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Rent Abatement Granted, but...

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Rent Abatement Granted, but...

Postby AdvocateUUWS » Wed Feb 16, 2022 4:46 am

Got my management co. to agree to a rent abatement after much back and forth (was able to avoid court).

BUT! B/C of "accounting procedures" (and I've confirmed this w/an accountant friend), they need to credit my rent each month rather than write a check. Problem is I'm looking to move!

The question: If I break my lease early, are they required to pay me the rest of the abatement money in a check? Or do I lose out on the rest of that money?

It's 3.5 months of rent (the abatement), but w/construction RIGHT out my window (a new building), drag racing, coke dealers moving in, blasting car music, etc. i NEED to get out of here asap. (And, yes, they'll let me break my lease early.)

Please let me know if I'd be forfeiting the money if I leave. Thank you!
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Re: Rent Abatement Granted, but...

Postby TenantNet » Wed Feb 16, 2022 12:03 pm

You don't say if you're rent stab. Nor do you indicate why there is an abatement. Was it a RS overcharge, a lack of services, damages to something?

If a RS overcharge, DHCR gives you options. See this: https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documen ... 9-2020.pdf

... where collecting an overcharge award allows the tenant to either a) offset the deduction at a rate up to 20% per month, or b) file a judgment with a court. The procedure to file a judgment can be complicated and cumbersome.

But both of those methods assume the tenant is current with the rent, so there is something to offset. If a tenant had withheld the rent, then the tenant might owe something to the LL (and there might be an abatement awarded by Housing Court when the LL files a non-pay proceeding).

In my experience, in court, if a tenant had withheld $1,000 and the abatement is for $400, then the tenant would just pay the remaining $600 back to the LL. This ignores the DHCR methods. When this is done, it's always wise to send a nice cover letter to the LL (by certified mail) outlining the exact nature of the payment, how an why any money still claimed by the landlord is being offset. Make it very clear and unambiguous. Some LLs don't seem to understand basic English (and I don't mean those who might use English as a second language).

You would not see this with DHCR, which does not adjudicate amounts owed to the LL; they only look at overcharges.

So you have an agreement, but did it address how the abatement would be taken? Is it in writing? Did you have an attorney represent you for the negotiations? If your agreement (even if in writing) is just a handshake deal and not issued by DHCR, you can't use the court method.

If you are not RS and just want to leave ASAP, and there's no court decision, you're in a situation where you want to break your lease early. That complicates things. As you probably know, tenants breaking their lease might owe rent for the rest of the lease term depending on whether the LL seeks to mitigate its loss (and how meaningful that is).

But if they owe you money, then arguably they've not yet had a loss. That depends how much is still owed to you and if it covers one or more months. They could just apply the money they already have to the remaining months. Obviously that is what you fear.

Or you could pay the rent and seek to enforce the agreement. In my view and experience, that would be a bad decision on your part.

I would deduct what is left (of the money they owe you) from the full amount (of the rent) to the extent you can. Now, the LL might get upset, but you're just seeking to recover what is owed to you. It might also depend on how the agreement is written, if you were represented by an attorney, if you knew you were planning to move during the negotiations (I wouldn't admit to that) and if the agreement was "so ordered" by a judge.

My view is on practicality, not anything legal. The LL would likely get out of sorts and even make threats. Butg you hbave this agreement, even if only a handshake, and you seek to recover what is arguably yours. The LL would likely counter that you owe rent for the rest of the term and the agreement was made in good faith assuming you would finish the lease.

But all that only is considered if you are in court. Who knows, the LL might not come after you. He will say the problems forcing you to leave are not of his making.

In any case, keep a log of all the problems, even if not caused by the LL.

If you agree to the LL's "accounting procedures," you're just doing then a favor. I'm not aware of any law that says you have to do things their way (even if the agreement says so).
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Re: Rent Abatement Granted, but...

Postby AdvocateUUWS » Wed Feb 16, 2022 2:02 pm

Wow, thank you for that amazingly detailed reply.

Because I'm settling out of court, I was not aware all the info you asked for is needed.

Yes, an RS. apt. Yes, a lack of services. (At different times: elevator, nonworking intercom, heat, & more). I have not withheld rent and am up-to-date.

Other neighbors w/held rent for solely one of these issues, and received a $2,200 rent abatement. I threatened to withhold (haven't yet), and told them I'm including ALL of the issues. I told them the amount it comes to (upwards of $6k) but said I'm happy to discuss. They first offered $3,500, and I said that's no good, so they came up to an amount I'm very happy with.

As you imply, going to court is often cumbersome, and I'm trying to avoid it.(I really have better things to do, as do we all, right?).

They are not taking out 20%/mo. They are crediting me the FULL amount immediately, which means the next 3+ mos are essentially free. That's why I'm wondering what happens to the remainder if I move out. I really just want that 1 question answered.

I hope that's all helpful. And thank you again!
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Re: Rent Abatement Granted, but...

Postby TenantNet » Wed Feb 16, 2022 11:59 pm

You didn't post in the RS section, hence the confusion. Lack of services. That's not an overcharge. If you filed with DHCR and they sided with you, then they would lower and freeze the rent by one RGB percentage increase, until such time as the LL makes corrections and files to lift the freeze.

But it's not an abatement or award that you might get with an overcharge, so there is no 20% to collect, or no judgment to file in court. There might be retroactive decrease on rent back to when you made the complaint.

So your agreement seems to have no parallel if you had gone to DHCR or to the courts.

The is one other way of looking at it. If you had withheld rent and the LL took you to court on a non-pay, you could use the service decrease to seek an abatement ... but it might depend on the nature of the service decrease. Some judges tell tenants to take it to DHCR. If you were awarded an abatement, then that can be taken off rent that is outstanding or future rent, and maybe even sought if you move out.

But that's not the case here either.

Is your agreement all signed and official? I would check with an attorney first, but you could renege on the agreement, withhold the rent and come to another agreement that is approved by the court. Keep in mind that your current agreement will play a part in this and the LL will scream and holler claiming (probably true) that you're changing things only because you want to break the lease. Again, check with a lawyer to see if this is a viable method to proceed.

A lot will depend on how savvy the LL is, and if they have smart lawyers.

You haven't given us a breakdown (but don't do so on a public forum), but if you anticipate a remainder due to you after move out, then that's hard to say. If I were in their position, I would say you got the credit and now are leaving them in a lurch by breaking the lease, so the remainder would be applied to the remaining months of the lease, whether you have left or not.

Another thing you should consider, as you probably know, RS units at decent prices are hard to find. Why not reconsider your decision to move (unless you're moving to North Dakota)? I know first hand the noise that comes with construction. I know drug dealers are a huge problem, but I have a feeling things are not as bad as the Summer of Crack (1988). We organized our block and drove the dealers out. Drag racing and car music, yes that's a problem as well. I don't know if you're a long time resident or not, but if not, then welcome to NYC ... it goes with the territory.

BTW, you don't say where on the UWS you are, but Gale Brewer, the City Councilmember, is worthless. You'll have to organize and fight.
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Re: Rent Abatement Granted, but...

Postby AdvocateUUWS » Thu Feb 17, 2022 4:26 pm

TenantNet wrote:So your agreement seems to have no parallel if you had gone to DHCR or to the courts.

OK.

TenantNet wrote:The is one other way of looking at it. If you had withheld rent and the LL took you to court on a non-pay, you could use the service decrease to seek an abatement ...
...
But that's not the case here either.

Right. Gotcha.

TenantNet wrote:Is your agreement all signed and official? I would check with an attorney first, but you could renege on the agreement, withhold the rent and come to another agreement that is approved by the court. Keep in mind that your current agreement will play a part in this and the LL will scream and holler claiming (probably true) that you're changing things only because you want to break the lease. Again, check with a lawyer to see if this is a viable method to proceed.


I reached out to an acquaintance (who's a public defender) when I posted here -- never know who's going to have the info ya need. Essentially, i was hoping there might by some NYC/state law requiring LLs to pay out monies owed to tenants even if they move. But there's not.

Like you said, no court actually ruled in my case, so it's not officially an abatementg, and the, let's call it a "refund" they're offering does NOT include the other things I listed in my previous post.

And, no, I've not signed the agreement yet. What the lawyer said was this: Talk to them as if you're not planning on leaving; tell them something they understand, basically "I want to ensure there is NO ambiguity, so that you're protected and I'm protected b/c life happens." She said: "And explain, should something come up, and you need to break the lease, you just want in writing that the money will still be paid and that the NDA they want you to sign* will thus remain in tact as long as you get the rest of that money."

*Because I'm getting more of a "refund" (aka abatement), they don't want me telling other residents to avoid me inspiring potential court cases (of course, what they don't know is that I already have and was trying to get neighbors to withhold rent w/me FOR *all* of the issues and no one, not even the tenant assoc. in the building, would take part. So it's moot.)

TenantNet wrote:Another thing you should consider, as you probably know, RS units at decent prices are hard to find. Why not reconsider your decision to move (unless you're moving to North Dakota)? I know first hand the noise that comes with construction. I know drug dealers are a huge problem, but I have a feeling things are not as bad as the Summer of Crack (1988). We organized our block and drove the dealers out. Drag racing and car music, yes that's a problem as well. I don't know if you're a long time resident or not, but if not, then welcome to NYC ... it goes with the territory.
BTW, you don't say where on the UWS you are, but Gale Brewer, the City Councilmember, is worthless. You'll have to organize and fight.


Grew up outside NYC but been in Manhattan for 15+ years, in my current area for almost 9. If you look at my handle again, you'll see it's "UUWS" -- that's my jokey way of saying Upper-UPPER West Side (while continuing to be vague, I'll add that when I was in the west Bronx, I'd refer to THAT as "The Upper-Upper-UPPER West Side.")

Gale Brewer is not a dependable ally, not unless she feels it'll get press coverage. A couple of people in her office when she was Borough Prez were incredible tho'.

I would love to save on rent and stay, but I'm a creative-type who works from home, and the amount of noise and the numerous problems in the neighborhood -- which barely ebb and mostly flow -- plus the things I listed in the last post, it's really become untenable.

Thank you again for all of this. I do appreciate it!!
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Re: Rent Abatement Granted, but...

Postby TenantNet » Thu Feb 17, 2022 5:38 pm

If you live north of Gale's District, the new Council Member is Shaun Abreau, who says he was a tenant attorney, but given his support for bad development (that construction noise you hear of more glass towers going up) and his affiliation with Open NY (sort of a junior Real Estate Board for whining millennials), I have little faith in him.

Fifteen years in NYC? You're still a newbie. You need 30+ years.

When you say "creative type," that could be code for something you might not expect, the Mike Bloomberg sell-outs.
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Re: Rent Abatement Granted, but...

Postby AdvocateUUWS » Sun Feb 20, 2022 3:07 pm

TenantNet wrote:If you live north of Gale's District, the new Council Member is Shaun Abreau, who says he was a tenant attorney, but given his support for bad development (that construction noise you hear of more glass towers going up) and his affiliation with Open NY (sort of a junior Real Estate Board for whining millennials), I have little faith in him.

Well, it's more the fault of CB12, when I had asked the group of, what is it, 12? 20? people on the board that approves various projects if they'd ever even BEEN on my block; not a single one had ever been here -- heck, they weren't even sure where it was. So, yeah, the CB has approved a huge construction project AND a nearby "improvement" project that has made crossing Broadway on foot downright dangerous.

TenantNet wrote:Fifteen years in NYC? You're still a newbie. You need 30+ years.

I might've changed the number for anonymity. But it's still not 30. ;]

TenantNet wrote:When you say "creative type," that could be code for something you might not expect, the Mike Bloomberg sell-outs.

Heh. I'm not even sure I know what this means, but I'll tell you what: I was NO fan of Bloomberg, but when there were issues in the neighborhood -- from an increase in robberies to graffiti to a sudden lack of trash pickup and more -- and local politicians and police wouldn't lift a finger, it was people in his administration that reached out to the departments responsible for these things and ensured sh#@ got done.

P.S. The management co. is (theoretically) sending me the agreement for the abatement next week and they've agreed to include a rider to it saying it's AOK for me to break my lease -- AND if I do I'll get the remainder of the money via check.
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Re: Rent Abatement Granted, but...

Postby TenantNet » Sun Feb 20, 2022 4:31 pm

It means Bloomberg used to hold out retaining of "creative-types" as justification for bad development, in particular Hudson Yards.

Community Boards do not "approve" development. They issue advisory opinions, that are, in turn, used by politicians for political cover. The actual approvals come from City Planning and City Council.

Manhattan is huge north of 96th. If you're in the Heights, there's a lot going on up there and some pretty bad elected officials. We know people near Nagle and Ft. Washington.

Sounds like your issues with management are resolved. Good Luck.
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