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Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Smollens’s Answers

8,055 total


  • Do I need to show up in housing court if landlord fails to serve me 30-day notice?

    I overstayed my six-month lease, the landlord sued me in New York City housing court for eviction and unpaid rent, but the landlord has never served me a 30-day notice. If I don't show up in court, would a default judgment be issued against me?

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    Sure you need to go to court and defend the lawsuit. How would the court know you were not served a termination notice if a termination notice was needed without you raising that issue as a defense in your written answer.

    If you had a lease for a fixed term (six months) and did not move out at the end of the lease and the landlord did not accept a rent payment from you after the lease ended and before starting the court case, then it s likely no termination notice is needed. A landlord may proceed directly to court in a holdover proceeding after a lease ends as long as a new month to month tenancy came into existence.

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  • Can I get my sublet money back?

    I paid 2 weeks in advance and deposit for a sublet apartment on a week to week basis( no contract or lease). There were also 2 other roommates there. On the 4th day, one of the roommates left a dog in the apt and left without giving me a heads up ...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Brooklyn Tenant:

    I am not sure what arrangement you made, but a sublease is not oral or week to week. A New York sublease is written always with required landlord approval and never for less than thirty days. Short term room rentals within an apartment are not legal in NYC.

    It is difficult to sue anyone for money without having proof of an agreement.

    Small Claims Court is an option.

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  • May I (prime tenant) remove my 2 month subtenant for refusing to pay last month's rent - before her final month is up?

    The woman to whom I'm subletting refuses to pay her last month's rent. I've read a *landlord* must provide 30 days notice to remove a tenant (she leaves in 18). Must I do the same to get her out? She has also stopped communicating with me about ...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    No. Even with a proper notice, a tenant may not remove a subtenant who is in default of paying rent without a proper court proceeding.

    You have the right to start a summary holdover proceeding against the subtenant on the day following the end of the sublease, as long as you have a written agreement, if the subtenant does not move out.

    Your subtenant knows you have no way to force her to pay. With a short duration sublease it is suggested to take the entire rent in advance. Even then, should the subtenant not move out, a court proceeding is necessary.

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  • Is it illegal for a landlord to withhold lease information to someone who may have been added to the lease without acknowlegemen

    I live in the state of New York. I live in an apartment with my roommate and his girlfriend. A lease was drawn up when we moved in, but it was between my roommate and the landlord. Couple of weeks ago my roommate told me that he put me on the leas...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Fulton Tenant:

    A person who signs a contract with another person is liable.
    To be held to the obligations as a tenant to a written lease a person must sign the lease. A forgery is not a signature. If you are not a tenant the landlord has no obligation to share the lease with you.

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  • NYS Tenant wishes to end tenancy . Became month to month. Writes a email Aug 2nd 11:02 PM

    I have vacated the premises........PER YOUR 3 DAY NOTICE ? As we are square financially RULES OF LAW I have always been told as a landlord that I had to give a tenant before the end of the month a 30 day notice to leave. Always had to start ...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Port Jefferson Property Owner:

    Did the tenant depart after a written rent demand? If so, the tenant followed one of the alternate methods to resolve a claim about unpaid rent to avoid a summary nonpayment proceeding. The New York statutory demand requires the tenant pay the past due rent within three days or surrender possession to the landlord. If you made a rent demand your tenant seemingly took the option to surrender.

    If the tenant moved out without you making a rent demand then yes, the tenant technically owes rent for August and September. If the tenant truly moved out and you have the keys, your claim for rent owed will be in a Small Claims case. If you rent the premises sooner than September your damage claim would cover only August.

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  • Can a co-op board evict me from my sublet apt. without proof corroborating complaints from an excessively complaining tenant?

    I am a tenant on a sublease apartment in Brooklyn, New York in a co-op board managed building. Within the past year I have received multiple unsubstantiated complaints from an unreasonable neighbor. This neighbor has constantly complained about th...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Brooklyn Tenant:

    It would help if a lawyer could look at the "letter" revoking your occupancy right. Usually, the cooperative is not the party going to court in this type of dispute. Rather, the cooperative makes your continued occupancy the shareholder's problem and in doing so, forces the shareholder to terminate your tenancy and take you to court if you do not voluntarily move.

    Among the problems is that the underlying complaints about your alleged conduct are not part of the lawsuit. That is so because the revocation of consent is the basis for your landlord to terminate your tenancy, and not the reasons for the revocation of consent. The shareholder has a right to challenge the coop board' s decision. If your landlord does not do so, the penalty for not removing you from the building is the shareholder risks termination of the cooperative lease.

    Time for you on one hand and for your landlord on the other hand to see an attorney. Your interests are now adverse one to the other.

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  • Are any type of monetary judgments awarded in housing court other than rent arrears?

    I'm a residential landlord in a holdover case and my tenant has to remove an illegal structure he built to cure. If the tenant refuses to cure and is evicted, can I get a monetary judgment against the tenant for the cost to remove it in housing co...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Bronx Property Owner:

    No. Housing Court generally does not have jurisdiction to award money judgments for injury to a person, an injury or damage to real property, an injury or damage to real property.

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  • My landlord mistakenly gave me my housemates sublet, the contract is already signed, can he terminate it or am i protected?

    My landlord told me he had found someone to take over my lease and sent me a sublease agreement, me and the new tenant signed and dated it. A couple days after one of the girls who also was trying to find someone to sublease her spot in the house ...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Cortland Tenant:

    If you and your housemate are tenants named on the lease, then both tenants are required to sublet the entire leased premises. New York does not recognize the concept of subletting rooms contained within in one apartment. New York allows a tenant to take in a roommate and the state-wide law allowing for a roommate does not allow the landlord any say so in that decision. When a lease has two or more tenants, and one tenant leaves, the other tenant may select a roommate of her choice. Again, this does not involve the landlord. If both tenants are moving out and the same time, neither may have a roommate and they cannot sublease the apartment.

    You and your co-tenant and landlord have signed papers that do not seem to have any relation to current New York law allowing for subletting and for roommates.

    You will need to see a local lawyer to help determine if you and your co-tenant are going about moving out from the home in a proper manner.

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  • Can landlord ask me to sign parking rider after original lease has been already signed?

    Lease expired on 6/30/15. Renewal lease was signed on 6/10/15. Parking rider was not initially included in lease. New lease effective 7-1/15. Landlord has not returned renewal lease with their signature. As of 7/30/15 Landlord is now asking for ad...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Long Island City Tenant:

    Your lease alone controls your tenancy rights as apparently your tenancy is not protected by Rent Stabilization. Ordinarily, parking permission derives from a separate agreement. You have a choice to accept or not to accept.

    You may wish to allow a lawyer to review your original lease and parking rider and the renewal lease and the new parking rider offered to you since the actual documents should provide the answer you require about maintaining or giving up parking rights.

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  • Lodger

    6 weeks ago I had a nanny move in. She was going to babysit and pay some rent. It took 5 weeks for her to pay 1st months rent and now over a week late with this months rent. Always has an excuse. She has also stopped babysitting and got a new job ...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Lake Grove Home Owner:

    This is a big problem. Your now unwanted former nanny has a legal right by New York law to stay in your house, without working for you, until you win a case in your local Landlord and Tenant Court. And, today was the last day in July to serve a tenancy termination notice. Now, the notice you serve in August will not end the no lease month to month tenancy until September 30, 2015. You could not start your holdover proceeding until October.

    If you just sue for not paying rent, she could raise all sorts of defenses such as she is an employee, or, pay the rent and your remain with her in your house.

    Go see a local lawyer as soon as possible.Had you done so yesterday, you could have served the tenancy termination notice today and so ended the tenancy on August 31.

    Considering the fact you have children in the house, your lawyer may suggest you give this person money to get out of your house now.

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