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Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Smollens’s Answers

8,020 total


  • NYC Maximum Six-Month Stay - Start Date?

    A NYC judge can give maximum of 6 months to the tenant to move, according to http://www.courts.state.ny.us/courts/nyc/housing/staysafterjudg_holdover.shtml#maxstay My question is: Is it from the commencement of the case, or the date the d...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Brooklyn Tenant:

    The tenant must make the request for the stay allowed by New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law Section 753 (1), when the court determines the underlying entitlement of the landlord to a judgment for possession in a residential holdover proceeding. See: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/RPA/7/753

    The statute is complex, the stay is rarely ever made for the maximum of the discretionary stay at the time the Court determines the terms and conditions for the stay (in order to leave some extra time in case the tenant could not locate a new home within the period first provided [for example: the court may provide two months initially or three for the tenant to move out, and so, should the tenant return to court before the stay runs out with a need for some more time, the Court may then extend the initial stay for one or two more months ] as long as the entire potential six month period is not consumed).

    The key to the tenant gaining the stay in the initial instance is proof of a diligent good faith search for a new home as described in the statute and of course paying the landlord for every month the tenant remains in possession after the judgment. The post judgment proceedings for the stay is time consuming unless the landlord consents to an initial stay on terms and conditions that satisfy the court and do not offend the landlord. Otherwise, the tenant must prove entitlement to the stay, as provided in the statute.

    It is not a good plan for a tenant considering the potential need to seek this stay to wait until the conclusion of a trial to first start the search for a new home.

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  • Is it the executor's responsibility to tell the landlord a tenant has died?

    During a conversation with the executor of our aunt's will I asked about the landlord and how long the "estate" had to clear out her belongings. The executor of our aunt's will told us he had spoken with the landlord and we had 30 days. Not five m...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Next of Kin:

    Someone with legal authority is designated in your Aunt's will to act for the Estate and that person is the Executor. The next rent payment will come from the bank account established by the Executor. So whether any one needs to inform the landlord in some formal manner becomes moot on August 1. A rent check from the Executor account is clear notice the tenant passed away. If the tenant was Rent Controlled the tenancy ended by operation of law on her passing. Generally, that limits the time to remove possessions and surrender the apartment to one month. If the tenant was Rent Stabilized, the lease continues as property of the Estate until the lease expires by its own terms.

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  • Landlord holding deposit (two months' rent) after move out for 30+ days; is not responding to requests

    Lived in apt for 3 years, moved out 6/24 (lease end 6/30). Landlord's initial inspection stated no major damage other than oven. I damaged oven by scraping too hard and eroded coating; agreed to help replacement. A week later landlord ...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    New York State does not have a law that sets a firm deadline for a landlord to return a security deposit. You have significant money in play. If you sue in Small Claims Court you immediately cede $1500 to the landlord. You may consider allowing an attorney to review copies of your written demands for the refund of your money.

    Your concern about a BS counterclaim when you lose $1500 right away if you sue in Small Claims Court may be worth discussing as you discount some of the other damage to the apartment as normal wear and tear. Leaving the apartment in the condition you described when also damaging an oven so that a replacement is the only fix suggests you may have underestimated the potential claim the landlord may have against your $6500 deposit.

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  • When i report my bicycle stolen & i know the person trespassed can i file restraining order against this person to stay away ?

    this person has continued to remove my bicycle off the property I live in I had it in the kitchen she continuously put it back outside for it to be stolen after I report her for stealing it off the property where I live, I have cameras in the hous...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Freeport Tenant:

    I answered another question you posted tonight. You could find a way to chain the bicycle so that the owner's ex does not continue to remove the bike from the kitchen. Is the kitchen the only place in this house you could store the bicycle? You must have a room as your son. How many other people not related to you live in this house? The owner may be in violation of local laws prohibiting conversion of a private home into a rooming house. You want to be sure you are not risking bringing law enforcement to the house if it is not legal for unrelated persons to rent individual rooms in a private residence.

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  • Is it better to create a LLC to do Airbnb business, for either liability or tax reasons?

    I am ready to start an apt rental business via Airbnb in NYC (I've done it before), renting out apts for 30 days and more at a time so it's legal. I have a few questions would like to have some intelligent answers: 1. Is my assumption c...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    Every effort to do what you plan to do as far as I know has not worked. You could check the Airbnb investigation of private entities marketing rented residential apartments at the New York State Attorney General.See: http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/08/22/airbnb-to-out-124-hosts-to-new-york-attorney-general/

    You are correct, regardless of a lease containing a contrary term, all New York residential tenants in buildings with at least four apartments are legally allowed to sublease an apartment for two years out of any four year period, conditioned on securing the advance written consent of the landlord as set out in New York Real Property Law section 226-b. See: http://law.onecle.com/new-york/real-property/RPP0226-B_226-B.html

    NYC landlords are now on guard to reject short term rentals when requested by a residential tenant. In any case, nearly every request to sublease takes at least thirty days to achieve approval and requires a fully executed and acknowledged sublease signed by the tenant and proposed subtenant when presented to the landlord for approval. I do not know how you could do this in an apartment where you are a tenant.

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  • How can I find out who is the new owner and management co.of a building I have been living in for 32 years in New York City?

    I have lived in a New York City private owned project based apartment for 32 years, 2014 the property was sold and as a tenant I had to find out in my research.The former owner claims that the property was repurchased by them, and they are still...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    You could look up the identity of the deed owner at ACRIS. Follow the menu prompts for entering the address for the building (search is conducted by the city system for assignment of real property known as Block and Lot) so entering the address yields the Block and Lot and then Search the Block and Lot. The latest recorded deed shows the last transfer from the owner you knew to the new entity.

    Start ACRIS here: http://a836-acris.nyc.gov/CP/

    Click on Find Addresses and Parcels. This is where you enter the building information (drop down menu for Borough) and building number and Street address. That provides the Block and Lot at bottom of page. You may want to print that page for future use. Then search. On a line where you see a Deed, click on img and you will have a chance to view the deed. Be aware this application relies on Java and will not work without the latest version of Java installed. Print the deed. Select all pages such as 1-7 1-3 however long, and that is the last transaction from the former owner to the current owner.

    Entity names may be individuals, corporations, LLCs or something else. If the entity is a corporation or LLC you could enter that name in the search name box at: http://www.dos.ny.gov/corps/bus_entity_search.html

    When you enter the name the search engine produces results with only a partial name. So if for example the entity is 777 West End Ave Corp entering only 777 West may produce a list of results while entering 777 West End Ave Corp. may yield a no result for the entered name due to adding a period to Corp In any case when you do hit the name of the entity identified on the Deed, that will reveal where the entity "exists".

    Some other investigation you could do on your own. Look at your lease. Determine if the lease indicates the apartment is subject to Rent Stabilization or not subject to Rent Stabilization. The landlord and owner do not need to be identical. A building owner may lease an entire building to another entity that has the right to lease individual apartments. If the building is a co-op and you own your apartment then you should have a Proprietary Lease.

    Your building may have enough tenants to have a Tenants Association. If so, you may likely find out what you need to know by discussing with a neighbor.

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  • Selling a home with a leased tenant in Queens New York

    What are my rights as a landlord in selling a home that has a leased tenant. There is a year left on the lease. It is a standard Blumberg lease form and has no clause regarding sale of the property. Would the next owner have to keep th...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Jamaica Home Owner:

    You need a purchaser ready to assume the remainder of the tenant's lease. The tenancy will continue if you sell but you need to contract with a buyer willing to defer taking over the personal use of the house for another year.

    You may discover this lease has a negative impact on the selling price and that the house has better value if you could deliver a deed without an existing tenancy. You and your lawyer may consider when dealing with a potential purchaser that the price to buy out the remainder of the tenant's lease may be worth doing for a significant gain in the selling price.

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  • Can I sue a landlord for knowingly leasing a "haunted apartment"?

    My family began to experience paranormal activities that escalated over time from 6 months after we moved in until we finally left a year and half later. We experienced several documented health issues with no causes found, always developed new il...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Richton Park Tenant:

    I am an attorney licensed in New York State. I do not practice law in Illinois.

    Your paranormal experiences and the ill health feelings you and your family suffer, as well as your guests suggests you inhabit a very sick and illness inducing house. Your experiences are well known side-effects of exposure to toxins within a home environment.

    See: http://xzonenation.blogspot.com/2010/02/paranormal-black-mold-connection.html

    http://hauntedamericatours.com/haunted/PARANORMALHEALTHRISKS.php

    So your landlord may be liable for renting a sick home, but not likely responsible for renting a haunted house.

    See: http://www.thefrisky.com/2015-04-06/ghost-sightings-could-just-be-hallucinations-caused-by-mold-say-researchers/
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3022735/Seen-ghost-inhaled-toxic-mould-Poor-air-quality-old-buildings-lead-haunting-hallucinations.html
    http://blackmold.awardspace.com/black-mold-toxic-stachybotrys-mycotoxins.html

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  • Can a Petition in a Holdover case request "no stay" as part of the final judgement?

    In the final paragraph of the Petition it outlines the requests for final judgement. Can the petition request that the judge grant "no stay" resulting in immediate possession of the apartment?

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Petitioner:

    The controlling statute (NY Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law Section 749) already provides for the issuing of a warrant at the time of judgment. Other statutes mandate a five day stay in issuing a warrant in a nonpayment proceeding in NYC (747-a). Another statute allows for a stay for up to six months if requested by the tenant in a holdover proceeding (753(1)) Another statute provides for a ten day stay in issuing a warrant when a summary holdover proceeding is based on a breach of lease (753(4)).

    No one obtains immediate possession of the apartment even when the court issues a warrant "forthwith" with no stay of execution. In most court houses in NYC the actual physical delivery of an eviction warrant to a City Marshal or to the Sheriff still takes a few weeks.

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  • I AM A RENTER IN FREEPORT HOUSE AND MY LANDLORDS EX WIFE TOOK MY SONS BICYCLE WITHOUT NOTICE OUT OF THE KITCHEN & OUTSIDE

    SHE DID NOT WARN ME AND PLACED MY SONS BICYLE OUTSIDE WHERE IT CAN BE STOLEN. I PUT IT BACK IN. THENSHE SENT SOMEONE ELSE TO TAKE IT OUT. WHAT IS THE PROPER WAY TO HANDLE THIS. IASKED THAT SHE CALL ME AND SHE REFUSES. EMAILS WAS SENT TO HER AN...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Freeport Tenant:

    What relation does the landlord's ex-spouse have with the house you rent? If she has no connection to the property, her entry into your home and taking property is a burglary, a trespass, and a breach of lease.

    Inform your landlord that his former spouse is breaking into your home and removing your property.

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