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No lease document sent to me but rent has increased

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No lease document sent to me but rent has increased

Postby NYC_GUY » Wed Aug 26, 2020 5:05 pm

Hi,

My leased expired June 1, 2020, in non-rent control building, my building management company never sent me a lease renewal or raised the rent in June. I was under the assumption that due to the pandemic, they empathized with the tenants and opted not to raise the rent for a period of time, so I did not reach out to them about the lease renewal. For the past three years, they have increased the rent by 10 percent every year.

Fast forward today I log in to the building management portal to request a repair of my sink, and I noticed my next rent due for September 1 went from $1,950 to $2,050. I was shocked because I did not sign the lease saying that I would pay the increase.
I called the management office right away, and one of the property managers stated that they sent out the renewal to me. This statement is a complete lie because I was steadily watching the mailbox in March, April, May, and June, and no lease renewal came.
I proceeded to ask why is my rent is being raised in a pandemic, and the property manager replied, "the last time I checked this building is not rent-controlled, we can raise the rent to whatever we want".

I was doing my best to save up to buy a house next year until COVID hit, and now my yearly income has been reduced by 14k by cost cutting. I don't want to go through the hassle of moving to another apartment amidst this pandemic. However, my management company's illegal tactics, rudeness, and dishonestly are not sitting well with me.

What are my legal options?
NYC_GUY
 
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Re: No lease document sent to me but rent has increased

Postby TenantNet » Wed Aug 26, 2020 6:50 pm

Just for clarification, there is no such thing as a RC or RS building. There are apartments within buildings that may be RC, RS or not.

I gather that you are saying that your apartment is not regulated. (however, with all apartments, if not a new building, you should investigate if the unit should be rent regulated starting by getting a DHCR apartment history. Even if you can't prove it, just filing a claim with DHCR can be used as leverage.)

So your old lease expired (was it May 31? or June 1?). In such a case for unregulated apartments, if the landlord accepts rent, then you become month-to-month, sort of a one-month lease that continually gets renewed, based on the terms and rents of the expiring lease. The LL can terminate this M2M lease with 30 days notice in writing.

OTOH, the LL, if they do not accept rent, can bring a holdover proceeding in housing court against a tenant for "holding over past lease expiration." During COVID-19, the courts aren't really operating yet and there's a huge backlog.

I'm assuming the LL accepted your rent (at the old rate) for June, July and August. If you are M2M, and I'm assuming you are, the LL can increase the rent, but they must give you notice as this would essentially be a new lease with different rents. Without researching the actual law on this, any such change must be on 30 days' notice and in writing. So if they send you a letter to that effect today, then your rent would go up on October 1st. Yes, they can raise it, but only with a notice. And it would be stupid on their part.

They say they sent you a renewal offer (I agree, it's probably a lie), ask them for proof of mailing, either certified mail or certificate of mailing. And if they did, and if you didn't respond, why didn't they follow up? Why did they accept rent for the last three months? Why didn't they give you a notice of termination, that would lead to a holdover?

First, get everything from them in writing, if possible. If not a letter, get them to state their story in email. You want documentation of their story (so when they change it, you can play gotcha).

I would not pay the increase now (stop any auto-pays you have set up). Start by trying to reason and negotiate with them, but start collecting your evidence in case things go south. Get a DHCR rent history - see https://nsacasa.files.wordpress.com/201 ... r-eng1.pdf or you can FOIL it from DHCR. If warranted, you can file a complaint and the LL will have to defend themselves. This is for older buildings. See if they have a 421(a) or J-51 tax abatement. https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documen ... T%2041.pdf

All this is for leverage.

We can't say the LL won't try to evict you; they might, and we can't say what your chances are. But the courts are backlogged so an actual eviction, we think, would be far in the future.
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Re: No lease document sent to me but rent has increased

Postby NYC_GUY » Thu Aug 27, 2020 1:17 am

Just for clarification, there is no such thing as a RC or RS building. There are apartments within buildings that may be RC, RS or not.
Thanks for the insight on this.

I gather that you are saying that your apartment is not regulated. (however, with all apartments, if not a new building, you should investigate if the unit should be rent-regulated starting by getting a DHCR apartment history. Even if you can't prove it, just filing a claim with DHCR can be used as leverage.)

I moved into the unit in 2015, and the tax abatement on the building expired in 2016.

So your old lease expired (was it May 31? or June 1?). In such a case for unregulated apartments, if the landlord accepts rent, then you become month-to-month, sort of a one-month lease that continually gets renewed, based on the terms and rents of the expiring lease. The LL can terminate this M2M lease with 30 days notice in writing.

I moved into the unit June 1, so May 31.

OTOH, the LL, if they do not accept rent, can bring a holdover proceeding in housing court against a tenant for "holding over past lease expiration." During COVID-19, the courts aren't really operating yet and there's a huge backlog.

I'm assuming the LL accepted your rent (at the old rate) for June, July and August. If you are M2M, and I'm assuming you are, the LL can increase the rent, but they must give you notice as this would essentially be a new lease with different rents. Without researching the actual law on this, any such change must be on 30 days' notice and in writing. So if they send you a letter to that effect today, then your rent would go up on October 1. Yes, they can raise it, but only with a notice. And it would be stupid on their part.
Yes, they accepted the old rent amount for the past months.

They say they sent you a renewal offer (I agree, it's probably a lie), ask them for proof of mailing, either certified mail or certificate of mailing. And if they did, and if you didn't respond, why didn't they follow up? Why did they accept rent for the last three months? Why didn't they give you a notice of termination, that would lead to a holdover? Great information you provided above, thank you. I will ask them for proof. Last year the management office sent me my lease agreement two weeks before June 1. I asked one of the property managers why it took so long and why I did not get the lease renewal sooner (30 days), I was told "we don't have to send anything within 90 or 30 days, we are not RS" Yes, they use this RS status as their crutch. I figure they delayed sending the lease renewal promptly to put my back against the wall to sign right away.



First, get everything from them in writing, if possible. If not a letter, get them to state their story in email. You want documentation of their story (so when they change it, you can play gotcha).

I would not pay the increase now (stop any auto-pays you have set up). Start by trying to reason and negotiate with them, but start collecting your evidence in case things go south. Get a DHCR rent history - see https://nsacasa.files.wordpress.com/201 ... r-eng1.pdf or you can FOIL it from DHCR. If warranted, you can file a complaint and the LL will have to defend themselves. This is for older buildings. See if they have a 421(a) or J-51 tax abatement. https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documen ... T%2041.pdf
I will not pay the increase. For the first time, since moving into the unit, I plan to protest the rent increase. I will communicate everything with LL in writing in the future, and hopefully, they will respond. They are good at ignoring emails and calls.


This management company does not believe in negotiating, I tried to negotiate my lease increase down in writing last year and it was completely ignored. They have a take it or leave attitude.

All this is for leverage.

We can't say the LL won't try to evict you; they might, and we can't say what your chances are. But the courts are backlogged so an actual eviction, we think, would be far in the future.
While I plan to go to bat with them, my concerns are the possibility of them dinging my credit, which I have been pretty responsible for keeping a great credit score. This especially paramount since I want to buy a home soon.

I really want to thank you for the wealth of information you have provided thus far.
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Re: No lease document sent to me but rent has increased

Postby TenantNet » Thu Aug 27, 2020 1:37 am

For sake of form, when on a forum, please quote the previous message, in whole or in part. As it is now, I can't tell when my original text stopped and yours began.

And no need to quote long passages. Quoting is to establish context only. I can read my original post.

Tax abatement -- which one, 421a or J51? In some cases units should remain RS even after the expiration of an abatement.

So if they accepted rent, I would say you're M2M. I would look at the documents here:
http://www.tenant.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=13981

as they apply to M2M tenants. See page 39 of the first Lebovits document (page 8 of the file) under Changes to the Real Property Law (RPL), or search for "Month" - where it says LLs must notify tenants if the rent will be increased by 5% or more, and it could require 90 days' notice. Notice must also be with NYS RPAPL 735 service (google that -- process server plus certified mail if service was not handed to you personally).

But don't tell LL this. Let them make the mistake so you can buy the full 90 days.

So if LL serves you with a notice of termination (or rent increase) by August 31, then it should not take effect until Dec. 1.

Also just google "month-to-month tenants NYS" to see details on all that.

And BTW, find a different source to corroborate what I've told you, just to be safe.
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Re: No lease document sent to me but rent has increased

Postby TenantNet » Thu Aug 27, 2020 1:45 am

Just saw you changed your comments to red (after my reply). So my reply does not take all that into account.

What you describe sounds just like my LL. By any chance does your LLs corporate name start with "B"?
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Re: No lease document sent to me but rent has increased

Postby NYC_GUY » Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:26 pm

Man, thank you so much for all this information.

When I signed the first lease, the management company also had me sign a rider and explained that the building's tax abatement would end in 2016. If I understand you clearly once you sign a rider, that means RS on the unit ends once the abatement ends??

I will take a look at my original lease again.

So any increases over 5 percent require 90 days. Good to know. Last year I was told by the property manager 90 days notifications are specific to RS only. She followed up by saying, 'Technically, we are not obligated to any window of time to notify you since you are not RS.

The building is quiet, and the location is excellent for commuters, with the train station being a short 10-minute walk. However, the property managers are horrible bullies who lie and will cheat you any chance they get. They have a culture of if you speak up or complain about a lack of services, you are a problem tenant. They fear monger the other tenants, so most don't know their rights and will not speak up.

My LL corporate name starts with a L.

It sucks that many people such as myself don't take the time to educate themselves about their rights as tenants, so we just shut up and pay....

I have 5 year old that I work hard for and last thing I want him to see is unwarranted notifications on my door or worse.


Thanks again, I really appreciate the feedback.
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Re: No lease document sent to me but rent has increased

Postby TenantNet » Thu Aug 27, 2020 1:26 pm

I don't think your signing a rider changes anything. LLs do that to discourage tenants and make them think there's nothing they can do. I'm not saying in this case there is something, but you should at least look into it. You still haven't said it's it's a 421(a) or J-51 abatement. They are different animals. Find out when the building was constructed, what kind of abatement was sought and granted, when it expires and from that point you can research the fate of any RS units. To start, Google "stuytown J51" Here's one article, of many, that describes what this is all about: https://ny.curbed.com/2017/11/29/167144 ... 1-lawsuits

90 days, well that's my reading. The Lebovits documents are used by many, but I would get a second opinion. We are not attorneys and we do not practice in court. It's also possible (on anything) that subsequent court cases could alter or invalidate legislation. His document was written shortly after the rent laws were changed in June 2019, and there have been a few significant changes on court challenges.

NEVER EVER believe anything from a property manager. Their purpose is to lie. They don't know how to tell the truth (or even admit they don't know).

When you see references to RPL and RPAPL, those are not RS laws; those usually apply to all units, not just RS/RC, unless specified.
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Re: No lease document sent to me but rent has increased

Postby NYC_GUY » Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:30 pm

STORIES
4
YEAR BUILT
2000
# UNITS
23
I will find my original lease to see if it's states 421(a) or J-51 abatement on it
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Re: No lease document sent to me but rent has increased

Postby TenantNet » Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:37 pm

The lease might not say anything about any tax abatements. If built post 1974, then it normally would not be RS unless there's an abatement at work. Some abatements are administered by DHCR; others by HPD. It's often hard to track it down. I would start at Dept. of Finance, also HPD, DHCR. Check the ACRIS database (Dept. of Finance) and look for any regulatory agreement. Also your local community board might have the info.

If you got the unit via a lottery, that's a tell-tale sign, usually of regular 80/20 or 421(a).
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