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

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Postby Cazmia » Mon Dec 10, 2018 5:05 pm

This is very disturbing and I need advice. The landlord is aware that one of our tenants is out of town. He knows this, because the tenant is having his lawyers appear for him in a housing court case the owner currently has against him. His employment takes him out of town continually.

Today, someone came on behalf of the landlord threatening to break into the tenant's apartment for a boiler "emergency". The installation person refers to this "emergency" as a small leak that they can, in theory, fix from outside the tenant's apartment.

The owner's representative said he wants it done from INSIDE his apartment and he will break in if he needs to, claiming emergency. He also said he believes the tenant is using his home as a storage unit. So, it would appear his true intentions are to break in and attempt to "sabotage" this person's tenancy.

I have never been witness to this sort of in-your-face harassment and the tenant is in another state, stressed out and looking for advice. Anything would be helpful.
Thank you.
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Re: Harassment

Postby TenantNet » Mon Dec 10, 2018 6:13 pm

It could indeed be a form of harassment. But the nature of the leak, whether or not it is a real emergency and where it can be fixed ... all that depends on the details. Also, there's a difference if it's a water, steam or gas leak. If nothing serious, the LL should make an appointment with the tenant - at the tenant's convenience. Of course the LL will say it's serious even if not.

Does the tenant have a neighbor (you?) watching the place? Does the LL have keys to the unit? Normally it's better if the LL does not have keys, but the downside comes when there are real emergencies and they are forced to break in.

Often, it's the LL's discretion where and how a repair is made, unless it's obviously improper. Would the tenant have access to an engineer or architect?

Years ago my LL tried the same thing. They appeared unannounced at 7 AM claiming there was an emergency. This was three days after the leak supposedly started (so where was the emergency?). They brought in"plumbers" who wanted to break open the bathroom wall six feet above the place where they said there was a leak. And of course, the pipes, wall and floor were all bone dry. I told them to go away and make an appointment. They never did.

As to whether the LL can break in, well that's debatable. Is there an actual leak? If so, how much?

The tenant's attorney should send the LL a strongly-written letter threatening legal action, i.e., trespass and other things, if the LL illegally enters.

The LL has an option to seek discovery for the issue of storage. And of course, storage is not illegal. If he's claiming non-primary residence, he can seek discovery, or better file a non-primary case and proceed with that.

Has the tenant's attorney offered his/her advice?
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Re: Harassment

Postby Cazmia » Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:10 pm

Thank you, your advice always offers some relief. The owner does not have the keys. As the Tenant's Association President and a friend of this tenant I am happy to oblige as his job takes him out of town on and off.

The landlord seems to be using another tenant who spies and speaks against the other tenants, even though what he says are lies. I consider this truly low, because I also fought to save this tenant's apartment, only to have him turn around and ally himself with the landlord to serve his own twisted agenda.

One of the Tenant's is a carpenter and says it is not an emergency, and he knows where the leak is and it is not necessary to go into a tenant's apartment.

Since we went months without heat, I do not consider this an emergency.
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Re: Harassment

Postby Cazmia » Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:26 pm

And yes, the tenant's place is perfectly dry. I wondered myself about what could be such a problem, even if he were storing his stuff ...it is his home, after all.

Actually, I think he was implying that the tenant had moved and I was using it to store stuff. Such a ridiculous theory makes me think the man is psycho.

Nevertheless, can another tenant just make up stories like that, which the landlord would happily entertain (maybe even pay that tenant off?) just so he could antagonize this tenant out of his apartment?

To date, we have been in court over 5 years fighting for rent stabilization and related issues. There must be a point at which the harassment ceases.

You really have to have the heart of a warrior to live in this city.
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