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2 questions (repairs and "buyouts")

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

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2 questions (repairs and "buyouts")

Postby nyctenant7 » Fri May 24, 2002 3:56 pm

I've been reading this board for awhile, and it's been really enlightening--thanks. I've lived in a rent-stabilized apartment in lower Manhattan for 4 years now, and I have two questions.

1. Approximately two months ago, my toilet, in layman's terms, "broke." It overflowed due to a broken valve (in the toilet installed by my LL, unaltered by me in any way) that prevented flushing and the water going back down. The overflow happened late one evening, and I had nearly a foot of water in my bathroom. I had tried, unsuccessfully, in the past to get the number for the maintenance people who work for my landlord, and my super was out of town. Because I was unable to reach anyone at my LL's office (I did leave a message, which went unanswered), I had to call an outside plumber who repaired my toilet for a substantially large rate.

I called my LL again, and was told to forward the bill to them, which I did. I have been following up several times a week, and I was told that the bill has been sent to their maintenance people for review several weeks ago. I've continued to follow up, but my messages go unanswered.

I've looked for provisions and cases on this, but am unable to find anything. Being that appears to be a situation that would have normally been covered by my LL under his duty to keep the premises in good repair, shouldn't I be entitled to receive a rent abatement? I'm pragmatic and am aware that maintenance people sometimes overcharge (especially single women in desperate situations) so I am not expecting to receive an abatement in the full amount of the bill, but I think there should be reimbursement to a reasonable extent.

What's the next step? My LL is sitting on this. Should I begin an HP proceeding? I have consistently paid timely rent during my tenancy, and I have continued to pay my rent in full after these repairs for fear of a holdover proceeding. Does anyone have advice or similar experience?

2. Several tenants in my building have been offered and accepted "buyouts" where the LL has offered them approximately $10,000 to move from their rent-stabilized apartments. One couple who was offered this buyout was only allowed to accept it on the condition that they not attend community board meetings and discuss their issues with the building with other tenants. I have a feeling that I may be approached for a buyout in the near future, and I'm curious if these conditions are proper on my LL's part, and if he's allowed to impose these.

Thanks again for any help!
nyctenant7
 
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Re: 2 questions (repairs and "buyouts")

Postby Cranky Tenant » Sat May 25, 2002 12:10 am

If your LL continues to ignore the toilet issue, you could always deduct the repairs from the rent. He could take you to court for "non payment" but if you can demonstrate he was informed of the problem, and failed to fix it in a timely matter, it becomes a non issue that's likely to cost him more than the repair.Most likely he'll accept your deduction and be done with it.

If you've only been in the apartment for four years, it's not likely the LL will offer you a substantial buy-out.$10,000 isn't a whole lot of money unless you plan on leaving the city or planned on buying a co-op anyway.

But, if you are interested in a buy-out you should consider the total cost of moving including broker's fees, moving, and everything else it will take to make your new place feel like home.
I'm a cranky tenant NOT a cranky lawyer.
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Re: 2 questions (repairs and "buyouts")

Postby Brooklyn Babe » Sat May 25, 2002 1:40 am

Since the you did not cause the condition, you should not be liable for the repair. I suggest you deduct the full bill from next months rent.
-Be sure to make a notation on the check i.e. $900.00 June rental pymt - $700.00 emergency repair = $200.00. As an extra caution, attach a short letter...
"Further to our conversations dated blah date, blah date, and blah date, please see attached emergency toilet repair bill and check for June rental payment..."
keep a copy of letter and check. Send your check via certificate of mailing (approx. $0.75)to LL.
-Call Verizon and ask them to send you a "deatiled call report/log" (takes about 2 weeks to arrive) it has a list of all the calls you made from your phone.
-Also, to go one step further, if possible get a letter (affadavit would be nice) from the plumber certifying the cause of the condition (faulty valve) and that it required emergency assistance.
The extra steps may prove unneccessary, but in case of future dispute or court action you will be very well prepared and not stressed if/when you're served with papers. I'm also thinking that if LL is trying to "buy out" tenants, he will look for any excuse he can to evict a tenant.
As for the "buy out" offers. It all depends on your situation. If you are unhappy and were thinking of moving anyways, go for it, although 10k doesn't cover much. The big question is: can you find a better place for the current rent you pay now? probably not.
I'm assuming a "buy out" deal is treated like any other contract, meaning whatever terms (i.e. non disclosure, non participation) are binding once both parties agree to it. Remember this is a mutual agreement, and you should be able to negotiate and modify the terms to your confort.

Best of Luck!!

PS- HP Actions are usually started by tenants who have existing unrepaired conditions in the apt. that the LL has refused or has dragged heels to fix.
The above information is from a non-attorney tenant activist and is not considered or to be used as legal advice.
Brooklyn Babe
 
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Re: 2 questions (repairs and "buyouts")

Postby Phil Cohen » Tue May 28, 2002 6:30 pm

Stop calling the nitwit. Send him a letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, describing your past phone conversations re reimbursement for the EMERGENCY--repeat, EMERGENCY -- toilet repairs. Describe the flooding in graphic detail. Send in your June rent without any deductions. No reimbursement of every penny you paid? Deduct the full amount from July rent.
Keep in mind that I am a tenant. Not a lawyer!!!!!
Phil Cohen
 
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