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My landlord lied to the Village about me living there.

Mineola, NY |

I've been living in a basement apartment for about 10 months . The other day the landlord tested me and said that there was a sewage problem by the house and that the people needed to get into my apartment . The people from the Village of Mineral came by while I wasn't home and noticed the bed . The landlord then tested me and said I that i needed to move out in a month without the full 30 days notice . Apparently they LIED to the village . I called the village to see if there was anything I can do or if it was reported . They just called me back and told me that the landlord said no one was living there . Did I screw myself here and that I will have to move out earlier ? I appreciate any information . Thanks ! !

Thank you Richard Chertock - am I able to ask for Relocation expenses then?

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Attorney answers 3


You certainly did not help your situation. Essentially, now the Village is aware that there is an illegal apartment at the premises. They could come and issue the owner of the house a violation for having an illegal apartment. That would force the landlord to commence eviction proceedings against you to get you out and restore the house to a single family dwelling, thus getting rid of the violation. The good news is that this does not happen overnight. Only a court can force you out of the apartment and that takes time. In the meantime, you can stop paying rent as it is illegal for the landlord to collect rent on an illegal apartment and a court will not award back rent to the landlord because the apartment is illegal. You could use this to your advantage by negotiating a date that you will be out of the apartment by and not paying rent in the interim. You could also just wait for the landlord to have you served with a petition and notice of petition to evict then go to court and ask for an adjournment. Get an attorney at that time and negotiate a settlement. You could get away with living there for several months without paying rent before the landlord can win a judgment of eviction.

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I agree with my colleague. He has provided you with excellent advice. In addition to your follow-up ("Additional Information") question - you're not entitled to relocation expenses, but you can work it into the negotiation. By that I mean, that it'll cost him a bit of money to evict you, so as part of you leaving wilfully you can ask for relocation expenses, or a portion thereof. Good luck.

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Dear Tenant:

You have received excellent advice. In New York State and in Nassau County, you are not alone in the plight of being a tenant victimized by a landlord renting an illegal dwelling.

Texting is not a valid method for making or serving a tenancy termination notice. A New York month to month tenant is entitled to a one month termination notice that acts to terminate the tenancy on the last day of a rental month. If your month to month tenancy is a normal month that is rent is due on the first day, a termination notice if one were properly made and served on you on March 4 could not end the tenancy earlier than April 30, 2013. And because you are residing in an "illegal dwelling", you do not need to pay rent to the landlord and the landlord cannot sue you for rent.

But the landlord could legally start what is known as a holdover proceeding. A valid holdover proceeding requires the "foundation" notice of termination of tenancy. And as the text notice is not valid to terminate the tenancy it does not seem that the landlord has taken any legal steps needed to bring your tenancy to an end and to bring you to court.

The renting of illegal dwellings is a problem in New York, but so far, the New York legislature has not intervened with a law that would provide tenants victimized by a landlord with legal rights to recover rent already paid.

All New York provides to tenants residing in an illegal dwelling is the right not to pay "future" rent and to be protected from an eviction case due to rent nonpayment.

But at the same time, New York would still allow the landlord to keep the rent from the illegal rental and allow the landlord the use of the courts to evict the tenant for living in an illegal apartment.

You have to realize now, that the reason for the prohibition for renting cellar locations as apartments is that a cellar is a dangerous place for anyone to live.

You bring this issue to an attorney and an attorney would suggest that you begin to plan to move and not pay any more rent to the landlord.

An inventive attorney may try to break through the fact that New York does not provide a clear statutory remedy and build a lawsuit for you on a claim of breach of contract, breach of the warranty of habitability, fraud, restitution for damages caused by an illegal contract, and seek civil forfeiture as well as claim the landlord engaged in a deceptive business practice or in an illegal business.

Read more about the landlord and tenant proceeding in Nassau County District Court at:

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.

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