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If my building is not registered with the city am i legally obligated to pay my rent?

Brooklyn, NY |

I live in a small historical brownstone that needs major work and is receiving none of it. The front and back facades are buckling, the roof is constantly leaking then being "patched" and to be honest I'm not even sure who owns the property. The previous "owner" was convicted of mortgage fraud and I'm sure through some shady dealings it seems as if an agent of his is still in charge. I'd be shocked if the building is not shut down by the city within a year. Also, my lease has not been updated since I moved in January '09, the "new management" doesn't even have a copy of it. Also, we are constantly receiving mail from the electric and gas company saying our bills are overdue. It seems to me my rent is being used for anything but the maintenance of this building. Should I continue to pay?

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Attorney answers 2


Dear Brooklyn Tenant:

Only your own attorney could advise you to pay or to not pay your rent. You need a consultation with an attorney in a confidential setting.

The landlord can do whatever it wants with your rent as long as the landlord complies with the state and city laws and code relating to Housing Maintenance.

If you are curious about who is the legal owner of the building you could look up the ownership as well as all property records for your address at ACRIS:

You could look for additional information about the building at NYC HPD:

Additional information could be located at the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB)

If you want an inspection at the building then telephone your complaints to 311. If the building is in condition that you describe an inspection could result in a vacate order, but that is likely better than having the building collapse on you in a heavy rain.

Good luck.

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.


The first attorney to respond is correct about withholding your rent in this situation. It's not something to be done lightly without consulting a lawyer. Just for general information purposes, buildings that have three or more residential units are supposed to be registered with Multiple Dwelling Registration.
You can check the MDR status of your building here

In terms of the situation with your lease, your generally has no obligation to renew your lease unless you live in a rent stabilized unit. As a general rule of thumb, if you live in a building with 6 or more units and the rent for your apartment is less than $2000, there is a good chance that your apartment falls under rent stabilization. I your buidling has fewer than 6 units your apartment is not stabilized. You continue to be obligated to pay rent after the lease is expired unless you have some basis other than the expiration of the lease for stopping payment.

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