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Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Smollens’s Answers

8,579 total

  • Do I need to appear in Housing court for a Holdover case to answer a notice of petition and petition if I hire an attorney?

    1. If I pay an attorney, can the attorney just file a notice of appearance and answer for me? 2. Can the attorney enter into a stipulation of settlement without me ever going to Housing Court?

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Flushing Tenant:

    This is a matter between you and your attorney. When a tenant hires an attorney, depending on the terms of the agreement, the lawyer may prepare a full-blown written answer, or a mere notice of appearance, and a generic general denial form of answer. The willingness of the client to invest in the lawsuit and to fund litigation is the driving engine for the time and work performed by the attorney. Based on your information, you seem unwilling to participate in a full defense of your tenancy. In this situation, I would expect the attorney would be unwilling to enter into a settlement without your signature. That does not mean you need to go to court, since an attorney may negotiate a stipulation for you with the other side, prepare a written agreement and obtain your signature and file, without you needing to go to court. So work this out with youir lawyer.

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  • Management refused to rent a bigger apartment. Can it be any legal action made? Please see details.

    We are family of 2 adults & 10mo baby, subleasing a small studio apt in Forest Hills. Through real estate agency we found a 1bdr apt by the same mgmt company. Our subtenant was fine with a 30-day notice of intent to vacate eff. Dec.15, but that 1b...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Forest Hills Tenant:

    Perhaps I did not understand your statement. If I may, and please post a comment if I misunderstood. You are a current tenant of a studio apartment. The lease did not expire. You sublet that apartment (with the landlord's permission, yes?) and moved to a larger apartment to accommodate your larger family. You discovered a one-bedroom apartment to rent as a tenant, and by bad fortune the landlord is the same as for the studio apartment. You are wiling to give up the studio apartment, but the lease is not over, and so, the landlord declined your application to rent the one-bedroom apartment.

    Generally, a rent stabilized tenant may not have two apartments at the same time. As long as the lease did not end for the studio apartment, the landlord chose to hold you to the terms of that lease rather than lose the rent for the remainder of the lease on the studio while renting a new apartment to you. Based on your information the landlord did not violate a law. You cannot abandon one lease in favor of another, and make the other side absorb a loss for your benefit. You would be in a better position had your broker found a new apartment with a different landlord.

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  • Can a NYC Co-Op simply decide not to accept maintenance from a shareholder?

    Our Co-Op Managing Agent decided that it would no longer accept my maintenance payments via ACH electronic deposit because the Board president has sued me. Ergo, I've been declared behind in my maintenance and ineligible to vote in the election. N...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear NYC Shareholder:

    An AVVO answering attorney cannot provide direct legal advice since this forum does not provide for creation of an attorney and client relation. But if you and others who think like you get together and figure out that you may be able to vote in a new board and so hire a new managing agent, then paying by check until you take over the board would seem a sound choice at this time.

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  • Can an eviction proceed in court if the tenant has already voluntarily vacated after being served with notice to vacate?

    The landlord has sent a Notice to Vacate on by September 30th and subsequently file an eviction holdover case on November 6th with a court date of November 23rd. If the tenant has already left the premises voluntarily, can the eviction proceeding...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Landlord:

    The plain language of the form petition states the tenant holds over and remains in possession of the premises after expiration of the time provided in the tenancy termination notice, or words to that effect. The essence of the possessory proceeding is the landlord needing a court judgment as to entitlement to legal possession because the tenant will not voluntarily move and restore the landlord to possession.

    If the tenant was in possession when you verified the petition, filed the petition and purchased the index number, and subsequently you accepted a surrender and the keys and the tenant voluntarily moved out. you are not compelled to serve the notice of petition and petition.

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  • Can a man in his private property make his personal rule illegal as the real official law for visitors? Like no juice after 9pm?

    Can a man in his private property make his personal rule illegal as the real official law for visitors? Like no juice after 9pm? Would it be illegal if I do drink juice after 9pm? Or is it just against only his personal rule (in his personal prope...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Juice Drinker:

    What is going on with all the questions about hair scratching, juice drinking, and killing your guests? Did you grow up in a house? Did your parents make rules? Did they ask you agree before enforcing the rules? If you do not want a guest to drink juice after 9 PM, your guest will pick up and leave, because who would want to spend more time with a cranky home owning despot? Sure, you could make all the silly rules you want and your guests and friends could choose to hang out some where else.

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  • Who should do the maintenance for gas furnace in a condo? Tenant or landlord?

    I have a lease for a condo in NYC which I moved in 8 months ago. Gas furnace was not working when I fist moved in so a technician repaired it and landlord paid for it. I only used it for a month in April. My gas furnace broke down recently again. ...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Condo Tenant:

    The lease should address this issue. Some forms of condominium lease require the tenant maintain the appliances provided by the landlord. The lease likely did not preserve your move-in observations about the furnace and probably provides all appliances were working and the apartment was rented in an "as is" condition.

    There are bizarre exceptions to the warranty of habitability when heat or hot water are not made by a central heat and hot water system. Many tenants occupy apartment where a single machine provides heat fresh air and air conditioning. While the landlord provides the apparatus for making heat, the tenant must pay for the electricity to run the machine. Essentially, a landlord in that circumstance satisfies the warranty of habitability by providing the heating unit and the tenant could choose to freeze by not running the heat and a hefty electric bill. In a condominium as between the condo and unit owner there is no warranty of habitability. There is a warranty with the unit owner and a tenant. But like tenants who are provided HVAC units, maintenance of the furnace may be the tenant obligation. So check your lease.

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  • Can a man in his private property make something illegal by the actual laws for a visitor? Like making scratching hair illegal?

    Can a man in his private property make something illegal by the actual laws for a visitor? Like making scratching hair illegal? The question is that, if I am in his property & he makes it a rule that no one should scratch their head, would it be i...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Head Scratcher:

    It is worse than a law. Since a law requires the action of elected legislators and a state governor, or local legislators and a mayor or supervisor. Those laws are subject to review in a court, and law enforcement officers such as police and prosecuting attorneys. Inside a person's home, the "law" of the home reverts back to the time of monarchs. It is known as home rule or rules of the house. The home owner is the final arbiter of a breach of the home rules as well as the only person with power to make and declare and enforce the rules of the house. A guest is tolerated as long as the home owner decides to do so. If you wish to be persona non grate, go ahead and scratch. If you want to be welcome, go outside to scratch.

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  • Personation, Identity Theft, Identity Fraud laws are only for pretending to be specific someone existing & taking profit, right?

    Personation, Identity Theft, Identity Fraud laws are only for pretending to be specific someone existing & taking profit, right? My question is about the difference between pretending to be someone specific VS giving false personal information. I ...

    Steven’s Answer

    Many people exaggerated their job experience, education and past positions; none ended well. The essence of your scheme is to be your own impostor by lying about yourself. That is fraud because at some time if you are good at deception you will con a person or business and commit a crime.

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  • Non-payment eviction

    I have one year lease with my tenants. I had repeat called demand rent over due payment, I had also served 4 days pay rent or quit. I want to know how much you charge for non-payment eviction in Staten Island New York? And how long it takes for te...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Staten Island Property Owner:

    New York Housing Court provides free online and in the courthouse forms and "help" for certain small property owners, including how to do it your self.

    The New York rent demand is a three day notice. Unless the lease required more notice there is no form for a four day notice.

    Use the AVVO search for attorney in Staten Island. Many SI attorneys do L&T work in Richmond Housing Court.

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