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Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Smollens’s Answers

8,346 total

  • I live in an rental apartment for 37 years I'm 88 years old. There's only one other tenant the building. The very bad condition

    don't know if I can sue them

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    I am sorry to learn of your distress. Your landlord seems determined to let the building fall into ruin and so induce you and the remaining tenant to leave. That is a tactic employed by unscrupulous landlords to deprive tenants of the legal right to safe habitable housing. You need a lawyer.

    See question 
  • Can I evict someone who has moved in with my tenant who is not on the lease?

    The person says they are visiting but they are there all the time for months. How long are they aloud to visit before I consider them living there.

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Babylon Property Owner:

    New York State law (Real Property Law Second. 235-f) allows a tenant the right to a roommate without any need for advance permission and totally free from the landlord's interference.

    After thirty days a landlord is allowed to know the roommate's name.

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  • What is the best way to "evict" someone from my apartment who is not on my lease?

    I lease an apartment with someone & she has had her cousin "stay" with us. It was originally for a few days but now it's been over a month & the roommate says she's staying another two weeks. This person is not on the lease & doesn't pay rent. I h...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Brooklyn Tenant:

    Believe your landlord. She is correct since you not she has the legal relationship with your roommate. If in fact your "roommate" is a co-tenant (someone who signed the lease along with you) then likely (see an attorney to discuss the situation in greater detail) you have no power to rescind your co-tenant's permission to her cousin to live in the apartment.

    If in fact the cousin will really leave in a couple of weeks that is a far faster positive outcome than any you could achieve in court assuming you could figure out some legal claim.

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  • Renting space in a illegally converted building.

    Thank you in advance. 2012 I signed a lease ending 2022 The lease was supposed to be corrected and it never was. I reached out to a mediator July 2015 to help resolve the lease issue. Landlord never showed up. I stopped paying rent. He then...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Bronx Tenant:

    This is your business. You cannot afford not to have an attorney. You need to prepare and to serve a written verified answer to the petition where you deny the landlord's claims and raise as you did in this question your affirmative defenses. If you can do so, I suggest you also prepare and serve a motion to dismiss. That would force the landlord into seeking an adjournment to respond to your papers.

    If you do nothing at all on the first court date try to secure an adjournment to hire an attorney.

    Yes if you lose the lawsuit and do not pay the rent you owe the court will issue a warrant of eviction and a marshal could carry out the eviction some time within two months of losing the case.

    You seem to have a real business fraud claim here so deal with it.

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  • I pay $1050.00 rent in a 4 family apartment bldg. I had a 1 yr lease. My rent was raised $300 for a tiny 1 bedroom apartment.

    My neighbor's rent increase was only $25.00. for a 2 bedroom. I feel the landlord is retaliating against me because I had to report a violation that was affecting my health. I had appealed to him to remedy the situation that was allowing gas to ...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Bronx Tenant:

    There is no arena or government agency to deal with rents in private unregulated rental buildings. New York State lets the "market" set the rent. So other than a court in a lawsuit you initiate, or the city agency with jurisdiction over discrimination in housing, there is no where to go to answer is this rent hike legal.

    To me, your landlord retaliated against you, but since you are still offered a lease, you may have a hard time proving a violation of the State law prohibiting a retaliatory eviction.

    Your landlord's $300/month rent increase may violate the law prohibiting retaliatory evictions (if your complaint about escaping gas was made withing six months of your complaint to the city):

    ">>> 2. No landlord or premises or units to which this section is applicable shall substantially alter the terms of the tenancy in retaliation for any actions set forth in paragraphs a, b, and c of subdivision one of this section. Substantial alteration shall include, but is not limited to, the refusal to continue a tenancy of the tenant or, upon expiration of the tenant's lease, to renew the lease or offer a new lease; provided, however, that a landlord shall not be required under this section to offer a new lease or a lease renewal for a term greater than one year and after such extension of a tenancy for one year shall not be required to further extend or continue such tenancy. 3. A landlord shall be subject to a civil action for damages and other appropriate relief, including injunctive and other equitable remedies, as may be determined by a court of competent jurisdiction in any case in which the landlord has violated the provisions of this section. >>>"-

    See more at:

    This would allow you to initiate a lawsuit in Bronx County Supreme Court for an injunction.

    You may have a claim for discrimination in housing based on your disability and your landlord failing to accommodate you. You would need to file a complaint at the NYC Commission on Human Rights (

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  • Eviction for non renewal of lease

    In November 2014 I told the tenant. Will not be renewing his least my reason for that is I need the space I own a private home I been trying to evict the tenant up to 11 months and now he just telling me about repairs that need to be fix I belie...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Bronx Property Owner:

    Unless the tenant and apartment are subject to Rent Stabilization, you had no need to offer a reason to the tenant to end the tenancy. You had the right as soon as the lease ended to start a Housing Court summary holdover proceeding. If you hesitated and took rent after the end of the lease you allowed a month to month tenancy. You could end that tenancy also at a time of your choosing with an NYC thirty day termination notice.

    So what did you do? Did you start a court case as soon as the lease ended? Did you delay and start a case after terminating a month to month tenancy? Are you without an attorney?

    Repair issues generally are irrelevant and not considered as a defense in a summary holdover proceeding unless the landlord also looks to gain a money judgment for unpaid rent.

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  • Landlord stating rent increase or water bill being paid for excess water usage in a 2family one water meter home!

    My landlord recently sent a letter to us stating that he will raise our rent or make us pay for high water bill. We live in a 2 family house with one water meter. new tenants reciently moved in down stairs they have a family of 8/9 people and we a...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Staten Island Tenant:

    A NYC tenant without a lease and occupying a home as a month to month tenant, lives every month with their lives on a limb, waiting for the landlord to come around and cut off the limb. In a legal two family house, a NYC tenant does not have the protection of the NYS Multiple Dwelling Law, and must look to the Housing Maintenance Code for relief. Your landlord may not have a legal two family home as described in the HMC. One water meter is a telltale of an illegal conversion since the City began to count heavily on income from water and sewer fees as determined by a meter.

    Look up information about your building at nyc dob gov. Check for a Certificate of Occupancy. If a legal two family you should find a C of O to allow for two family use. You may need to probe into the Department of Finance water and sewer charges for the building. The DOF should show the actual charges for water and sewer. You may find proof that the new household spiked the use of water run through the meter.

    But that will be no more than personal vindication you are correct. As a month to month tenant the tenancy lasts as long as you and the landlord have an agreement about the rent. The landlord has a right to end the relation at any time with a properly served written thirty day tenancy termination notice.

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  • Do I have to fix the Repair from a tenant who lease has not been renewed since November 2014

    The Repair he has stated came to my attention only yesterday I have reason to believe he's trying to buy time cause we are trying evicted him do to non payment of rent do I have to pay for those repairs

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Bronx Property Owner:

    NYC tenants without current leases (lease expired) are considered as month to month tenants. The tenancy continues by operation of law, when the tenant offers rent and the landlord accepts rent. There is never a need to evict a month to month tenant for non-payment of rent. The proper procedure is a summary holdover proceeding after the landlord properly served a written one month tenancy termination notice. New York City Housing Court does not recognize the alleged breach of the statutory Warranty of Habitability as a defense to a landlord's summary holdover proceeding. So if you started a holdover proceeding this repair would not be an issue even had you had long-term knowledge of the tenant's complaint. When you come to court in a non-payment proceeding against a month to month tenant, you open the door to tenant defenses based on a claim of failure to repair, you allow the court to examine your entire building's history of housing code violations, and you set yourself up for an inspection of the tenant's apartment to look for more code violations.

    I gather you do not have an attorney.

    No NYC tenant expects a lease renewal unless the apartment is subject to Rent Stabilization. If the apartment is Rent Stabilized and your tenant did not accept a proper lease renewal offer, you had the immediate right to end the tenancy at that time and take the apartment away from the tenant in a summary holdover proceeding. If the apartment is Rent Stabilized and the landlord did not make a proper lease renewal offer, the landlord is in big time trouble in the Housing Court.

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  • The landlord took about 3200 from my deposit. could I fight for it and get it back? it happened in CA but now I'm in NY

    There was a fire in the apartment and the insurance should've covered it but they charged us for some of the damages for it and also there was mold in the apartment and we left the windows open all the time but we still got mold. they charged...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear California Tenant:

    OK. If you sue you will do so in California. Likely, you will need a local lawyer. You need to check with a California attorney whether there is a process where you could maintain a lawsuit without need for a personal appearance.

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  • Judge ruled and changed original lease date from 3/1 to 8/1 because the tenant signed it late. Is this legal?

    This is a court case to try to get an apartment for owners own use. Judge after over a year dismisses the case saying the lease was wrong. Tenant kept mailing it back n forth to ghe attorney n signed it in May not March1. But the judge also change...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Brooklyn Owner:

    You must have had an attorney in an owner's use case. So any response I make is likely way short of the mark since I do not have the judge's decision or the trial record and evidence. Housing Court does not have jurisdiction to reform a lease. So the judge must have determined some other method to deny a timely notice of non-renewal of the lease. An appeal is time limited. The process starts with serving and filing a Notice of Appeal along with the $30.00 filing fee. If you do not do that at least then it will not make any difference if you are correct that the judge was wrong.

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