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Landlord demanded rent for time they didn't own house

Albany, NY |

Hi. I rent an apartment and a couple months ago the house was sold and a new owner took over. They purchased the house mid month. They immediately asked me for rent for that entire month as well as wanting the normal rent for the coming month. Can they ask for rent that was payable to the old landlord? I had done some things around the house for the old landlord and that was supposed to be covered. We paid it because we were afraid we were going to be thrown out if we didn't. We didn't have money for moving expenses.

I actually have a handwritten note from the landlord telling me that as long as he owned the house I did not have to worry about the rent. Obviously half of the month he did own the house. Is information in a closing public record? If the new landlord needs a written agreement in a closing then it would seem something that might be important.

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

Dear Albany Tenant:

Once paid is too late to ask. The new owner likely took the house subject to your existing tenancy and any rent owed by you to the last owner was assigned to the new owner at the closing. You may have been within your right to request proof of the assignment of rent. But since you had nothing written down and signed by the last owner that he waived his right to the last month rent, even had you requested a copy of the assignment of rents and leases, you had nothing to back up your claim that you did not owe that amount of rent to the old landlord.

Your tenancy will last as long as your lease. If the new owner catches on to you then maybe you could add time to your lease. But if you are month to month, the new owner has the right to end your tenancy with a one month notice and does not need a reason to do so.

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.

Asker

Posted

I actually have a handwritten note from the landlord telling me that as long as he owned the house I did not have to worry about the rent. Obviously half of the month he did own the house.

Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Warren Smollens

Posted

OK. You did not mention that you had a written document from the last owner. Did you provide a copy to the new owner? Or to the new owner's attorney. Recorded deeds are public records.

Asker

Posted

She came in like a whirlwind and we were terrified we would get thrown out if we did not comply. It was after this that I had remembered I had that note. I figured there would be some time frame to fight this. How many tenants would know they could be forced to pay a new owner rent to the other landlord's charge. She never provided me with any proof or even that there was a conversation with the previous owner. Would the agreement she is supposed to have with prior landlord part of the closing?

Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Warren Smollens

Posted

OK. An assignment is not recorded in a private house sale. Coming in like a whirlwind should have been enough to tip you off that the new owner is a problem. But what is your point? If you make this person worried about you she will just end your tenancy.

Asker

Posted

You are right about being a tip off that the owner would be a problem. You should see the month's + worth of uncovered garbage on the back porch from the other tenants. We are poor or we would have left here immediately. The new owner is a slumlord and there were things said that made me know straightaway that he wouldn't do anything other than collect the rent. However, I would have fought the taking of money retroactively if I could have. I don't believe he had any kind of agreement with the prior landlord because he was a very decent man. He wouldn't have done that knowing we had an agreement. I just thought that with most things if you are wronged there is a period of time where you can go back and fight. Most individuals don't know all their rights. It is also my understanding that if they ended our tenancy through retaliation it was against the law.

Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Warren Smollens

Posted

OK. I understand. Will you fight over one-half month of rent in Small Claims Court at the price of your new slumlord landlord terminating the month to month tenancy and bringing on an eviction case perhaps faster than your could receive justice in Small Claims? I only suggest you weigh your needs. To claim the termination of the tenancy is retaliatory the tenant must have made complaints to government agencies complaining about conditions in the house that violate housing, habitability and or health code. See: http://law.onecle.com/new-york/real-property/RPP0223-B_223-B.html If you believe this issue is worth the landlord challenging your tenancy and you defending your rights based on retaliation, then do not do anything without an attorney at your side. Establishing retaliatory conduct is difficult in the best of cases. Good luck.

Posted

If the rent was unpaid at the time of the closing the new landlord is entitled to collect the rent by agreement between himself and the prior landlord. The sale of the house in no way affects your obligation to pay rent .

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Asker

Posted

I had no lease with the previous landlord. Please read my comment above. There was a handwritten note from the previous landlord saying that while he was landlord that things were taken care of. This was late in our stay. The new landlord took over in the middle of the month. Demanded rent that was not expected by previous landlord. Hopefully this is clearer for you. It may not change the obligation, but it is different than your interpretation of the matter.

Asker

Posted

Also, I do not believe that the landlord had an agreement with previous owner; not only because of the arrangement I had with previous landlord, but because I was asked if I paid any rent to him that month. I said no because I felt our agreement was not their business. Perhaps that was my error. I wasn't expecting her to demand rent that was on his clock. But according to answers I am getting she was supposed to have that in writing. Is it public record what is in a closing?

Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Warren Smollens

Posted

A recorded deed is a public record. An assignment of rents and leases is between the seller and the purchaser. A tenant should inquire from the new owner about the assignment before paying rent. Since your tenancy runs month to month your continued occupancy in the house is up to the landlord (or you, as you also have the right to provide the one month notice to end the tenancy and move out) as a month to month tenancy is simple to bring to an end in New York State.

Posted

You correctly paid the new owner rent. If the prior owner owes you money for work you did while he was the owner, ask him for that money - or sue him in small claims court. The new owner will be able to supply you with the prior owner's new address, it's on their transfer documents from the closing.
Good luck.

I may be guessing or not licensed in your state. No atty/client relationship exists.

Asker

Posted

The compensation from previous landlord was the rent that didn't have to be paid. If the owner did not have an agreement with the prior landlord I am not sure how that could be his fault. He was a good guy and would not stick it to anyone.