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Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Smollens’s Answers

8,925 total


  • Can the prime lease holder of a sublet I'm in, enter the apartment whenever he wants and am I obligated to let him in?

    I'm currently living in a sublet. The prime lease holder is harassing me about paying earlier and now about paying with cashier checks instead of personal checks which I refuse. I'm also positive that I may be in an illegal sublet. When I mentione...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    If you have a legitimate sublease, the lease itself informs you that you have exclusive possession of the apartment for the duration of the tenancy. Any entry by the prime tenant that is beyond one contemplated by the lease is a trespass, a breach of the lease and a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Your prime tenant cannot alter the method for paying rent or insist on one way to pay rent over any other legal method to pay rent.

    You should consider the need now to hire a lawyer.

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  • Can i hold his things like a mechanics lean? has a bailment been created? could i be held criminally liable for theft?

    I rent out a room in my house. at the end of December I discovered that my tenant of a month to month had moved out most of his things. when i confronted him, he stated he had left a week ago; he stated that he owed me nothing for the month of Jan...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Plattsburgh Property Owner:

    So if you remain lucky, the police will not go after you for an illegal eviction. In New York State (other than in NYC) with a month to month tenancy, either the landlord or the tenant may perform the act to end the tenancy, by giving to the other side, a one month notice, that the month to month tenancy is over. When the tenant makes that notice, the tenant must move out before the start of the next rent month or the tenant becomes liable to the landlord for paying double rent. When the landlord gives the notice and the tenant does not move out, the landlord's only legal remedy is to go after the tenant in the local Landlord and Tenant Court in a summary holdover proceeding. Evicting the tenant without a court proceeding after giving a one month notice is an unlawful eviction. The landlord may become liable to the tenant for triple damages.

    If I correctly gather the facts of your tenant problem, your tenant moved out without providing you the required one month advance notice to end the month to month tenancy. That stealthy move left the tenant responsible for rent for January just as though the tenant did not move out. As long as the tenant remained liable for the rent, for that month, and had not even fully moved out, changing the locks caused an actual full (but illegal) eviction to occur. Doing so, made you liable to the tenant for damages.

    Now, you could have provided on your own the required one month notice as soon as you found out the tenant moved without giving you notice. Had you done so, as the law contemplated, you would have no right at all to change the locks until a sheriff comes around to execute an eviction warrant after you brought your case to court.

    I suggest you find a lawyer now and try to avoid risk of damages or an arrest from an unlawful eviction.

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  • Tenant help for New York City apartment.

    I am moving into a new apartment with friends but my name will not be on the lease, rather i am a tenant. What are my rights and what should or should I not sign before doing this? I want the option for someone else to replace me if necessary whic...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    The landlord decides who is a tenant and that person signs a lease. As a roommate, you have virtually no rights at all in relation to the use of the apartment other than what you and the tenants agree on. If you do not have a written agreement with the tenants they may ask you to move out at any time with a thirty day notice. As a roommate, you have no relation with the landlord. The tenants will not agree with you that you could "replace" your self. As a roommate, when you are of a mind to leave you have no obligation to find a replacement and the tenants alone usually decide who becomes a roommate.

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  • Am I responsible for any late fees?

    I'm subletting an apartment. If I pay late, am I responsible for any fees? My sublet agreement does not talk about any late fees. The original lease mentions late fees but the lease holder isn't being charged a late fee because they actually overp...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    A court rarely will support a claim for a late fee only. So if demanded from you, and you do not pay, there is not much risk, unless the tenant resorts to illegal self-help and steals from your security deposit. And, generally, when a lease agreement does not express a late fee, the "landlord" has no claim at all for a late fee.

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  • Can I get my security deposit back without giving 30 days notice in NYC?

    I was renting one bedroom in a three bedroom apartment on a month-to-month basis for three years in NYC. I rented from another person who lived there - not the owner but another tenant who collected my rent, deposited it in his bank account, then...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    Based on your information, your last month of rent is paid in full, the room you rented is in move-in condition, you have not forfeited your security deposit. BUT. Who deposited your security check? Did the security go into a separate trust account for tenant security deposit, or right into the person's pocket? Most people in your circumstance loss their security. The person who took your money refuses to make a return, for whatever reason and most tenants who lose their security this way are too sensitive about the investment of time in making a lawsuit in Small Claims Court to recover the money.

    BTW. In a three bedroom apartment with one tenant named on the lease the tenant is entitled to one roommate only. In a three bedroom apartment with two tenants on the lease, no roommate is allowed unless of the two tenants permanently vacated the apartment.

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  • Can I get my security deposit back without giving 30 days notice in NYC?

    I was renting one bedroom in a three bedroom apartment on a month-to-month basis for three years in NYC. I rented from another person who lived there - not the owner but another tenant who collected my rent, deposited it in his bank account, then ...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    Based on your information, your last month of rent is paid in full, the room you rented is in move-in condition, you have not forfeited your security deposit. BUT. Who deposited your security check? Did the security go into a separate trust account for tenant security deposit, or right into the person's pocket? Most people in your circumstance loss their security. The person who took your money refuses to make a return, for whatever reason and most tenants who lose their security this way are too sensitive about the investment of time in making a lawsuit in Small Claims Court to recover the money.

    BTW. In a three bedroom apartment with one tenant named on the lease the tenant is entitled to one roommate only. In a three bedroom apartment with two tenants on the lease, no roommate is allowed unless of the two tenants permanently vacated the apartment.

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  • What can I do or should do?

    I been a tenant for 23yrs where I live. My lease expires Feb. 28 2016, I hv not yet received to renewal the lease. I called the company 3 weeks ago then one week ago, now today, and I was told new people are handling it, THT it will be sent, not o...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    If you are a Rent Stabilized tenant, and your landlord is late (that is did not make the offer 150-90 days ahead of the end of the lease, do not trust that the renewal lease will come (it may very well come) file a complaint the landlord did not offer the renewal lease. See: https://www.legal-aid.org/media/181001/kyr_lease_renewal_en.pdf

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  • How do I know if my counsel is no longer representing me?

    My counsel told me out contract is done when there was a judges decision. However. I would like to move on with the case to appeal it. Can I find out from housing court or do I contact the opposing lawyer? Thank You

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    As long as you have an attorney the landlord's attorney is prohibited from communicating with you.

    Go down to the court. Look up your file. Read and then copy the judge's decision/order.

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  • Can someone sublet an apartment for more money than the actual lease in stuytown?

    I know rent stabilized apartments can't be sublet for more money than the lease nut can a non rent stabilized apartment in stuytown be sublet for more than the actual rent? I know they're little more strict but cant find a straight answer. When I...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Stuyvesant Town Tenant:

    Why not inquire at your Tenant's Association? A tenant of a market rate apartment, has no certainty the landlord would consider to offer a new or a renewal lease upon the expiration of the current lease. It is likely should you find a chance to profit on your fair-market rental, the landlord would simply decline to consent, and force you out from your home when the current lease expires.

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  • How much will a lawyer charge to create an eviction notice?

    Just want an estimate or range. What are some factors that will make it cost more/less? Thanks.

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Property Owner:

    A lawyer does not create an eviction notice. That is a form employed by an NYC Marshal after a judgment in the landlord's summary proceeding.

    What do you want to do?

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