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Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Smollens’s Answers

8,165 total


  • How to find legal regulated rent for apartments

    I found a rent stabilized apartment but the rate is a preferential rate which seems lower than the rate for deregulated apartments in the same area. How can I look up the legal regulated rent for the apartment before I rent it? Is that possible? T...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    On Monday travel to the local DHCR office, sign in to see a counselor and obtain a rent history for the apartment. You will need the proposed lease and all riders including the preferential rent rider and Rent Stabilization Rider. Check online for the DHCR office covering your location in NYC.

    A rent stabilized apartment offered with a preferential rent should be less expensive than a similar unregulated apartment in the same area. But not always so. If the building you are renting into is a so-called luxury rental where Rent Stabilization exists due to a 421-a Real Property Tax abatement, the actual legal rent may be very high (over $4000) and so the preferential rent offer is designed to induce a tenant to take a lease. The preferential rent rider you want should provide that the preferential rent is for the duration of the tenancy and not limited to the current lease.

    Rent Stabilized rents in these new luxury rental buildings are very expensive, but the features most new tenants crave (the luxury amenities, the novelty of the building and location, the height and the view) are all part of the rent stabilized rights including renewal leases at regulated rent increases. The key is determining whether the preferential rent is a one and done or is designed to last out the tenancy no matter how often the tenant renews at lease renewal time.

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  • Who holds the legal rights to the Irving Berlin estate?

    I am particularly interested in the song God Bless America.

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear interested in Irving Berlin:

    The God Bless America Fund owns the copyright.

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  • How do I go about with an eviction in new York state?

    The individual in question is not related but her daughter is my niece. They have been living there for some time under my late father not paying rent. I tried to get them to pay a set 700 dollars a month but they failed to do so. I gave them so...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Medford Property Owner:

    In New York State a person with a superior right to legal possession may commence a summary proceeding to remove a tenant or an occupant from real property.

    You did not describe your relation to the property other than mentioning the person in possession was let in by your late father. If you are not the owner of the property you may not have any standing in relation to this person.

    If you are the successor owner, you mixed up the situation by making a person who seemingly did not pay rent or have a lease (that person let in by your late father at that time was a licensee) become a tenant by asking for rent. Left alone, a licensee may have the occupancy right ended with a ten day notice. On the other hand, a tenant requires a one month notice. Given today, a properly made notice would end the tenancy on September 30. If you wait until next month you set back that date to move out until October 31.

    But you need to sit down with a lawyer and get interviewed. It is not clear who you are in relation to the unwanted occupant, whether that person was a legal tenant or not before you asked for rent, or the impact on that person's status by asking for rent and then abandoning the quest for rent.

    If you are the property owner that person may be a licensee or may be a tenant. The facts will come out when you discuss with a lawyer.

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  • Can i collect from co-op apt owner for repairs in my apt due to water damage caused by a fire

    There was a fire on the co-op apt above mine and there was water damaged to my kitchen cabinets. I cant afford to replace cabinets. Can I sue the co-op apt owner who caused the fire?

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Flushing Tenant:

    A lawsuit will take a long time to resolve and a successful outcome still requires enforcement of a money judgment to collect. A swifter course is through your renter's insurance or filing against the neighbor's insurance.

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  • Can an attorney assist with neighbor disputes?

    Moved to our rented house 10 years ago, maintained the 1acre and home we reside in. Neighbor has started to remove fence that has been up for 30+ yrs saying it's not in the right location wants to move it onto our lawn. We have currently stopped ...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Hudson Tenant:

    Your landlord will need to be more active or risk you claiming the landlord by inaction caused a breach of the lease by violation of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Technically, as a tenant, you do not have legal standing to challenge the adjoining land owner's encroachment onto the property. In any real sense, both in civil law and criminal law, the entry onto another person's property is a trespass. The police may deal with a criminal trespass. The Courts deal with a Civil trespass.

    New York State does not recognize the legal concept of civil harassment. New York penal law recognizes the threats of the neighbor as criminal acts. The criminal activity is directed at you and your family, so you have the right to call the police.

    Your landlord has to deal with this. If the neighbor truly invaded your landlord's property, a court order is required to enjoin this activity.

    This never should have gone on for four years. A thug needs to be be controlled quickly.

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  • This is the 3rd time I've asked this question, I'm Pro Se on my pending lawsuit my former attorney was dismissed by the judge.

    I had to file an "amended complaint " the defense attorney filed a"Verified answer to Amended Complaint! My question is, how much time do I have to respond to their Verified answer? Thank- you

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Binghamton Plaintiff:

    There is no need for confusion. A plaintiff does not respond to an answer directly. Be sure you read the amended answer thoroughly and did not identify any claim by defendant described as a "Counterclaim". If there is a Counterclaim YOU MUST REPLY to a Counterclaim.

    Try these pages: For ALL New York pro se Litigants: https://www.nycourts.gov/courthelp/

    Read the Guide to Self Represented (Pro Se) Litigation. Although written from the point of view of the NYC Civil Court this Guide helps a litigant without an attorney: https://www.nycourts.gov/publications/GuideforProSes.pdf

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  • I submitted an "Amended Complaint" 3 weeks later I received a "Verified Answer to Amended Complaint" do I need to respond?

    If I need to respond how soon should I do this? I am Pro Se because I have contacted over 40 attorneys and no one would help me. Can you "please" answer this question ASAP. Thanks for your time in this matter.

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Binghamton Plaintiff:

    In New York procedure the basic pleadings are the complaint and the answer. When an answer or an amended answer contains a counterclaim the plaintiff must serve a reply to the counterclaim to avoid a potential default. Usually, a plaintiff reply to a defendant's counterclaim follows the same format as an answer to a complaint.

    If the answer does not raise legitimate defenses to the causes of action alleged in the amended complaint you should consider making a motion to dismiss.

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  • Establishing a Co-Tenancy

    Will landlord's acceptance of security deposit from roommate (who is not on the lease) create a landlord tenant relationship? Will it establish him as a co-tenant even though he is not on the lease?

    Steven’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    No. Helping the tenant to make a full security deposit does not create a landlord and tenant relation. The roommate remains an occupant subject to the agreement made by the tenant and the roommate.

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  • I would like my roommate who isn't on the lease to leave. Is this illegal?

    My roommate helped me get this apartment but he has bad credit and can't be on the lease. He recently got rejected again and started to be really rude. I am renting out two other rooms one to a month to month person and the other through Airbnb. M...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Brooklyn Tenant:

    Your situation in not "illegal" Roommate eviction cases are so common, the Housing Court published an online guide and do it youself program for Roommate Holdover Proceedings. Look it up. If you served the termination notice properly you should be able to start the Holdover on October 1.

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  • Should owner of dog reimbursement for vet bill

    I was looking after my cousin dog when she and another dog began barking at each other. I tried to restrain her but her collar popped and she ran after the dog and bit him. I paid the vet bill. Is my cousin legally responsible to compensate me for...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Brooklyn Cousin:

    I gather the dog's owner already turned down your request for reimbursement for the expenses you incurred due to the accident on your watch.

    Use your own judgment whether you should sue your cousin. It is not possible to know that the dog broke free because the leash or collar were defective, or not adequate. Your cousin surely has more experience with the dog and leash and collar set up then you and if the dog never broke free before it would be pretty difficult to prove the leash and collar were not suitable for the circumstances.

    This is your cousin. So suing is up to you.

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