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Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Smollens’s Answers

8,005 total

  • Can I get any relocation benefits for moving out from an illegal apartment? (Similar to NJ 6 months rent law?)

    I've been living in this single family home without any problem for the last 10 months. Yesterday my landlord showed up with a 30 day notice that I need to leave. Reason? The attic that I'm renting is illegal. He rents the whole house to different...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear White Plains Tenant:

    Two adjacent States each with a daunting problem that landlords choose to profit from the business of illegal rentals. New Jersey chose a legislative remedy to help dampen the enthusiasm of making money from illegal dwellings and New York did not. The New York approach to the problem is to deprive the landlord in only some instances of a right to sue for unpaid rent while also depriving the tenant of a right to recover rent already paid. In New York a tenant is lucky to recover the security deposit.

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  • Suing your landlord for tresspass

    While on vacation our landlord allowed an open house for brokers and new tenants. Landlord did this without informing us and was aware that the as per the terms of the lease this was clearly not allowed. This is an invasion of privacy and a violat...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Dix Hills Tenant:

    You had the right to declare the landlord breached the lease since the trespass was a wrongful act arguably in the nature of an actual eviction. Your remedy would involve moving out and ending the rent obligation due to the breach of lease.

    If you did not do so a lawsuit based on the trespass is not likely to secure enough money to compensate you and your lawyer.

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  • Do tenants get interest from paying 12 months in advance or from the 1-month security deposit for an apartment in Harlem, NY?

    I am going to pay 12 months upfront + 1 month deposit to sign a lease for an apartment in Harlem, New York City.

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Manhattan Tenant:

    Unless the lease requires that the rent paid in advance earns interest no law in NY requires a landlord set up a special interest earning bank account for advance rent.

    In buildings with six or more apartments the landlord must deposit into an interest earning account.

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  • Modeling Agency wants to rent my 3 family home for model housing, does this make it an illegal SRO or hotel?

    They have stated they want to put in bunk beds, it's six bedrooms total, so maybe that would be 12 models. I am wary because of the international fraternity vibe, but they are offering over market and want to use all units. It does sound good th...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Brooklyn Homeowner:

    Not legal to convert a legal three family into a transient dormitory.

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  • I live in NYC in a nice neighborhood. Can my building raise my rent by $1000 before lease renewal?

    I took over a leasebreak and have lived here for 5 months. Now they wanna raise my rent by 1000$ for renewal. It's currently 3,432 for a 1 bedroom which is already a lot of money.

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    If the apartment is not Rent Stabilized the landlord may choose to offer a new lease at any rent; even $1000 more than the current rent.

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  • 2-family house and I do not live in the house is a building registration required? Tenant union lawyer thinks so.

    I started my own non-payment proceeding, nothing unusual - I have done a few over the years. The tenant's union lawyer sent me an anser with counter claims and they say that because a registration statement is required, the eviction has to be dism...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Brooklyn Property Owner:

    You must register the legal two family house with HPD. The petition in the nonpayment case must state the fact that the premises is located within a two family dwelling duly registered with the Office of Code Enforcement (NYC HPD).

    Look at your petition and review the "registration" paragraph. You may have an opportunity to register now and seek to amend the petition. You cannot withdraw on your own volition since the tenant answered and counterclaimed.

    You may consider this matter requires you engage an attorney.

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    JUST WANTED TOP LAWYER one that will fight

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Rochester Resident:

    I gather the group giving you the run a round is answering attorneys on AVVO. Try this instead. Get in touch with a local gun rights advocacy organization such as the Sporting and Defensive Firearms Academy, LLC, at

    The lawyers in your city also have legal training in gun advocacy and you could contact the Rochester Bar Association for a referral.

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  • Should i seek out an attorney regarding a lawsuit from my apartment complex?

    I owed back rent to an apartment complex back in December. I made agreements with their attorneys in court as to what i would pay back. I defaulted on the payments and moved out. The attorneys for them sent me a letter regarding this back in Janua...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Syracuse Tenant:

    I suggest you do not make contact with the attorneys for your former landlord. You may make the mistake of settling again without protecting your own legal interest. If you cannot afford an attorney try Legal Aid.

    The former landlord may not need a new lawsuit (Summons and Complaint; that is new court papers) if the Settlement Stipulation made in the nonpayment case already provided for the entry of a money judgment in the event of your default in paying or as part of the settlement. You should allow an attorney to help determine whether the former landlord already has a judgment ripe for collection, or must now initiate a new legal claim.

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  • Am I required to pay rent for the month after I move out?

    I gave my landlord 7 days notice. I know that's very short HOWEVER I was told if I didn't take the new place on the first of the month it would go to the next person in line. It took until 7 days before that to get approved for the complex. I had ...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Buffalo Tenant:

    New York State law allows a month to month tenant the right to end a tenancy by providing the landlord a one month notice (thirty day notice in NYC only) and so, a notice made in July would end the tenancy on August 31 (no matter when the tenant moved out) and a notice made in June would end the tenancy on July 31 (no matter when the tenant moved out.) New York law builds in a full month of rent due for the last month no matter when the tenant made the notice.

    The reason you moved out is because you had another apartment to move to; not because your landlord badly neglected the apartment. You had the right to end the month to month tenancy at any time based on the landlord's failure to perform but you did so only when you had somewhere else to move into.

    A New York State month to month tenant has very few legal rights. A tenant is entitled at all times to a habitable home due to the Statutory Warranty of Habitability. A tenant with a lease and so a long term commitment to remain in the home traditionally invokes the Warranty of Habitability by withholding rent after providing written notice to the landlord listing the conditions that require repair and waiting a short period for the landlord to fail to deal with the problems. A month to month tenant provides the same notice to the landlord and then ends the tenancy by providing the one month notice and moving out.

    The tenant may need to defend the landlord's lawsuit for the one month rent not paid before moving out, and the tenant may claim as a defense the breach by the landlord of the Warranty of Habitability. The tenant may also counterclaim for a judgment for every month that the tenant paid rent in full and the landlord did not provide a habitable home. Even with an abatement of not more than 10% per cent of the monthly rent, a tenant may prove a one month abatement for the last year the tenant paid monthly rent in full.

    Your "legal" obligations to the landlord would end by providing the one month notice. It is not relevant when the landlord finds a new tenant since your tenancy was "good" for that last month even if you moved out in advance of the month. But the next move is the landlord's to make. Hopefully, before he plays his hand you will have lined up your attorney.

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  • Can I demand a refund of my security deposit before I leave rented premises?

    No unpaid rent or damage. The only damage my landlord reported is scratched pots which fall under "normal wear and tear". I don't trust her at all so can I demand my security deposit before I leave the apartment? When I signed the security deposit...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    Did you rent a furnished apartment? If so, depending on the length of your tenancy and conditions of pots and pans when you moved in, it would seem that the "damage"l to pots and pans is within the notion of ordinary use.

    New York State does not have a statute stating a precise period for return of a tenant security deposit. NY law does not commit a landlord to conduct a walk through inspection ahead of moving out.

    You and your landlord created a unique contract and left out a critical item: when to return the balance of the security deposit.

    No law prevents you making a demand for the entire security deposit and no law specifically forces the landlord to return the deposit before you move out.

    Make a written demand for the entire security and provide a date. If the landlord does not return the security you are in the same position as most other tenants with a need to use Small Claims Court.

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