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Steven Warren Smollens
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Steven Smollens’s Answers

9,682 total


  • Tenant

    I'm a landlord and I think a prospective tenant gave me false financial information. My options?

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Property Owner:

    Do not make an offer of a lease if an applicant to rent gave false information.

    See question 
  • Can I start a holdover while a nonpayment judgment and warrant is on appeal with a stay of all proceedings pending appeal?

    I inherited a tenant that stopped paying his rent. I did a nonpayment action and received a money judgment and warrant of eviction. The tenant appealed to the higher appellate court and received a stay pending appeal and has to pay use and occupan...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Plainview Property Owner:

    It would be the same local court. Why did the tenant secure a stay? What is the basis for the holdover proceeding?

    Conceivably, if you have a ground for a holdover why would you bog yourself down in defending an appeal in a nonpayment case where you have risk of losing.

    I am changing the topic to Landlord and Tenant.

    See question 
  • Neighbors keep following were ever I move

    I lived in a building before and there were problems with the neighbors who would smoke weed and all the smell would go to my apartment. Also one day they yelled that they were going to hurt my mother so I decided to try and put a restraining orde...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear New York Tenant:

    Why would the landlord's daughter listen to anyone showing up at four in the morning to slander you rather than call the cops to arrest your stalker who feels the need to wake up a stranger in the middle of the night?

    I believe tnis is a law enforcement matter. I do not see how you could initiate a lawsuit.

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  • What legal action can I take if my landlord/apartment management has shut off gas to the entire building without notice?

    My two roommates and I moved into an apartment in Brooklyn, New York about two months ago. Nearly a week after move in, our gas was shut off in the entire building (other tenants affected as well) because the provider found illegal piping in the b...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Brooklyn Tenant:

    Waiting until you move out to claim your right to a rent abatement owed to you because the landlord breached the New York Statutory Warranty of Habitability, imposes limitations. You can no longer self-collect by withholding rent, and so Housing Court is off the table for you.

    If you measure your damages, including your out-of-pocket losses caused by the landlord's failure to provide you with a functioning kitchen, at $5,000.00 or less, you could use Small Claims Court. You are forced to use a summons and complaint in Civil Court if you measure your damages up to $25,000.00.

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  • We just Got a 72 hour eviction notice. Can we get a week extension if we have kids?

    I was laid off from work and fell behind on rent. Went to court and lost of course. I have 2 small stepdaughterss can u still get a small stay or extension?

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Port Jefferson Tenant:

    I apologize for answering your second question first. So you went to court and of course lost.

    Did you seek public assistance to pay the rent you owed? Did you try to secure an attorney at Nassau Suffolk Law Services or from another Legal Aid or Legal Services attorney?

    Sure you could try on your own to stop this eviction. But don't count on doing so without a lawyer helping you. If you can't secure an order to show cause on your own, if you cannot secure the free attorney now if you cannot secure an emergency grant of public assistance then do not wait for the eviction. Get out with your possessions safely in your own control.

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  • Can I get a short stay in ny after getting a 72 hour notice?

    I was laid off for 2 months and fell behind on rent. I have my fiance and 2 kids and have nowhere to go. Need advice quickly.

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Port Jefferson Station Tenant:

    Your question implied that the first you learned that your landlord wanted to evict you was just now when you received the 72 Hour Notice. Is this so? If yes, then you were not able to defend the landlord's underlying nonpayment proceeding. You should have first received a Rent Demand (when you could have sought emergency public assistance because you have small children. And you did not have a chance to defend your tenancy when the lawsuit began if you did not receive the notice of petition and petition.

    Either get to Legal Services or to court on your own. If you were not served with the underlying lawsuit the landlord secured the right to evict you without due process.

    See question 
  • Can someone pull survelience on me?

    Hi i live in depew ny and this lady across the street has a video camera on me and keeps telling my land lord lies about me that im hanging out with druggies and such i actually am a us army veteran and its gone as far my landlord almost kicked me...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Depew Tenant:

    In our "open" society civilian neighborhood monitors fulfill espionage fantasies pouring money into spy gear and becoming snoops on neighbors. As long as the camera is aimed at the outside of your home and the video captured of you is when you are outside the home, like the police and their three cameras, your nosy neighbor's delusions of grandeur, are not considered an invasion of privacy.

    In the modern USA the world at large is not entitled to believe that there exists a right to privacy when outside in plain sight.

    But lying to the police or to your landlord presents issues. You may sue the neighbor if you could prove the slander. But that may not stop the activity. You could hire an attorney to send a cease and desist letter. If the video continues but without any more conversations about you with your landlord based on the observations, that is the best you could hope for.

    Your landlord believes the surveillance is for his benefit, and he expects to hear from the neighbor if she has something to say. So unless your landlord has her end this practice, you will not stop her watching you and lying without a court order. You will need proof the behavior is subject to an injunction from a court. Right now, you have three "lies" with the landlord catching on to one.

    Perhaps your landlord is the problem as much as the neighbor. You have to judge how much of your money you want to pour into a legal confrontation when your tenancy may last only as long as your lease.

    See question 
  • Can I ask my landlord for reimbursement for the days in which I cannot use my garage due to the landlord resealing the driveway?

    I pay my usual rental fee every month and in addition to this I pay monthly rental fees for my garage. My landlord is resealing the driveway in front of my garage and has asked me to vacate the garage for 3-4 days and I wanted to know if I was all...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Watertown Tenant:

    Your lease for the garage may very well contain a clause that the landlord is not liable to you for rent abatement or rent reduction on the occurrence of an event that interferes with or prevents your access to the garage. Over the course of a commercial lease events may at times disrupt the ability to gain access to the garage. The lease will not provide a financial remedy to you whenever such an interruption occurs.

    New York State law does not impose any special tenancy rights for renting non-residential space. The tenant and landlord are free to craft their terms of engagement. A usual commercial lease is drafted to meet the landlord's needs ahead of the tenant's needs. But that reality does not prevent negotiating terms. So if the lease contained a special provision entitling the tenant to an apportionment of the monthly rent for the garage whenever an overt act of the landlord prevented use (such as resealing the driveway) the general New York rule that there is no apportionment of rent prevails.

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  • Is there ANYTHING a tenant can sign agreeing to vacate by a certain date that would be upheld in court?

    I'm at a stalemate trying to negotiate a new lease with my tenant as they refuse to share the backyard and driveway with a new tenant. They also refuse to vacate as the lease recently ended. I would consider letting them stay until a new tenant mo...

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Brooklyn Property Owner:

    There is no significant difference between a lease for a fixed term that comes to an end and a written agreement to move out in six months. A summary holdover proceeding would follow the tenant's refusal to move out.

    Your six month agreement is nothing more than a six month lease.

    I see no point postponing the inevitable court confrontation.

    See question 
  • Can landlord add to my lease renewal a "separate charges" for an elevator replacement in the apartment building we live in?

    Landlord had replaced an old elevator in our building. Now she added a "separate charges" to my lease renewal form. Is it legit?

    Steven’s Answer

    Dear Brooklyn Tenant:

    If your tenancy is rent stabilized your landlord may have secured a rent increase order from the DHCR for a major capital improvement (MCI). The MCI becomes an add on item to the legal rent and a permanent part of the rent going forward.

    Otherwise if rent stabilized without an MCI rent increase the landlord cannot add any other charge to the rent.

    If you are not rent stabilized the landlord is free to charge any extra rent you agree to pay.

    See question