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Canceled checks for housing court

NYC Housing Court Practice/Procedures

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Canceled checks for housing court

Postby chilly » Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:19 pm

I in the process of preparing for my rent overcharge trial next month. I need to get bring all of the canceled checks possible but was wondering if there is a way to get around paying the $6/copy fee. Also, is there anything more specific that I need to request from the bank as documentation of checks that were paid to my landlord?
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Postby brookerlyne » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:20 am

If you have an online bank account, most banks show the canceled check and you're able to print from there. AFAIK, the only time you're charged for this is if you go to the bank and have them do it for you.
The canceled check(s) print out is fine, as long as it shows both sides of the check. No further certifying required as you are certifying since they are your checks.
The above isnt legal advice - just an opinion.
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Postby TenantNet » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:34 am

Well, if you're in an informal pre-trial conference or mediation, that might work, but if you go to trial, it might not be good enough. Some LL lawyers might demand certified copies of checks. It comes down to the judge. Some HC judges will likely allow uncertified copies; others might not.
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Postby brookerlyne » Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:02 pm

My experience only extends to Kings County Housing Crt, but uncertified copies are acceptable at trial - even upon an Atty's objection. I can not remember the specific loophole, but basically the Owner of the check and the account (Tenant) is able to certify the documents. This issue was raised at my last trial in January 2013, by LL Atty who objects to everything/anything.

ETA: Must double check, but I think it falls under "Best Evidence" rule
The above isnt legal advice - just an opinion.
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Postby TenantNet » Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:10 pm

The owner of the check (who wrote the check) can testify that they wrote the check and mailed it to the landlord. You can also testify that you received a statement from the bank showing the payment (and introduce the statement into evidence).

But certifying that a check has been cashed could be a higher step. Generally it would depend on the judge.

"Best Evidence" would require the original or reliable duplicate of the evidence itself, i.e., the original cancelled check or a photocopy of both sides.

From Wikipedia:

The best evidence rule has been codified in Rules 1001 to 1008 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.[4] These rules generally require the original or reliable duplicate of any "writing, recording, or photograph" when the content of that evidence is given legal significance by substantive law (such as a contracts or copyright dispute) or by the parties themselves (such as using a video recording of a bank robbery). The rule is only a general preference, as rules 1004 to 1007 permit exceptions when the original is unavailable, only of collateral importance, a public record, burdensome, or admitted by the other party in writing or deposition. Rule 1008 gives judges the power to determine whether evidence satisfies these rules and should be submitted to the jury, with the exception that evidence should always be submitted for jury review when an issue is raised whether: (a) the original ever existed, (b) the evidence offered is in fact the original, or (c) whether secondary evidence correctly reflects the contents of the original.
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Postby ronin » Tue Apr 02, 2013 12:53 am

The Federal Rules of Evidence do not apply in New York State Courts. In addition, the evidence statutes and court rulings are very different. Under New York case law there is a very good basis for allowing a tenant to certify that a check was cashed. Particularly if the LL is not affirmatively denying cashing it. The basic stand alone objection raised to harass the tenant/ witness, however, is very weak.

Of course, a LL could then certify that it was not cashed and show their account info. The reason they do not do this is that it would be resolved by subpoenas to both banks. The LL's never want tenants to have access to their bank account information- most especially if they perjured themselves in denying the check was cashed.
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Postby Cranky Tenant » Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:52 pm

Ten years ago my LL brought me to court claiming non-payment. At the time my bank only provided scans of the front side of the check and he insisted on seeing the back, showing the account where the money had been deposited. The judge allowed me to deduct the cost of providing these copies plus postage from my rent.
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No check image - just "Lockbox Deposit"

Postby NeoAmsterdam » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:08 pm

Hey, all. Long time, no posts :) until now :(...

My LL recently unilaterally raised the rent by 50% and I've also been going through my papers for old checks. I lost a lot of documents during super-storm/Hurricaine Sandy so I went to my bank and got statements going as far back as I could, but almost half of the the check images read "Lockbox Deposit".

Would the combination of the statements with these no-image check images be considered acceptable proofs of payment?
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:27 pm

Are you rent stab? If so, he can't raise the rent by 50%.

He also can't raise the rent until the current lease expires.

I have no idea what "lockbox deposit" means. Ask the bank and try to get the explanation in writing.

Statements could possibly be evidence in support of rent payments, but I don't know if it would be considered absolute proof. I think that would depend on the judge and perhaps caselaw.
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Postby NeoAmsterdam » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:41 pm

TenantNet wrote:Are you rent stab? If so, he can't raise the rent by 50%.
No only rent stabilized, but there's even a DHCR Order Reducing Rent dating back to 2008! I checked with DHCR at their Harlem office on Mar. 22 and they confirmed that the Order is still in effect.

TenantNet wrote:He also can't raise the rent until the current lease expires.
The lease expires in August. The three-day notice and the Notice of Petition show rents due only as far back as February 2013.

TenantNet wrote:I have no idea what "lockbox deposit" means. Ask the bank and try to get the explanation in writing.
It means that the LL's bank picks up the rent checks from a P.O. box and deposits them into the LL's account(s). I'll swing by my bank ASAP tomorrow morning to get an explanation in writing. (I hope thy open before housing court does...)

TenantNet wrote:Statements could possibly be evidence in support of rent payments, but I don't know if it would be considered absolute proof. I think that would depend on the judge and perhaps caselaw.
Hmm... Well, I wasn't getting any sleep anyway - time to do more research.
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:07 pm

This should probably have it's own thread, not commandeering someone else's issue.
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Postby brookerlyne » Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:58 am

If it's your 1st appearance on the crt calendar, you will probably be given more time to get your check images.
If my understanding of "lockbox deposit" is correct, then it is no different then someone writing/stamping "For Deposit Only" on the back of a check (checks do not have to be signed/endorsed to be deposited), which should have no bearing on being able to show that the check was cashed /honored. The back of the check image should ALSO have the computerized line that shows deposit date, acct # etc. < that is the important part. Any honored check would have this.
The above isnt legal advice - just an opinion.
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