me some time because I know without a doubt I can pay this all off by October, but I don`t know how much of a SOB my LL is going to be, I`ll really try to bust his butt back though.

Oh yes, and I saved ALL his threatening letters! Once he demanded I move out in 3 weeks because I complained about a neighbor making noise! He actually left a note on my door, 3 weeks before Christmas no less, demanding I evict by the end of Dec! He didn`t even bother bringing me to court. He`s nuts this guy.
JGT
 
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:08 pm

First, it's a "summary proceeding" and meant to be relatively speedy (compared with plenary court actions that drag on for years). That actually benefits you.

Second, the first appearance will likely be adjourned. You've already asked for an inspector as part of your answer, but you should also make an application - to get the inspection - when they call the case. That can push it back a few weeks maybe.

And even if you go to trial, which is unlikely, and even if the LL wins, the court give tenants additional time to come up with the money.

But your strategy is to get a stip (not consent to a final judgment) that gives you time, perhaps 30 days, to get current. You will seek an abatement for bad conditions and to take the extra deposit off the top. If they don't want to do that, you can seek treble damages.

Nothing is certain of course, but it appears you are in relatively good position. Do not let them railroad you.

What you saved is probably irrelevant here, but you can also file a harassment case, either with DHCR or the court. Tenants don't win harassment cases (because the courts and DHCR are corrupt), but you can make the LL squirm for a bit. Right now focus on getting past this. The other stuff would come if you need to do it (don't do it just to pay the LL back).

Now, take a deep breath and relax. This isn't the end of the world. Many of us have been through it and survived. Just learn how it works.
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