Dear Brooklyn Tenant:
Please hire an attorney as soon as possible and learn your rights as a New York tenant.
No landlord may evict without a court proceeding where the landlord succeeded in proving to the satisfaction of a Housing Court judge a proper eviction cause of action presented in a lawsuit started by the service of a notice of petition and petition.
Your landlord is clearly setting you up for some court event. Refusing a payment of rent creates a defense in favor of the tenant should the landlord ever sue for rent. Making the condition for accepting rent that the tenant pays in cash, is illegal.
So. I just read the last line in your question and that statement should have been your lead point. Why would you want to continue to live in an illegal apartment and then why would you want to voluntarily pay rent to a landlord if the landlord rented an illegal apartment. A landlord CANNOT SUE a tenant for unpaid rent if the landlord rented an "illegal apartment." That means do not force the landlord to take your rent. Right now as the law stands in New York, the landlord cannot sue or claim any legal right to recover unpaid rent from a tenant in an illegal apartment and on the other hand the law in New York at present does not give the tenant the right to recover the rent already previously paid for renting the illegal apartment.
The landlord cannot "fix" your illegal apartment in any manner that would make the apartment legal to rent or legal to live in as you described your apartment being in the building basement. Basement apartments in NYC buildings stand nearly no chance at all in becoming "legal" to rent or to live in without a vast amount of money spent by the landlord to try to gain a Certificate of Occupancy for the basement.
New York law does allow the landlord to bring an ordinary eviction proceeding where rent is not an issue and where the landlord does not ask for a rent judgment. That is a summary holdover proceeding and it is based on expiration of the lease or termination of the month to month tenancy. A month to month tenancy may be terminated by the landlord be serving on the tenant a written thirty day notice of termination of tenancy that acts to end the tenancy on the last day of a month as long as at least thirty days advance notice is provided and the notice is served in the legal method allowed by the law.
In July, a landlord could serve a month to month NYC tenant with a thirty day notice that ends the tenancy on August 31, 2013. After that day if the tenant did not move the landlord could file a petition in a summary holdover proceeding.
So forget about paying rent. Paying rent cannot make the apartment legal and if you pay the rent you will not have a court award the rent money paid back to you when the landlord brings the only legal proceeding for your eviction.
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But most important. Get an attorney on your side. Hold on to the rent. Do not try to force the landlord to take the rent. Start to look for a legal apartment.
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If you don't go voluntarily the landlord has to take you to court.
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No, New York does not allow for self help evicitions. Your landlord must go to court and must give you proper written notice meeting strict minimum timeframes to get someone evicted. Only the court can order an evicition and only the sheriff can enforce a warrant to evict. I suggest you take any letters you get from your landlord to an attorney to review and respond to if necessary.
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No your landlord may not evict you without going to court. As my colleague stated, NYS does not allow for self help evictions. You should consult with a landlord tenant attorney in your area. Most attorneys offer free consultations prior to accepting your case.
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Assuming the apartment is a legal one, the landlord is allowed to make a 3 day demand that you pay the unpaid rent or quit the premises. If you don't pay, the landlord is within his or her rights to commence summary eviction proceedings in a court.
You can't get along with the landlord, there are repair issues, and the basement apartment might not have the blessing of the Building Department. Why not just leave?
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