Hi, I have a DHCR case going on. Recently my landlord provided lease document to show high rent in the past. I am almost 100 percent sure those lease documents were not existing before my complaint. The landlord knows few old tenants and probably asked them to sign a least after I complained to DHCR about rent overcharge. I believe at the time of the tenancies there were no leases. Is there a way I can prove my landlord has created this documents to mislead DHCR? thank you
Dear New York Tenant:
Not a surprise that the landlord could come up with a lease to match a tenancy recorded in the Rent History years before you became a tenant and offer that lease to "explain" the huge bump up in the rent from that tenant's predecessor to that older tenant's rent.
The usual route to the high rent from one old tenancy to the next one in the rent history is a claimed Individual Apartment Improvement. Today, the "old" lease by itself may not be enough to "prove" the legality of the rent increase, especially if the apartment does not show a significant renovation.
You may try to force the production of records relating to the apartment improvement (work orders, canceled checks, DOB permits). If the rent history for the building (you likely only have secured the rent history for your apartment) shows similar rent increases on apartment turnover, and similar suspect leases for new vacancy tenants that back up the recorded rents, then the landlord or predecessor may have properly increased all those other apartment rents with an IAI, or faked all the rent increases throughout the building. DHCR may conduct an "audit" if a pattern of suspect rent increases appears in the building's rent history.
Experienced tenant attorneys have had to deal with these situations and so perhaps you should hire an attorney.
The answer provided to you is in the nature of general information. The general proposition being that you should try to avoid a bad outcome if you can.
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