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Confirming unpaid rent

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

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Confirming unpaid rent

Postby TenantNet » Fri Oct 25, 2019 5:09 pm

We had to delete the previous threat and re-posting it here. It had been posted in the wrong forum.


confirming unpaid rent

Postby babayaga » 28 Sep 2019 01:35 am

My landlord, i.e. one of his managing agents, unsuccessfully pressured me to vacate my room in a SRO dwelling for repairs I had requested. Vacating was really unnecessary for the proposed repairs. I gave a generous amount of hours for access to repair. Instead of a repair schedule I received a 'notice confirming unpaid rent'; no demand to pay; he references RPL 235-e. - Since I have been on rent strike for quite a while, I sense a non-pay, eviction proceeding is likely to follow.

My question is: since there is no demand to pay, only to confirm, do I need to reply to this? I probably owe the rent amount listed, but I expect an eventual rent abatement for breaches, harassment, reimbursements for furnishings.

Thank you!

babayaga

Posts: 11
Joined: 14 Jun 2018 12:29 am


Re: confirming unpaid rent

Postby TenantNet » 28 Sep 2019 02:18 am
First, we moved this to NYC General Discussion as this is not about a Housing Court Decision.

You say the pressure to have you move was unsuccessful. What exactly did they do? Please flesh this out a bit. Did they make any threats? What sort of repairs were needed?

Now ... to the meat of things. Chances are your "rent strike" is unconnected to the repair situation. You might have been withholding rent to get them to make repairs, but that is not where I'm going here.

You probably know the rent laws changed back in June. RPL (Real Property Law) Section 235-e is one part that was changed. Look at this report: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=13888

It's good to read the entire thing. But first look at page 9 of the document (it says page 40 at the bottom of the page). Second item down, it says "Notice to Tenant of Failure to Pay Rent and Rent Receipts" and it requires LLs to give a notice when you haven't paid rent. Although not fully understood as the provision is new, some believe this notice is in addition to (and not a substitute for) the required 3-day notice the LL must serve on tenants before they bring a Non-Pay case in Housing Court.

Yes, a Non-Pay may be in around-the-corner. This is just the LL making sure his position is covered. You do not need to reply to the document, unless you want to negotiate an end to your rents strike.

If he does things correctly, he should then follow-up with a separate 3-day demand letter prior to commencing a court proceeding. If and when you get a 3-day demand and Petition, then you will need to answer the Petition and show up in court.

I hope you have good defenses and counterclaims all set to go when they bring a case. Start getting all your evidence in order. As you're a SRO tenant, look to Legal Aid/Legal Services for legal help.

Also, make sure that any money that you withheld is being held in escrow, in case things go south and you need to pay rent.

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Re: confirming unpaid rent

Postby babayaga » 28 Sep 2019 04:37 am
Thank you very much!!

This LL has a history of ignoring repair requests, almost 5 years now. Been to housing court with them early 2016 and won. They still owe me a 2k fine. Had to do a second hp a little over a year later because they would not repair/replace a leaking sink with water pooling along the bathroom wall.

There are still outstanding court orders for basic things like wall painting, carpet replacement. About 2 years I ago I went on rent strike as an inducement to get them to make repairs. I gradually reduced the rent, then stopped paying altogether.

I am rent-stabilized and my room has a hefty market value compared to the rent I pay. They want my room and bath, badly. There is a much smaller room next to me, and if combined with mine, would make a great moneymaker.

A year ago, they hired a manager just to handle tenant relations. Making repairs seemed to be a priority. Alas, very little got actually done for us. I had some small repairs made. They brought him in to act like he was helping us. It was a ploy to butter us up enough to support their pending conh.

Around April this year, the owner was denied a conh because of harassment. Twelve of us stepped forth and worked with the hpd attorney. We prevailed and now there is a push to make repairs so they can apply for another conh.

Normally, my repairs combined should take no longer than 4-5 days at the most. I was approached via email about vacating my room. They offered 2 temporary rooms, one for my stuff and one for me, for 9 days with extension if necessary!!!! It was a huge red flag.

No way they would have given up 2 hotel rooms for 9 days with extension for my relocation And, there was no moving back date. Would have have cost them at least 5k in income.Then they turned the pressure on about vacating my room.

Initial repairs are for the bathroom: replacing a sink, bathtub sliding doors, caulking, a crack in the tub. No reason to move out for that. I figured a couple of nights in a temp room for for wall/carpet work. The pressure: a couple of lengthy emails with ‘reasons’ why vacating is necessary for the bathroom: dust, noise.

The opinion of the ‘professional’ engineering and construction workers. In their opinion, I should move out so they can get the work done ‘more promptly efficiently’. They need access for the ‘whole room’. And, I was asked for access right away. I ignored it all, and responded with a 1 page certified letter saying I will not relocate. In fact, I will be here during repairs and will have a fellow tenant here if I cannot be here; gave them 36 hours per week for scheduling access, and asked for advance notice to start repairs, nature of the repairs etc. No reply to that.

Instead, today I received the ‘notice confirming unpaid rent’. I had not heard of this before; wanted to be sure it would be ok to ignore it. -- They wanted me vacate completely and then start legal proceedings. I might have never seen seen my room again.

Since my many problems with them, the court actions dating back so far, compared those of other tenants, I mightily contributed to the conh denial. I think I can add retaliation to my claims.

babayaga

Posts: 11
Joined: 14 Jun 2018 12:29 am


Re: confirming unpaid rent

Postby TenantNet » 28 Sep 2019 09:22 am
Thanks for the reply.

We reworked your post adding paragraph breaks so it would be more readable to others. Please remember to capitalize certain terms like "HP" and "CONH." I know what they mean, but others will not. One reason for this forum is to be an educational tool for research by others.

We work with some SRO tenants who are going through issues of relocation.

Can you tell us (via Private Mail - use the PM icon to the left of this post) the name of your landlord and the address? Don't post it on the public area of the forum. This sounds like the LL we're dealing with. Is this a private LL or a non-for-profit pretending a landlord? Some NFPs are as bad as horrible landlords.

As for relocation. Yes, stand your ground. I would get a Legal Aid/Legal Services attorney to represent you. If there ever is a real need to relocate, you will want an iron-clad relocation agreement, not something put together by the LL with all sorts of loopholes. Although there are probably some good HPD attorneys, they do not represent you. In court they will not be your attorneys.

However it sounds like in your case the repairs do not need you to vacate. To me, this sounds like harassment.

What did you mean by, "The opinion of the ‘professional’ engineering and construction workers?" It's not really a sentence and I'm not sure what you meant. Did they actually bring in an engineer? Is that person licensed? Might be fun to check.

And as I said, make sure you have the unpaid rent in escrow just in case things go bad when they take you to court. Have all your evidence in order.

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Re: confirming unpaid rent

Postby babayaga » 28 Sep 2019 08:00 pm
"... What did you mean by, "The opinion of the ‘professional’ engineering and construction workers?" ... Did they actually bring in an engineer? Is that person licensed?"

They attempted to intimidate me by referencing the 'professional judgment of the engineering and construction staff' ...Their judgment can be trusted because they successfully renovated bathrooms like mine ... (long email) -- The reality: they have a 24/7 maintenance dept. which they call 'engineering dept.' There are no engineers employed here. There are no professionals employed here! There are no licensed employees here. They all learned on the job. Their English communication skills range from zero to 60%. Last year they were ordered by the court to replace a sink. They replaced it with a filthy one with a mismatched basin + pedestal which resulted in mold growith. They replaced cracked tiles and applied grout which is water-absorbent between them. They destroyed caulking around sink, toilet. Some of the current repairs will be repairs of repairs!! Their work tends to be sloppy, haphazard. And it goes uncorrected when you asked for a correction.. The workers show up late or not at all ... So again, they tried to intimidate me with those 'professional judgments' and the wonderful work they do for the hotel and guests. Of course, that email did not merit a reply. It was silly, a nuisance, had no relationship to reality, was sheer harassment.

babayaga

Posts: 11
Joined: 14 Jun 2018 12:29 am


Re: confirming unpaid rent

Postby TenantNet » 28 Sep 2019 08:42 pm
That sounds like BS and an attempt to intimidate. I would ask for the engineering report (of course there is none) and the name and license number of the engineer or architect. Question every thing they claim. My LL tries the same nonsense.

They claim I must do something because "the law" requires it. Fine, show me the law. They claim certain devices must be "city-approved." Fine, show me the list of what's approved.

On appointments, I tell them they must request and I must approve the dates (they try to show up unannounced). They must also confirm the appointment 48 hours before the time. I tell them they must show up within 30 minutes of the agreed-to time, or I will assume they are not coming, and go take a walk. I demand the names of all repairmen. In my opinion, all of that is reasonable.

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Re: confirming unpaid rent

Postby babayaga » 24 Oct 2019 03:04 am
I have a non-pay on the way.
The ll is using a ledger with weekly unpaid rent from 6/3/18 to 9/22/19
However, he lists a previous unpaid balance for prior to 6/3/18, more than half of what I owe (I think). He lumped the two together. Not sure what to do with that. There are no dates for prior to 6/3, just a total ... Do I have to prove whether I owe this prior to 6/3 or not? Or do they they have to show proof for which weeks I owe this? Not sure what to do with this ..
Thanks!

babayaga

Posts: 11
Joined: 14 Jun 2018 12:29 am


Re: confirming unpaid rent

Postby TenantNet » 24 Oct 2019 09:02 am
We sent you a few Private Mails back in September - did you get those? The address you listed is an old hotel with SRO tenants, and which the LL has been converting to a tourist place. We had been in touch with another tenant from that hotel, but that was a few years ago and haven't heard from her recently.

From what I remember, the LL seems pretty crooked. You need to scrutinize the ledger to see what they are claiming. Did you earmark your payments where you write on the check or money order, "rent for Sept. 2019 only" -- that means they can only apply it to that specific month and can't move it around.

You should prepare your own record of when you paid rent, for what months or weeks, and what proof you have. Do you have copies of the checks or money orders? If paid by mail, did you sent by Certificate of Mailing?

My understanding is that the LL must specify for what weeks they claim the rent is unpaid, no matter how old it is.

Do you have an attorney? Look at the Right to Counsel to see if your zip code is now covered. Even if not, depending on your income, you might still be entitled to an attorney, but you might need to try different places - they are all on budget squeezes these days. I would try Mobilization for Justice, GOLES or Urban Justice Center - to start.

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Re: confirming unpaid rent

Postby babayaga » 25 Oct 2019 12:03 am
Thank you very much! I have rent receipts and I will get an attorney. I have been working, i.e. studying for awhile reading the boards, cases, definitions ... knowing the time will come for a non-pay. I have 4 years+ on breaches of the WoH alone, lots of pictures. I hope I can include laches, still working on this one. I am concerned about presenting this in court. Will I be granted enough time, like about 3 2-hour sessions. -- They will move to a summary judgment by Nov 11. Other tenants have received notices. You may hear from more.
One more issue: The ll has made a few minor repairs but not the big ones like wall painting, carpet replacement, defective sink .. Would it be prudent to file another HP action at this point or would it just muddy the waters re: the Nov 11 deadline coming up. Thx.

babayaga

Posts: 11
Joined: 14 Jun 2018 12:29 am


Re: confirming unpaid rent

Postby TenantNet » 25 Oct 2019 01:03 am
Laches doesn't get you out of the non-pay hole ... it just means the LL will have to commence a case in Civil or Supreme Court (not Housing Court), and that is not always to the tenants' benefit.

Are any of the months the LL claims the rent was not paid more than six years ago? If so, then you can claim Statute of Limitations. That is where earmarking can help. LLs often apply current payments to the earliest outstanding date, which can be years ago. Look in the details of your lease to see if that issue is raised.

That's where earmarking might help, if you specify which month any payment you make should be applied. So if you sent a check or MO to the LL in early October, and if you wrote on the check/MO, something like "Rent for October 2019 and for no other months," then they are supposed to apply it for October, only, and not for some month a long time ago.

As for their ledger, if this goes to trial, they are supposed to have testimony from the person who administers receipt of rent payments. A good lawyer can tear holes into the ledgers, which are often sloppy.

All this should be before you get into issues of repairs, warranty of habitability and any abatements.

If you can get legal help, let the attorney worry about how things happen in court. If other tenants are getting these, then consider trying to get all the tenants in the same courtroom with the same judge and the same atty representing all of you. Other buildings have done that. Some buildings even go for Class Action cases, but that's often in dealing with issues like J51 or 421(a) abatements and deregulation.

You say they are moving for Summary Judgment? But have they served you with a Petition yet? All you said was that a NP was "on the way." They can't do SJ unless there's a case that's been filed. And how do you know they intent to file a SJ motion?

If there is a case, let us know the docket number via private mail. You should get the postcard from the court, and you will need to file an answer, pretty soon.

In the meantime though, work on getting legal help.
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