I recently appeared in court in the Bronx because my roommate filed a hold-over case against me. While speaking to the attorney for the judge, she (the attorney) asked if I would like to speak to a lawyer, I said yes so she postponed my case until July 10th. It turns out that my roommate who is receiving SSI and SCRIE, was overcharging me in rent (I pay $640 per month and his rent is only $936 per month) and she (the lawyer) felt that I overpaid him, do not owe him what he claims and although I do have to move, I need to get advice from an attorney. My roommate has not reported this additional income to SSI or SCRIE and may get in trouble. I was told to find out what he could have legally charged me and I have no clue where to start asking. Can someone please advise me?
Generally the rule is that a roommate cannot profit from a subtenant. Here, based on the limited facts and without evaluating the implications of illicit receipt of SSI or SCRIE, your portion of the rent should have been half of his rent. Given that this scenario can get complicated and that you are facing eviction you should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney concerning the specifics of your case.
This is a complicated one. You would be best served by retaining an attorney who could go over everything and advise you how to best proceed.
Dear Bronx Roommate:
You are correct that the rent overcharge and perhaps improper income will not protect you from a holdover proceeding based on termination of your month to month tenancy. You surely may consult an attorney to learn if you are compelled to report the excess income earned to SCRIE. Since the apartment is Rent Stabilized you may also have a money claim for triple damages for the rent overcharge.
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