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Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Smollens’s Answers

7,885 total


  • Can my landlord evict me only because I am not getting along with my room mates? One of them is not even on the lease.

    One of them is not even on the lease because they just moved into the apartment a couple of weeks ago. and they are complaining about the internet being cut off sometimes. The account is in my name and is hooked up in my room and only one person ...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    Your landlord could charge you with a breach of lease and take the issue to NYC Housing Court for a judge to determine if the breach is sufficient to support an end of your tenancy and so allow for an eviction.

    You are responsible for your roommates behavior. Roommates are never on leases. A NYC tenant is allowed one roommate only at a time. When two or more tenants are on a lease together they are not allowed any roommates. A tenant may lose the right to a rent regulated tenancy by charging a roommate more than a proportionate share of the rent.

    Unless you guaranteed Internet access to the roommate you have no obligation. One modern method for expanding access in an apartment is through a wireless connection.

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  • Shared driveway with my neighbor in NYC. Noisy parties, guest in the driveway until the wee hours, litter, and block entry.

    I have asked them to not stand on my side; however, such continues. He plays loud music that can be heard 3 blocks away. We have called the police, had legal papers forwarded, pleaded. He keeps driveway dirty and refuses to clean up. Refuses t...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Home Owner:

    Your neighbor is obnoxious and not at all concerned about you and your rights. If noise is heard three blocks away the police should ticket. Call NYC EPA and file a complaint or do so online. http://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/service/1197/noise-from-neighbor

    No one is coming to your rescue. You need a lawyer and likely a private nuisance abatement lawsuit in Supreme Court.

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  • What annual percentage can a landlord raise the rent in a rent-controlled multi-unit building in Long Beach, nassau county, NY.

    Mutli-unit high rise building in Long Beach, NY. What are the rent stabilization laws in Nassau County? How much can my management co. raise the rent legally?

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Long Beach Tenant:

    I am sure you meant your building is Rent Stabilized by reason of the 1974 Emergency Tenant Protection Act. Read more at: http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/FactSheets/orafac31.pdf

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  • I got a summon to court for eviction my name is spelled wrong and apartment has the wrong number is this legal

    Landlord comes when ever to collect rent has several code violations

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Southampton Tenant:

    Are you looking at a Summons (Small Claims Court) or a Notice of Petition and Petition (Landlord and Tenant Court)? If you have a Landlord and Tenant case, the landlord must state facts supporting a Rent Demand in advance of the lawsuit. The Rent Demand may be stated as orally made or may be written. If written then the Rent Demand must satisfy State law to be proper. Without a Rent Demand (oral or written) a landlord does not state a case for an eviction for rent nonpayment.

    In any case, as a tenant, you have a right to Answer the claim and state your defenses. Go ahead and claim the premises are not described properly. An accurate description of the premises (address and apartment number) is essential for a notice of petition and for a petition. A court cannot grant a landlord a judgment for the wrong premises. The code violations may present a defense based upon a breach of the statutory Warranty of Habitability.

    If you do not answer the case then the landlord's mistakes go unnoticed and your defenses cannot be taken into account. Read more about the nonpayment case at: https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/6jd/townvillage/SummProcMan.pdf

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  • Need to file notice of appeal on a court order regarding landlord refusing to return security deposit to tenant.

    Landlord rented apartment under verbal agreement, but no written lease, land lord had two witnesses in court to verify tenant agreed with verbal 30 day notice agreement and to clean the apartment, Judge ordered landlord to return three quarters of...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Elmira Property Owner:

    Were you the defendant in a Small Claims case brought by the tenant? If so, you could check for forms at this location, or go to the Court House: https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/6jd/chemung/elmira/forms.shtml

    You may find a Notice of Appeal at: https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/6jd/chemung/elmira/forms/appealnotice.html

    You may have lost on a matter of credibility. If so, appeals rarely reverse a trial court when the decision is based on the credibility of a party and witnesses. In New York State a state law allows either the landlord or the tenant in a month to month tenancy to give notice to the other ending the month to month tenancy, as long as one month notice is provided. There is absolutely no need for a tenant in a month to month tenancy to consent to provide a verbal 30 day notice, since State law already mandated a one month notice. If you counterclaimed for the next month rent, then the Court may easily have decided you were entitled to rent for the next month since the tenant did not provide the statutory one month notice, and also decided the tenant was entitled to the return of 75% of the security since the apartment was not cleaned. If you did not counterclaim for the rent then all that the court could rule on was the tenant's claim for return of the security deposit. In New York State, unless you had a written agreement with the tenant allowing the security deposit to cover owed and unpaid rent, the general rule is that the landlord cannot keep security except to cover the expense of repair to the apartment.

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  • Can i be taken to court for nonpayment of rent? For nine months he has been accepting 2 checks, rent and arrears.

    now he is demanding full payment of arrears. Can i be taken to court for nonpayment? nyc, 47 yrs rent controlled tenant, 80yrs old elderly widow, who because of SCRIE program reapplication fell into arrears. due to 6 months grace period.

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York City Tenant:

    If you are in the group of SCRIE eligible tenants victimized by the unpublished rule changes enacted by the NYC Department of Finance and so got caught with need to pay the full legal rent, get in touch now with your local member of the NYC City Council. You may get help from a staff member.

    Unfortunately you and many other vulnerable fixed income senior citizens are caught up with a government self-inflicted injury, but no one from the City is rushing to your rescue. Your landlord has the right to demand rent if rent is owed. You like so many others had no way to know that your rent increased so you fell behind while paying your accustomed SCRIE rent. You need political help. If you may afford a lawyer hire a lawyer. You may also turn to your local senior citizen center for help.

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  • My landlady served a 3-day Notice to Cure for back rent the day after she knew I was going on vacation. Is cure period valid?

    I'm a small business owner with a commercial lease in NYC. I told my landlady, both by email and phone, that I would be out of town and not checking email from Friday June 26 through late Friday July 3. She had a Notice to Cure for back rent (long...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear NYC Business Owner:

    Do you have the document with you? There is huge difference between a notice to cure and a three day notice to pay rent (the NY form for a statutory Rent Demand).

    A default in paying rent with a rent demand forces the landlord to commence a nonpayment summary proceeding in the Commercial Landlord & Tenant Part of the NYC Civil Court. A tenant has an arsenal of defenses (you already mentioned a couple) available in a nonpayment proceeding. You will need a lawyer if your business is a corporation or some other form other than individual proprietor.

    A notice to cure is prelude to a lease termination. If the lease allows the landlord to issue a notice to cure based on the alleged claims in the notice, the tenant must secure an injunction in Supreme Court (look this up: "Yellowstone Injunction") to prevent tenancy termination.

    You need a lawyer right now who could read and review your lease and the landlord's served document.

    In New York, there is a general rule prohibiting a commercial landlord's reliance on the lease termination grounds when the only claimed failure is paying rent.

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  • Can management send a notice suddenly taking away a tenant's privileged with no reason after so many years of it being done?

    I live in a rent stabilized bldg,some apts have open balconies, as we are on the top floors, mine being one of them. Lower ones have roof.214 apts...the bldgs was built in the early 70's. A lot who have balconies have grills & we bbq in the summer...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Forest Hills Tenant:

    The FDNY amended the code a few years ago and the bottom line is that any grill with a flame, gas or charcoal is not allowed in apartment buildings patios and terraces. You could check that out on your own.

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  • Want to put son on lease.My son grew up in the apt. It's rent stabilized & family lived her for 22 yrs.Spouse & I are divorcing.

    Husband is staying in apt & on lease. I'm moving out & want to leave apt to my son should my husband ever decide to move. My son grew up in the apartment with us and moved out on his own in the same building on a different floor a few years ago. A...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Jamaica Tenant:

    Rent Stabilization allows adding a spouse to a lease. Any other family member must qualify for succession rights. The successor tenancy claim is available only when the last tenant of record departs the apartment. At a minimum the successor must have legal and admissible evidence of sharing the apartment with the tenant for at least two years and that the apartment is the successor's primary residence during that period. If you want to set up a potential successor tenancy hire an attorney now.

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  • Can a NYC store charge a 5 cent bottle deposit for drinks that are ineligible under the Bottle Bill (water with sugar drinks)?

    A NYC store is charging a 5 cent bottle deposit on VitaminWater plastic bottle drinks (20 oz) even though the label on the bottle clearly marks that NY is NOT listed as one of the states. Only states listed are: CA CRV; CT-HI-ME-OR 5 cent dep. The...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear NYC Consumer:

    Report the price overcharge to the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs. Shop at another store.

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