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LL WANTS ME TO RELOCATE WITHOUT WRITTEN AGREEMENT

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

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LL WANTS ME TO RELOCATE WITHOUT WRITTEN AGREEMENT

Postby rsselden » Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:49 pm

I've been a rent-stabilized tenant for ~20 years in a small building (less than 30 units). Have my 4 yo son living with me. There were 5 or 6 lead paint violations issued by HPD in my apt (he disputed that lead paint was there even after my private inspector came, and an HPD inspector came) plus peeling paint and cracked wall violations. Over the past couple years, LL did several terrible "repairs" on walls/doors -- most recently dry sanding for several hours with my son present several feet away.

In the last month, he's had several contractors in my apt, did his own lead inspection, and annoyed me with visits about ridiculous things, taking many photos and having his 22 yo son tag along to record me with his iphone. Then he filed an extension with HPD saying "inability to find labor."

I phone him to ask what his plans were. He said he was waiting on estimates and was confident this could all be worked out. I could relocate to a vacant apartment downstairs.

A week and a half ago I told him I wanted some kind of relocation agreement, as he had proposed a tentative date of 01/14. He responded with two paragraphs via email which lacked rent details, specific work details, etc. The vacant apt is half the size of my current one so most of our stuff would have to go into storage while he cures the lead paint violations -- only he called it "the work" in his email, said I'd need to be out for 7 weeks (coincidentally quite close to when my lease term ends). He claims he is throwing in extras like electrical upgrades and cabinets although I never asked for these. He became very snotty when I told him my new loft beds would have disassembled/reassembled by a professional and they probably won't fit in the new place, and basically told me to hire some pros to disassemble/reassemble at my own expense. Also LL said that 80 feet of built in shelving (my only storage for books and clothing) will be torn out and not replaced. I asked about who he would have do the dust clearance testing afterwards and he said the same company who would do the abatement. I told him this was illegal, and also I need a relocation agreement. He basically told me to stuff it. This took place in email.

I hired a (very high-priced!) attorney thinking she could call his attorney and get me a relocation agreement similar to one you mentioned in one of your posts, so that he doesn't try shenanigans which I believe is likely. But my attorney was basically cowed by his attorney and said his refused to give me any kind of assurances about returning to my apt, or rent terms/raises, etc. Furthermore, she says that I have no right to refuse him access on the basis of no relocation agreement. And now his attorney is writing insinuating emails about me keeping a four year old in an apartment with a hazardous condition and that I am "refusing to walk away from my lease." (Damn right!)

LL wants me to begin moving tomorrow. Can I put my foot down and refuse to relocate? Run to the courthouse and file an HPD action (which high-priced attorney had talked me out of last week!)? Get an injunction? To complicate matters, he swapped out the valve on the heat riser in my son's tiny bedroom without being asked and now it is 80 degrees in there. And we can't open the window because lead dust is blowing in from the terribly peeling, rusting fire escape.

And if you are still reading, to make matters worse, I brought in a sample of the materials blowing in though the bedroom window (the outer windowsill is also eroding and I cough constantly) and the report came back Friday positive for both lead and friable asbestos. Both the fire escape lead paint and my crumbling outer windowsill have asbestos blowing off of them. I immediately called 311 so they would send inspectors over (they are coming in the morning) and have placed my son elsewhere for a few days while I figure this out. (I had asked my LL on previous occasions and in that email chain from one week ago if he planned to abate the rusted out fire escape which blows lead paint into the bdrm at the same time as the abatement in my apt, but he refused to answer.)

Anyone have any suggestions of what actions I can take tomorrow once the inspectors leave, and my angry LL comes banging on my door claiming I must move out with no written assurances/agreement?
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Re: LL WANTS ME TO RELOCATE WITHOUT WRITTEN AGREEMENT

Postby Sky » Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:07 am

In follow up to our private correspondence: do not do things by phone. Use email or snail mail, or both (possibly with certificate of mailing or certified mail). You want a paper trail. Write all your correspondence as if a judge were to read it - be professional, courteous, reasonable, but firm - which you may end up presenting it as evidence in court.

If you have an attorney, they're the ones that should be handling this, after all it's what you're paying for. (IMHO I think the LL should pay your legal fees associated with the drafting of a relocation agreement). Your attorney should be in contact with the LL's attorney, square up the work plan, the scope of work, the duration, safety measures that will be implemented to protect you and other residents, and an IRON CLAD relocation agreement. It goes without saying they should coordinate the access dates if there's already so much conflict. If your attorney isn't doing their job, demand that they do or cut your losses and fire them.


It's a violation of NYS and city law, and federal EPA statutes, to dry sand in that manner in a building that is either presumed (by age) to contain lead paint or has tested positive for it.

One thing I'd suggest is putting the ball in the LL's court. Write him demanding who the contractor is that he insists on performing work at such short notice (and without responsibly conducting a proper relocation) and who he states will appear on 1/14 to do the lead abatement work, what the scope of the work is, how it will be performed, exact timeline for the work, measures and procedures for protecting the safety of the tenants in the building, etc.
Or, set a trap by just asking the contractor's name ... if you are to provide access you need to know who the access is for. Get it in writing. Then do a search with EPA to see if they have both EPA certification and with DOB* to see if they are a licensed contractor in NYS (the LL can't just use Nice Guy Eddie from the Home Depot parking lot to do these repairs). If not, and the LL tries to bully you and alleges you are denying access, inform him the contractor is not EPA certified and cannot legally perform the lead abatement work, and furthermore will be putting all the tenants and the public, and especially the young children - who reside or visit the building - at risk of lead contamination and he can bank on you calling in the DOB, Dept. of Health, and the EPA so as to enforce the law and protect the welfare of the residents.

Have your child tested for lead and if they test positive sue the LL.

At the FAR end of the agressiveness spectrum:
Talk with a GOOD tenant attorney. Check you lease for the legal fees clause (if either the LL or tenant is entitled to legal fees if they are the prevailing party ... it's reciprocal). If the LL insists on sending someone to do the lead abatement in an unsafe manner, file a Supreme Court case and get an injunction, and also sue the LL for all legal fees and for damages.

The contractor that dry sanded is possibly not certified by the EPA to do work in your apartment, and could also be unlicensed with NYS. If they are licensed contractors they could risk losing their license.

Once you get the firm's name (in writing), do a search with EPA:
Poke around here and familiarize yourself with the rules and laws concerning any work in a building that has lead or is built before a certain date:
https://www.epa.gov/lead/renovation-rep ... ng-program


*http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/LicenseTypeServlet?vlfirst=N
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Re: LL WANTS ME TO RELOCATE WITHOUT WRITTEN AGREEMENT

Postby Sky » Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:54 am

A technicality: is there a specific date - in writing - that the LL requested access for 1/14/2019 ... and stated details of why he wanted access, who he wanted access for, scope of work, etc?
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Re: LL WANTS ME TO RELOCATE WITHOUT WRITTEN AGREEMENT

Postby TenantNet » Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:31 am

A few don'ts... While there are always exceptions based on circumstances, but in general:

Do not let the LL make repairs that might endanger your son.

Do not let him take photos without a court order.

Do not let his (the LL's) son into your apartment - only the people needed to make the repair, and then you watch them like a hawk. YOU can take photos of them, but do so quietly or they might get bent out of shape.

Do not let the LL make repairs unless you agree on the time/date, that you are present and you know exactly what the work entails.

This is a regular rent stab apartment, correct? In normal circumstances, as far as I know, there is no such thing as an "extension" with HPD. If it was something like an Emergency Repair Program, 7A administrator, a court agreement pursuant to a HP action, there might be something to that, and you might have misunderstood what he said.

Absolutely do not relocate to another apartment without a signed agreement that is negotiated by your lawyer. This is absolute. And even then, do not relocate unless circumstances absolutely require it. Most of the time they want you to relinquish your rent stab rights.

Also understand that if the LL says the only space he has is half the size, then he should rent a same-sized apartment in the neighborhood for you to go to. This is tricky though and as Sky would say, it has to be ironclad.

What you describe is bogus. Lead paint violations do not require relocation (in my non-expert opinion), and any agreement will run several or many pages as many things require agreement. Again, have an experienced tenant attorney negotiate it with the LLs attorney (not the LL).

You say you hired an attorney. Who is it? (please answer by private mail). You have every right to sit out and wait for a suitable relocation agreement. (sounds like your private attorney is dropping the ball).

As for access, that is a gray area. In general, tenants are supposed to allow the LL access to make repairs. But in my view you can control a number of things, like the date, time, work hours, scope of the work to be performed, condition for preparation for work (safety precautions), an agreement that they will restore all floors and walls to original condition and so on. Look at the access thread in the Reference Section of this forum where the rules are laid out. I would search out Sky's posts in this forum and see what he's said on this stuff. A few years back he was in a tough situation with his LL.

The emails from the LL attorney ... are they to you or to your attorney? Depending on what is said, it might be ethically improper for an attorney to say (and might be defamatory).

So DO NOT start moving. Yes, you can refuse under the conditions you describe. If the LL tries anything, call the police (but be careful of the police as they are often anti-tenant and do not know the law). But if the LL wants to start forcing you to move, that in my view is an illegal eviction. The police should know about that. If not, see the section on Illegal Eviction in the Forum's Reference Section. If need be call the precinct captain.

Without knowing more I can't say if a HP action is the best and proper thing to do, but it is one option. However, a HP action will only get you so far. I don't think the court will opine or rule on a relocation agreement (but see Sky's remarks as he's been through court on this stuff).

Another thing to consider is filing harassment for the incorrect heat riser. But again realize that whether it's court, DHCR or otherwise, the bureaucracy will only go so far. And if you get a bad decision from any of them, the LL will use that against you.

As for asbestos ... I don't understand how a peeling paint job from an outside window sill has asbestos? But whatever. An asbestos finding might get a forced vacate order whether you want it or not. So you have to be careful on that. Just make sure you protect your son. (and in January you don't need to open your windows).
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Re: LL WANTS ME TO RELOCATE WITHOUT WRITTEN AGREEMENT

Postby rsselden » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:42 am

Thank you for replying.

Yes, it is a regular rent-stabilized apartment. I am up to date on rent. No previous court action. I have never even had to hire a lawyer before for anything in my life.

The contractor he says he is hiring is a certified lead abatement contractor. I have viewed a copy of his license and unlike other "contractors" who my landlord tromped through my apartment, he appears legit. My LL stated verbally to me a couple of weeks ago that they would be doing one abatement method (tearing out all the old cracked plaster walls and replacing with sheetrock), then in his email stated they would be merely "covering" the existing walls and ceilings with sheetrock, claiming not to understand what I mean by standard lead abatement methods (ie. "replacement" vs. "enclosure method.") Just like he claimed not to be familiar with Local Law 1 lead paint laws regarding dry sanding and repair of lead painted walls with a child under 6 present when I confronted him. Previously, he had insisted the cracked/bulging/peeling walls were in good shape, that lead paint was not an issue in the apt, and it was up to both of us to find a painter willing to undertake the work in my apt. "Let's brainstorm on this..."

The people he had dry sanding in my apartment are his 22 year old son, and the nonlegal super who does everything in the building, plumbing, electrical, etc.-- both sanded my front door down for six hours rather than rehang it. My front door was sagging so that my front door lock (one foot about door knob) no longer functioned, and I asked LL to rehang it. Instead he had the lock ripped out, the doorknob plate ripped out, and they sanded and hacked at the door through many decades of paint and a layer of metal to install a new door knob with a lock in the new doorknob plate, along with a deep trench dug into the door frame to accommodate the door sagging well into the future. Two men, and 6 hours of sanding, drilling, etc. Left my door and floor a mess, lead surfaces left exposed exactly at my son's face level.

When my bathroom door couldn't close two years ago due to sagging, I asked him to rehang it. He said he would, then returned to my apt with a handsaw and just sawed off the bottom of my door (plus a portion of the saddle) with my then under 2 year old child nearby. Rather than rehang an 8 pound door. Now, it opens at all hours by itself and won't stay shut (still sagging).

Local Law 1 does require relocation at the LL's expense when 200 feet or more of lead paint will be disturbed.

Local Law 1 also requires a company other than the one who does the work to do clearance testing to make sure proper cleanup has been done before a tenant moves back in, for obvious reasons. LL stated in email one contractor will be doing both the work and the testing, and declined to respond to my protestation of illegality.

Funny thing is, I looked online and couldn't find permits for anything at our building apartment from the work that could be attached to an MCI (new boiler, which causes scalding to freezing temps during the course of one shower) or work that went on in plain view of the street (façade work with a sidewalk shed). A lack of permits, despite all the tearing down of plaster walls by LL and his non-legal super (non-legal because another tenant found out in court he is not the super of record. His wife is.), all the electrical work and plumbing etc that are done every time there is a vacancy enabling huge bumps in rent and bumps out of RS for many apartments, while older tenants walk up and down stairs through dusty halls with noisy renovations going on.

The fire escapes located on the street side seem to have been maintained, unlike mine which is clearly out of code.

Re.asbestos, it is in the crumbling masonry windowsill 3 inches beyond window screen. There is an approx. 6 inch gouge in the masonry. Asbestos is also in the crumbling, friable lead paint on the rusting fire escape which blows into my window well. Both are classified as friable due to their crumbling condition. I believe it is also in the large masonry blocks in the bathroom walls (older tenants claim so also), but since those are not crumbling and not blowing asbestos into our sleeping area, I have not confirmed through testing and I'm not concerned about them.

In January, one does have to open the windows in a 7.5 x 8 foot room where 2 people sleep in 80 degrees. My son now wakes up every couple of hours asking for water. He was perfectly potty trained for over two years before the temperature change required drinking water after bedtime. The temperature was fine before December, until the LL suddenly swapped out the valve on the heat riser close to the ceiling, saying the previous valve was "screwing up the heat" for every other apartment in the line. It cannot be adjusted. He gave me fiberglass sleeves to put on the heat riser (2 feet from my son's head). These merely slow the heat, not lower the temperature.

Re. attorney fees -- I believed the prevailing party clause is in my original lease rider as well as in subsequent ones, but not in the latest lease rider he gave to me which would take effect in a couple months.

Re.extension -- HPD letter to me does grant him a 2 week extension due to "inability to obtain labor", and states they may grant an additional fourteen days "if the conditions have been stabilized" and furthermore, a form for an additional postponement is enclosed with the LL's copy of this letter.

LL is adamant about moving ahead with the abatement and can't be persuaded to give an kind of real written relocation agreement regarding rent terms, etc. I failed in trying to do so. My attorney failed in her efforts to get a document together with his lawyer (my sole purpose for going to her), who just put the onus back on us "What is her moveout date? We need a date, this has already been postponed [as if the postponement was my fault] and she is keeping a child in a hazardous condition!"

I apologize that is this is so long, and appreciate any insights you may have.
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Re: LL WANTS ME TO RELOCATE WITHOUT WRITTEN AGREEMENT

Postby TenantNet » Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:50 pm

Can't read all this now. Best if posts are shorter.
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Re: LL WANTS ME TO RELOCATE WITHOUT WRITTEN AGREEMENT

Postby Sky » Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:38 pm

(Part 1 of 2)

Re. attorney fees
You need to consult the original lease, not the riders or renewals.

Re: bathroom
"Now, it opens at all hours by itself and won't stay shut (still sagging)."
Call 311 and lodge a complaint to HPD of 'bathroom door defective latching/closure'.

Re: fire escape
Get this called into 311 for both HPD and DOB. Emphasize the entire fire escape on xx side of building has numerous areas of defective peeling lead paint. You may wish to place separate complaints to those agencies (separate to deter them from dismissing the entire complaint - which they still can do either arbitrarily, due to incompetence, corruption, or indifference) for peeling lead paint and also rusted defective unstable structure. If the paint is peeling it's likely the steel has begun to rust out.

FYI, if they write a violation for peeling lead paint on the fire escape, it's a pretty serious infraction, which is likely the case for the LL's silence on this issue. He'll likely have to enclose the entire area and facade of the building to contain any lead dust, flakes, paint from contaminating anything and redo the entire fire escape. He'll need to do it in a safe manner that provides safe egress in the event of a fire. Call these complaints in NOW. If he just slaps a quick and dirty coat of paint on the fire escape he'll disturb the lead that's there, avoid the violation plus any government oversight on the issue, as you lose any leverage you have to assist in having the condition safely and satisfactorily remedied.

FYI, often you have to call the same complaint in numerous!!! times to get a violation correctly issued. These agencies drop the ball at every turn, so patience and repetition is needed more often than not to get them to do their job. Check their websites frequently for updates and results of complaints.

If the LL wants to move forward with the work without a relocation, then one option is to let them. If you don't have an attorney that's doing an acceptable negotiation (btw, you may wish to fire them and or report them to the bar: if they were out of town another attorney at the firm could have done the communications, or at least notified the LL's attorney of the reason for needing to delay ... I don't know, ask for your money back due to defective representation and failure to provide services you paid them for?) ... don't give the the LL ammunition to seek to evict you due to failure to provide access.
If need be write them that as they have not provided a satisfactory relocation agreement in a timely manner, and are acting unreasonably by refusing to assume their resposnsibility in providing an adequate relocation agreement, the result is that you cannot be reasonably expected to surrender your apartment and home of many decades, nor can you be expected to be left out in the street with your child without an adequate replacement dwelling. If they insists on harassing you and proceeding in this unreasonable manner then they can perform the work while you are in residence, hire a specialist architectural/engineering abatement firm to do the work safely and up to code while you reside there with your child, despite the additional safety measures, time, and expense, that will entail, and you'll be sure to have government agencies' eyes on the place to make sure it's done right.

It seems to me the onus is on the LL to provide a reasonable relocation and that he responds responsibly to assuring standard protections for you and your property. Issues such as moving in and out, insured and bonded movers (not his son and Nice Guy Eddy from the corner bar), ditto for storage, non alteration of the apt., no change in your RS status, no increase in rent whatsoever including for any improvements or upgrades performed during the abatement, replacement of any damaged furnishings, rent free for both relocation apt. and your RS apt., scope of work, manner of lead abatement undertaken, a fixed end date and fixed return date plus monetary penalties for each day over the deadline that you are not allowed back into your apt. (to prevent him from using the abatement as a form of harassment and keeping you from moving back in), a mechanism for determining that the work is satisfactorily completed and the apartment is decontaminated and restored back to where it needs to be for you to return and occupy it (examples: an HPD inspection; an independent lead testing company). I'd also have him pay for the legal fees associated with drafting the agreement.
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Re: LL WANTS ME TO RELOCATE WITHOUT WRITTEN AGREEMENT

Postby Sky » Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:09 pm

[Sorry the second part got accidentally erased :( ]

I have to run so here's a quick version:

Re: Attorneys.
Sounds like your better off finding a better firm/attorney that will actually do what you are paying them for. Can you demand your money back since they failed to proved you the services you paid for? They were out of town but took no measures to inform the other party or to have another attorney fill in for them? Seems irresponsible. Contact the bar association and lodge a complaint?

Re: bathroom door
Call 311 for HPD complaint "defective bthrm door, defective closure, latch and lock defective"

Re: work in building without permits (electric, plumbing, construction ... separate departmental permits are necessary for most work done in these discipline). When the work is happen being call 311 to lodge DOB "work without permit in xxx apt.(s)," a separate complaint for each discipline. If they are caught a 'work without permit' violation and fine will be issued. They may also be issued a 'Stop Work Order' [SWO]. If they continue to perform the work after a SWO is issued, the fines become exponential quickly reaching 5 digits.

Dust contamination and/or debris or material storage on site is a DOB violation, call it in separately. When filing a work permit they need to file a 'Tenant Protection Plan [TPP]' which states how noise, dust, debris, etc. will be handled. Call in 311 to lodge a complaint to Dept. of Health for dust contamination in apartment and/or public halls.

Re: asbestos testing
Just because a sampling firm is certified doesn't meant the samples or tests are legit. I've personally seen an unsupervised trainee from an asbestos sampling firm take a sample from a wall area that is explicitly prohibited to sample from, an area which isn't representative of the presence of asbestos (therefor, all samples taken are disqualified as trainees cannot take the samples unsupervised... of course the firm denied any of this took place). There also must be a chain of custody with the testing lab.

Re: landlords
If your landlord is corrupt, bear in mind the saying: 'birds of feather flock together'. His employees, associates, children, contractors, etc may very likely be cut from the same cloth. Don't take anything at face value. Scrutinize everything.

Get ID from anyone entering your apt. Take a photo or copy the info down. Take pics while they are working (discretely if possible). If they object, that's their problem. You can take pics in your own apt. Look at what they are doing and how they are doing it.

There's plenty of corrupt lead abatement firms out there, including certified firms, I've seen this with my own eyes. Are they dumping the contaminated debris in the basement or storage? Dust in the public hallways? Where are they disposing of the stuff?

Re: heating
You rented the place with the capacity to adjust your heat and that was taken from you. File with DHCR for reduction of services or file an HP case.

You may also wish to file an HP case for the lead contamination, bathroom door, heat adjustment, fire escape, windows, etc. When you file an HP case you sue both the LL and HPD (HPD's mandate is to assure safe habitable dwellings). At court when you file the case you can schedule an HPD inspector to come to your apt. List every single condition including obvious stuff like loose tiles in bathroom. Everything. Look online for HPD's lists of apartment conditions. HPD after submitting a list of violations will likely negotiate help to schedule repairs and the LLL has xx days to fix the various conditions based on how serious they are. If the LL fails to do so in a timely manner, HPD may at their discretion enforce the fines for each violation and negotiate with the LL on fines they will have to pay to HPD.
HPD judges, especially, can be corrupt, incompetent, and/or complacent. However, if the LL wants to a jerk and play hardball it might be worthwhile to do this in court. If you have a legal fees clause you may be able to recoup legal fees if you use an attorney to litigate the case. If they find these conditions exist in your apt and have the violations to verify it (you already have proof of lead I presume) and get a judge to order that the LL fix it, it seems that you will be the prevailing party in court, which would entitle you to legal fees. The LL's only defense will likely be 'failure to provide access' ... they'll trot this one out even if you've provided a gilded invitation for 24/7 365 day access with a permanently open apartment door, a red carpet laid, and a free daily lunch buffet ... they'll still claim that you refused access and prevented them from doing the work .. it's all BS but it's all they have so they try to run with that and will lie to portray you as being difficult, uncooperative, unreasonable, and obstructionist. That's why you need to always appear reasonable, polite, cooperative, proactive towards making the repairs happen. Try a (free?) consult with another - good(!) - tenant attorney and get their opinions on this.

In the meantime, if you need to stall for time, ask some pointed specific questions about the abatement firm, the process, which rooms and where the lead will be abated, the windows, etc.; the specific end date, when you can move back in, if they are going to move anything in order to perform the work an if so the name of the movers and if they are bonded and insured, will things be removed from the apartment (what things) and if so ditto for any storage facility, etc. etc., and explain to the LL that these any many other issues have not been agreed upon.

Stay calm, you need a lot of patience to see stuff like this through to the end. As you are dealing with a corrupt and irresponsible individual you need to grow a thick skin and try not to take any of it personally.

Good luck!
Last edited by Sky on Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: LL WANTS ME TO RELOCATE WITHOUT WRITTEN AGREEMENT

Postby Sky » Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:59 pm

rsselden,
I've sent you a PM with some info that may be useful.

PS: if your user ID is your real name, or if it can be discerned from it, you may want to ask TenantNet if he can change your user ID.
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Re: LL WANTS ME TO RELOCATE WITHOUT WRITTEN AGREEMENT

Postby TenantNet » Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:44 pm

Sky, I can tell you that the user name does not resemble the person's email address. I don't know if there's any resemblance with the person's real name - because we don't know the real name.

Rsselden, the forum rules are that the user name should not resemble your email address or your real name. If it does, we ask you to change your user name. Landlords follow this forum so we don't want any LL to make a stink over anything you say. We ask users to remain anonymous for their own protection. See the Forum Rules for more information on this.
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Re: LL WANTS ME TO RELOCATE WITHOUT WRITTEN AGREEMENT

Postby rsselden » Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:44 pm

Quick reply because I'm putting my son to bed. Thank you so much for the multitude of suggestions and insights, Sky. I plan on following the suggestions as soon as I get a free moment. Because my efforts to make a relocation agreement were repeatedly repudiated by the LL's attorney, and due to LL's stated intention to abate in an illegal way, I decided to file an HP action. I'd prefer to not specify my attorney by name on a public forum. I will proceed to an HP action and post back when I have news. Thank you again!
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Re: LL WANTS ME TO RELOCATE WITHOUT WRITTEN AGREEMENT

Postby Sky » Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:20 pm

rsselden wrote:But my attorney was basically cowed by his attorney and said his refused to give me any kind of assurances about returning to my apt, or rent terms/raises, etc. Furthermore, she says that I have no right to refuse him access on the basis of no relocation agreement.


I find this troubling: an attorney that is cowed by a LL's attorney over a lead abatement job. Perhaps the attorney is in the wrong profession if she is easily cowed by an adversary.

If you have documented lead contamination and/or asbestos contamination, and other defects as a result of your LL's action or inaction, and this has impacted your health, safety, welfare, use and enjoyment of the apt. and that of your son, you may wish to consult with a few different tenant attorneys ... one's who will not be cowed by your adversary's council. Some attorneys offer a free consultation (some offer a free consult via phone which might be good beginning), while other's charge for the consult but will credit you the cost if you end up retaining them.

I am not an attorney so I cannot give legal advise so please do not interpret anything that I write as legal advice, it's simply my opinion as a layman.

There may be many legit reasons for a tenant to deny access, however when a tenant has a legal obligation to provide access it's a good policy to do so, but also document and take whatever legal measures are necessary to protect one's rights.

On the other hand as a hypothetical scenario, if a LL insists on access for a lead abatement and a tenant in turn grants access (opens the door, permits entry), but refuses to relocate due to the LL's refusal to act in good faith regarding a relocation agreement in a manner that is consistent with prevailing conventions - and furthermore insists that a tenant surrender their RS apartment without any clear terms in place - it would seem that such a relocation request is wholly unreasonable and would be interpreted that way in court. The court may also not look kindly on a LL's attorney obstructing relocation by refusing to address reasonable concerns, requests, and basic relocation conventions forwarded by a tenant's legal council.

Going with this scenario, a LL requests access and tenant opens the door and grants access. So now what? If, due to the LL's refusal to offer a reasonable relocation in good faith the tenant grants access but does not move, it seems to me that the LL would need to go forward and perform the lead abatement with the tenant occupying the apartment and would need to take whatever special measures are necessary to protect the safety, health, and welfare of all occupants in the apartment. That might mean contracting with an abatement engineering firm that specializes in abatements to occupied units and units with children in residence. (As an aside I frequently see lead abatements performed in occupied public buildings and spaces, also in subway stations proximate to people). That might translate into much higher cost for the LL depending on how demanding the plan would be to accommodate the residents. The landlord may have to erect temporary facilities for use by the tenant - again at great expense. In my opinion the onus would be on the LL to foot the bill - no matter how expensive or Byzantine the abatement strategy becomes - for the simple fact that a relocation did not occur. If there's any way to physically do it with a tenant in residence and no relocation agreement is arrived at, in my opinion a tenant could insist the LL to do the abatement while working around the occupants even if it cost 50x more do so. The expense is not the tenant's problem, the law's problem, or the court's problem - it's the LL's problem. The tenant offered to relocate in good faith, even hiring an attorney at their own expense to facilitate the negotiations, but encountered nothing but bad faith by LL's council. It's the LL's problem now, not the tenant's problem.

Your problem is that your attorney isn't seeing clearly. Instead of being cowed, your attorney should be seeing this as an opportunity to obtain justice, to protect your rights and that of your child, and to obtain compensation for any and all damages suffered and expenses incurred, including all legal and court fees. Assuming of course you've related the whole story accurately and your attorney is not reacting to some glaring error that you've made.

You need to do what you feel comfortable with and there's never any guarantees with legal action or courts. Outcomes are uncertain.

That said, if I were in your shoes I'd hire an attorney who would: a.) sue for repairs as well as damages, abatements, legal fees, etc. and get a court order for repairs with a deadline for the lead abatement and correction of all other conditions in the apt. (and possibly public spaces of the building - or alternately pursue the latter in a separate HP case done pro-se) and take care in drafting the legal papers so that obtaining an order for repairs is a slam dunk to assure that at the end of the day I'm the prevailing party in the suit (this strategy depends on a lease that has the requisite legal fees clause), b.) get an iron clad relocation agreement from the LL protecting all the tenant's rights and including financial penalties and a mechanism for collecting them if the work is not completed by an agreed upon date, c.) if LL exhibits bad faith and refuses to negotiate an iron clad relocation agreement, demand the LL go forward with the lead abatement/repairs with the occupants in residence regardless of the expense such an approach would cost the LL. In my opinion the LL has a legal obligation to do the work and it strikes me that if it is at all possible to perform the work with occupants in residence the LL would be responsible to do so and to foot the bill. In such a situation in my opinion relocation is a voluntary accommodation by the tenant and it is typically done because it benefits both parties. When a relocation does not benefit the tenant, and an expert's opinion is that with special planning the work can be performed with occupants in residence, it's the tenant's choice how to proceed.

Back to the access issue: if a tenant opens the door to provide access and the LL has not made a plan to abate while accommodating the occupants health, safety, and welfare, then the LL would be at fault and further would be harassing the tenant by demanding access along with threats and intimidation, when on the face of it the LL had no intention of performing the repairs and was unprepared to do so in a safe manner.

Be forewarned that most LL's have no meritorious defense for their failure to repair so they trot out the all purpose lie 'tenant obstructed repairs by denying access'. That's all they have so they'll try to tune that up as best they can with false allegations, false assertions, and false testimony from witnesses who will lie on their behalf. LL's try to muddy the waters, complicate, and confuse the situation and to sow the seeds of doubt in the court's mind. Because of this, you need to take precautions to protect yourself from this sort of corruption. Keep a paper trail of all communications. Record all conversations. Diary and document all activities. Keep exceptionally good records with dates, times, personal, and what was communicated or done. Follow up any spoken communications with an email restating what was said. Photograph all conditions, personal, and when possible vehicles (including license plates and if you so desire, vehicle registration through the windshield). Research people, verify identities, licenses, permits, and certifications ... you'd be surprised at the shenanigans LL's get up to (recall the building that exploded and was decimated near St. Mark's Place in the East Village apparently from a gas leak caused by illegal plumbing done by some incompetent chump on a 'borrowed' plumbing license). Make sure people are who they claim to be ... if a LL is a crook he'll keep the company of crooks. Be courteous, reasonable, methodical, precise. Grant reasonable access when required and abide by the law.
Then systematically destroy their lies in court and prevail with the facts backed by hard proof.

One thing you have on your side is that you're a single mom with a young child. Some judges may have little tolerance for a landlord who tries to push around a single mom and has little regard for the welfare of a child.

rsselden wrote:And now his attorney is writing insinuating emails about me keeping a four year old in an apartment with a hazardous condition and that I am "refusing to walk away from my lease." (Damn right!)


Also troubling, esp. in light of the LL's intent to do an unsolicited cabinet and electric upgrade and 'walking away from lease' language. Is the LL planning to terminate your tenancy by some sort of legal maneuvering, then upgrade the apt. with intent to remove it from RS status? That's a RS LL's wet dream. Hard to say what is going on and where to draw the line between caution, self protection, and paranoia. However, if a LL's past actions have been designed to deceive, confuse, intimidate, harass, etc.... than it is not paranoia and its wise to use caution.

rsselden wrote:LL wants me to begin moving tomorrow. Can I put my foot down and refuse to relocate?


Is 'Move tomorrow' a reasonable request? Will a judge view it that way? Or is it harassment?
It strikes me as in the same class as, "Go jump off the Brooklyn Bridge'.
You'll need to grow a thick skin and also learn your rights. But that also includes the access you are legally required to provide. So brush up on the rules and regs.
Sky
 
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