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Questions Answered by Steven Warren Smollens
1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: How long would it take a landlord to evict two individuals who are disabled.

They have been tenants for over 16 years and has paid their rent. The landlord called in December to tell them they must be out by the end of March. The landlord said they do not have to pay rent during that time for them to save enough money to relocate. However, the following month he sent a new... View More

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Feb 25, 2024

New York State housing law does not have any specific protection for disabled residents in relation to eviction.

But tenants with a 16 year long tenancy without a lease must first be served with a written notification that the landlord is not continuing the tenancy at least ninety days...
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1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: Does a rental lease expire or terminate upon the final walkthrough being completed and the landlord collecting the keys?

My old landlord did a final walkthrough and collected my keys on 11/30/23 and is now claiming I am still responsible for rent for December and January per an addendum in my lease. If they collected my keys and I no longer have access to the unit, and they listed it as available online shortly... View More

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Feb 20, 2024

Dear Pen Yan Tenant:

Likely, the turnover of the keys ended the lease obligations. Did your landlord return the tenant security deposit to you within fourteen days of the turnover of the keys? If not, and if the landlord did not provide you a written itemization of legal deductions in the...
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1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: I am a HUD-VASH voucher owner. My landlord increased my rent $107 above fair market and months before my lease expires.

There is no option in my one-year lease that allows Winn to raise my rent during the lease term. Is this legal?

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Feb 20, 2024

Dear Albany Veteran:

No legal process exists for any landlord to charge a tenant an increase in rent during a lease term. That should be so for you as well.

https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/public_indian_housing/programs/hcv/vash

1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: I have been a hotel tenant for 1 year and 3 months now. I would like to know if that Winter Moratorium went in effect.

It is called the Winter Moratorium Eviction Act of 2023. Just want to confirm if that went into effect last December.

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Feb 20, 2024

No. The Bill is stuck in an assigned committee. It has not been passed and it is not law.

https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2023/S1403/amendment/A#:~:text=2023%2DS1403%20%2D%20Summary,properties%20during%20the%20winter%20months.

1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: My landlord & i are in court for non payment. My lease ends next month. Can my landlord refuse to renew my lease?

if we are still in court proceedings for past non payment? I live in nyc. And it’s also a rent stabilized building.

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Feb 20, 2024

You must also be a Rent Stabilized tenant. A NYC landlord to a Rent Stabilized tenant is barred by law from refusing to renew a lease even when the tenant owes rent and even if the landlord has a nonpayment eviction case in Housing Court.

1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: NY state -- can my mom terminate the lease she shared with my dad, who recently passed away? Only his signature is on it

Does NY state allow early termination of a lease in the event of the death of the immediate family member who had signed the lease? My mom did not sign it, though she is listed as an occupant

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Feb 20, 2024

Yes. There is a statute. It is five days old today. It became effective February 15, 2024:

* § 236-a. Termination of lease of a deceased tenant. Notwithstanding

any contrary provision contained in any lease hereafter made or renewed

which affects premises demised for...
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1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: New York State. Living in apartment after14 day notice. Petition hearing next week. Will partial pay cancel process?

New York State. Upstate. Ulster county. Living in apartment after14 day notice. Petition hearing next week. Main question is, Will partial pay cancel the eviction process? For example, if I owe 7k right now and pay 1k before court, will they have to start over? Hearing is also 3 days before the end... View More

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Feb 17, 2024

Dear Ulster County Tenant

Partial payment even in NYC Housing Court ahead of the first Court day does not annul the landlord nonprofit proceeding so it's not likely that will happen in your Court.

Landlord and Tenant practices vary widely across the State even within the...
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1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: Building is J51 on HPD; all tenants have Preferential rent as only Legal Rent, but my apartment is 421a with concessions

I am a few dozens years tenant, years on SCRIE.

Apparently situation is the revoked Preferential Rent ( after 2019 Act). In my renewal lease now is High Old LLR, though it was HSTPA change in 2020/2021; my bills are reversed to High Rent with Concessions. I researched Neighbours: all of... View More

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Feb 17, 2024

Dear Tenant

Something seems wrong with the underlying facts. The J51 should have expired. https://www.nyc.gov/site/hpd/services-and-information/tax-incentives-j-51.page#:~:text=Benefits%20granted%20include%3A,get%20the%2014%2Dyear%20exemption

Consider consulting an attorney.

2 Answers | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: I am moving into an apartment on 15 February in New York City. Can the landlord charge me from 1 February?

I currently live in Boston, I didn’t even look at the apartment until 4 February. I just got my lease after asking for it for three straight days and they’re charging me from the first. Is this legal?

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Feb 17, 2024

Dear new New York Tenant:

New York residential leases do not necessarily require the lease term commencement date to coincide with the day the landlord will allow you to occupy the apartment. If you accepted a lease and a rental period starting on February 1 with an occupancy date of...
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1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: Hello, my friend won't leave my apt

I let my friend stay in my apt for 8 months while out of town, now I'm back and she won't leave, she moved her stuff in. There is no lease with her, I'm the only one on the apt lease and I refuse to be homeless. When I move back in, we'll just have to deal with housing court... View More

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Feb 7, 2024

I gather that this apartment is your primary residence, you have a current lease, you pay the landlord rent for the apartment, your landord did not charge you for a lease violation [sublease or assign without permission], the apartment has space for two unrelated adults to have private sleep and... View More

2 Answers | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: How to remove an ex girlfriend from the home I own. She is not on the deed but refuses to leave. It has been over a year

My ex girlfriend is refusing to leave the home I own. She moved in with me when I bought the home but is not on the deed of my home. There is no lease agreement and I asked her to leave in October of 2022. I have filed the 10 day three times then a 30 day and she never responded but when I went to... View More

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Feb 7, 2024

There is a path to take but you will require an attorney. You and your attorney will decide how to describe the legal status of the Ex you allowed to live in your home. Likely after so much time and after abandoned attempts to get to a judge you may require Real Property Law Section 226-C written... View More

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1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: We are 65 & 70, on a wait list for a senior housing complex. Will we be penalized if we break our current lease?

We don't want to go month-to-month on our current lease, as it increases our rent by about $500 per month. If we re-sign our lease, but a unit becomes available in the senior housing complex, can we break our existing lease without penalty?

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Feb 5, 2024

Dear Rochester Tenant

How is it possible that the rent will increase $500/month? New York State law says that when a tenancy goes month to month the rent remains exactly the same as the rent paid before the lease ran out.

Moreover in New York the landlord must propose a new lease...
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2 Answers | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: One-year lease states Landlord will pay for all utilities. Two months left in lease, now she requires 30% utils. Legal?

She just sent me an addendum to lease today, which I did not sign, requiring I pay 30% of utilities for the remaining two months of the lease. Original lease specifies that Landlord will pay all utilities for the duration of the lease.

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Jan 22, 2024

Dear Locust Valley Tenant

Of course your landord does not possess a legal right to alter the terms of the tenancy during a lease.

But New York housing law allows the landlord to shelve the current agreement. If the tenant refuses to accept new terms the landlord is able to use a...
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2 Answers | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: My landlord lives above me and makes excess noise daily. I have complained several times. They’ve acknowledged the noise

And said they’d quiet down. Didn’t happen. The next time I went to them they said they’d soundproof ceiling. Nothing. I have so much video of the noise from upstairs. I’m startled daily out of my sleep from them dropping things on the floor. I also used a decibel reader, and when they drop... View More

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Jan 21, 2024

Dear Centereach Tenant

You must take into account that you reside in a community that does not afford much protection for tenants from a landlord choosing to not renew a lease or a tenancy. Generally Harassment is not recognized as a cause of action against a landlord beyond NYC Housing...
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2 Answers | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: A Stipulation Agreement for Rental Dues, what can I do? Possible Consequences? Fearing Eviction.

My husband and I have fallen back severely on the rent, due to personal health issues we have ended up owing close to 20,000 in rent with multiple months unpaid for. Today was the court date and there was a stipulation agreement put into place where he would have to pay all the months of rent... View More

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Jan 17, 2024

Every unit of the Housing Court has an office that will connect a tenant with the rental assistance program of Human Resources Administration. And every tenant is also entitled to a free no strings attached postponement of the initial Court Hearing date as well as a referral to a court assigned... View More

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2 Answers | Asked in Civil Rights and Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: How many times can you enter and exit your apartment and at what times of the day?

Neighbors think I go out too much.

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Jan 15, 2024

Dear Brooklyn Tenant:

The NY State Legislature, the New York City Council, and your lease do not control how often a tenant uses the apartment door to enter or leave the apartment or the time of day. Slamming a door on the way in or out is annoying to neighbors, but there is also no law for that.

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1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: I received a notice from my landlord stating that on Jan 1, 2024 a surcharge of 2.2% will be added to my rental bill

As the phase out period had begun in Sep of 2021. The notice stated that no back charges will be billed but that this surcharge will be required every month. When I get the rental bill, I noticed that the surcharge was actually 6.6% and when I questioned this with the management I was told that... View More

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Jan 14, 2024

Dear Queens Tenant:

As a practical matter, responding attorneys are not your lawyers and are not providing legal advice. You cannot be the only tenant impacted by the retroactive collection of the 2.2% surcharge. You may gather your neighbors and seek an in-person consultation at the local...
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1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: i have lived in my apartment for 15 yrs. the apartment is part of a two family house in a residential area.

This year the lease is being revised and i was told i will no longer have access to the backyard. I have a greenhouse in the backyard and have always used the backyard. being its a two family house what are my right as to the use of the backyard? i have always had the use of it and part of the... View More

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Jan 14, 2024

Dear Huntington Tenant:

There may be several reasons the landlord decided to recover the use of the backyard and the basement. Perhaps the landlord wants exclusive use of the basement. Perhaps the landlord wants to use the greenhouse. Perhaps the greenhouse was an unlawful alteration to...
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1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: My landlord evicted me & my children and six days later he destroyed all of our belongings, what can I do?
Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Jan 10, 2024

Dear Albany Tenant:

An eviction without a court lawsuit, a judgment from a court, and a warrant of eviction is illegal in New York State and is a crime. You could have called the police right away. Now, you have only a lawsuit for an illegal eviction and will need a lawyer. You could still...
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1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York on
Q: Landlord in Brooklyn NY. Asked long term tenant that is on a month to month to surrender property but she did not move.

Landlord in Brooklyn NY. Asked long term tenant that is on a month to month to surrender property. Gave her the 90 days and officially served her with a service processor. Date to vacate was December 31st. She did not move and said she does not have the funds. So we agreed on March 31st but... View More

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
answered on Jan 10, 2024

Dear Brooklyn Landlord:

Acceptance of rent after the end date of the tenancy creates a new month-to-month tenancy and would require a new Section 226-C written notification served by a process server.

In Kings County Housing Court, a surrender agreement is not likely to be a good...
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