Security Promised But Delayed | Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer

Tenants in one Bronx rental complex have had enough of delays and empty promises. Despite being taken over by the New York City Housing Authority, this facility still has serious deficits in its security and other important amenities.

The Tenants’ Complaint

Middletown Plaza is a senior housing facility located in the Bronx. It is a 15-story building with 178 apartments and was originally constructed in 1973.  The nearly two hundred seniors that live in this complex, however, are fed up with the facility’s deficiencies. For years, residents have been asking that security cameras be installed in the building’s elevators and hallways and also in the area around the complex. More than a year ago, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) promised that they would address the security concerns as well as some other repair issues. In fact, as early as 2011, the city council designated funds to make the security improvements. Work started on the project in March, but the cameras are still not operational.

Additional Issues

In the meantime, other issues with the Bronx rental facility continue to develop. In June, rainstorms flooded the building, putting elevators out of commission and rendering stairwells unusable. With no accessible exits, some senior citizens were trapped in their apartments. Although it is perhaps the most flagrant example, the Middletown Plaza facility is not the only one with problems. The NYCHA runs a number of rental complexes around the city, serving more than 600,000 tenants. Many of these residents have serious issues with the city’s management of their buildings. In fact, one mayoral candidate questioned why so many NYCHA buildings were in disrepair when the Authority has nearly $700 million available for its use.

Implications

Facilities in disrepair and poor landlord response to tenant complaints are problems that are not unique to this Bronx rental facility. It is reasonable to expect better things from a city-run housing authority, but in reality these issues are common to many tenants across New York City. It is important that landlords and management companies be held responsible to provide reasonable accommodations and security measures for their residents. Putting off or delaying repairs must be addressed by legal action, if necessary.

If you find yourself in a situation similar to the tenants of this Bronx rental complex, you need a lawyer who will help to protect your interests. David Witkon Law has experience working on behalf of New York area tenants to deal with difficult landlords. Contact our office today for a free consultation about your situation.

The Importance of Hiring an Accurate Lawyer | Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer

A recent Manhattan housing case has given all Queens landlord tenant lawyers some cause for concern. Their unease stems from the fact that the court found in favor of the tenant, but the lawyer–not the landlord–was the one held liable.

The Story

Rafael Lee, an 82-year-old immigrant, has lived in a rent-controlled apartment in Manhattan since his arrival in the United States in 1965. His rent is set at $790.30 a month, but he also has a $400.00 rent subsidy from the Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption program. A notice was given to Mr. Lee that eviction proceedings had been initiated against him for nonpayment of rent, but the figures did not take into account his $400 rent subsidy. Mr. Lee quickly obtained a lawyer, who informed the landlord’s law firm of the error. Once the law firm verified that a mistake had been made, they initiated a motion to discontinue the case against Mr. Lee.

His home was safe, but Mr. Lee felt that the anxiety and distress he had suffered deserved some compensation. Therefore, he filed a lawsuit for damages. A judge determined that the landlord’s law firm had initiated the eviction proceedings based on incorrect business records provided by the landlord’s management company. The judge ruled that the attorneys should have verified those records more carefully before filing their case and held the law firm liable for damages. Rather than go to court to determine the amount, the firm reached a settlement with Mr. Lee for $22,000 plus $108,000 in legal fees

The Ramifications

This case sets an unusual precedent for Queens landlord tenant lawyers and indeed for all lawyers in this practice area. The court’s decision was based on a federal law, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is designed to hold debt collection agencies accountable for any errors that they make. Law firms have reacted to this decision by instituting procedures to verify information provided to them by their clients in an effort to protect against future lawsuits of a similar nature.

If you own rental property and employ a Queens landlord tenant lawyer, it is important to be sure that your attorney is careful and accurate in his data collection. Although this case found the attorney to be liable, there is no guarantee that a future case may not hold a landlord culpable as well. The Witkon Law Firm is ready to help you with all aspects of New York’s complex and ever-changing landlord tenant law. Contact the office today for a free consultation on how to protect yourself from lawsuits like this one.

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Living in Fear of Eviction | Long Island Eviction Lawyer

To residents in Suffolk County, eviction is a dreaded threat. Not only does it remove them from their home, but having an eviction on their record can make it nearly impossible for them to find another affordable place to rent. A new trend sweeping the nation’s cities could give them yet another reason to be fearful of this outcome.

Nuisance Property Ordinance

Many cities have passed or are considering laws known as nuisance property ordinances. These laws are designed to deal with neighborhoods that have high crime rates. Under such ordinances, landlords are required to evict tenants if the property requires frequent visits from the police due to 911 calls from the tenants or neighbors. Although the laws sound good in theory, their application has resulted in some unexpected consequences.

A Case in Point

One single mother in Pennsylvania discovered firsthand how this legislation might affect some tenants. She had called 911 at various times because of an abusive boyfriend. After one call, the police told her that they would ask her landlord to evict her if they were called again. The abusive boyfriend was released from jail and showed up at her property demanding to stay. Rememberig the police’s warning, she felt that she had no choice but to let him in. Within a few days, there was another argument with the man that resulted in him attacking her with a broken ashtray. Despite the four-inch laceration on her neck, she begged her neighbor not to call 911 lest she be evicted. After she passed out, her neighbor called, and she was airlifted to the hospital for treatment. Despite her obvious injuries, city officials ordered her evicted from the property.

Evaluation of the Laws

Once the woman got the ACLU involved, the city backed down from its eviction demand, but these laws are still on the books in numerous other cities and towns. It may not be long before Suffolk County evictions are occurring on this basis as well. Although no one wants to live in a neighborhood with a crime-ridden property, there is some question as to whether penalizing residents for calling 911 is the right answer. Such laws seem to unfairly discriminate against battered women and minorities. They also make individuals hesitant to call the police when they need help. When the laws are used as the basis for an eviction, the affected parties have little or no legal recourse.

It is important for area residents to be aware of the guidelines governing Suffolk County evictions, and it is always a good idea to secure legal advice whenever you have a concern that your home may be in jeopardy. The attorneys of David Witkon Law are experienced in dealing with landlord tenant situations and can help you think through your available options. Contact the office today for a free consultation.

Arrest Warrant Issued for Landlord | Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer

A recent occurrence should encourage landlords offering Bronx rentals to take a little more responsibility for their properties. A judge in the Bronx Housing Court finally ordered the arrest of a local landlord for his extreme negligence.

Past Events

Joel Loutan owns a four unit building in the Bronx. Mr. Loutan has a history of not properly caring for his property. The building is reported to have a collapsed roof, leaking walls, rotten support beams, and broken boilers. In 2009, the building was placed in a program administered by the New York City Department of Housing and Property Development. This program, termed the Alternative Enforcement Program (AEP), is designed to use the power of the law to force landlords to make necessary repairs. The AEP ordered Mr. Loutan to replace the building’s collapsed roof, rewire the building’s electrical system, repair the outside walls, and replace the heating system. Mr. Loutan has continued to ignore these orders. In fact, both he and his attorney have completely missed several court appearances.

The Warrant

After nearly four years of this behavior, Judge Jerald Klein of the Bronx County Housing Court issued a warrant for his arrest. This is only the fifth time in an eight-year period that a warrant has been issued for a recalcitrant Bronx rental owner. More often, the AEP simply makes the repairs and then bills the landlord for the cost of the work. This landlord, however, has shown such blatant disregard for the law that arrest was the only solution.

An Isolated Incident?

Some tenant advocates claim that these types of situations are not as unusual as the statistics might indicate. One organizer for a local tenants’ union tells of many landlords who refuse to make the necessary repairs requested by their renters. To avoid legal action by the city, they eventually evict their current tenants, perform the needed renovations, and then raise the rates and attract a new group of renters. Tenant advocacy groups argue that the city is still not doing enough to protect residents of rental properties. The arrest warrant is good, they say, but it is sad that it took four years of the landlord’s irresponsible behavior before it was issued.

Does your residence have unsafe living conditions that your landlord refuses to address? You need an advocate that can represent your interests and advise you on your available options. The professionals of Witkon Law are ready to deal with Bronx rental situations and are happy to serve as your representatives in any necessary legal action. Contact the office today for a free consultation about your unfavorable living situation.

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What is the Tenant Fair Chance Act? | Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer

Individuals looking for an apartment or house rental in Nassau County or other parts of New York City have a new law to help them. But, although the law has been on the books for a few years, not all landlords are in compliance with its provisions

Its Background

The Tenant Fair Chance Act came about as the result of a class action lawsuit filed in 2006. The suit was brought against a company called First Advantage SafeRent, Inc. (FAS). The company is one of many that perform background checks on potential tenants for New York City landlords. One part of the check involves determining if the individual had been involved in any housing court cases. The lawsuit alleged that FAS provided only part of the information on individual’s court histories. Their reports did not include important information such as whether the tenant’s actions against their former landlord were found by the court to be justified. Since New York City court cases are identified only by individuals’ names, some background reports falsely stated that a prospective tenant had been involved in housing court when actually it was another individual with the same name. FAS lost the lawsuit and was required to pay $1.9 million. The Tenant Fair Chance Act was passed to help protect potential tenants from being unfairly blacklisted as undesirable renters.

Its Provisions

Under the Tenant Fair Chance Act, an owner of a rental in Nassau County and throughout New York City must inform potential tenants if they use an agency to perform background checks. The landlord must include this information on the rental application along with the agency’s full name and address. If a landlord rejects a rental applicant based on information obtained from that agency, the individual has a right to see and challenge the report.

Its Application

Tenant Background Search is a Texas-based firm that handles the screening process for many New York City landlords. This organization recently urged its clients to ensure that they are in compliance with the Tenant Fair Chance Act. Failing to provide the required information opens landlords up to serious legal action. In actuality, the new law has positive effects for both tenants and landlords. Tenants can defend themselves against unjustified blacklisting. Landlords can rent to good tenants who might otherwise have been mistakenly disqualified.

An experienced landlord tenant lawyer may be necessary at several points along the process of rental in Nassau County. Landlords should have a qualified attorney review their paperwork and procedures to make sure that they are compliance with the law. Individuals who have encountered a landlord that failed to follow the provisions of the law should seek counsel as to legal action that might be necessary. Potential tenants who were wrongly rejected definitely need legal help to challenge the screening company and clear their good name. If you find yourself in any of these situations, contact the law office of David Witkon today for a free consultation.

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Tenants Stuck Outside for Months | Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer | Attorney

English: Looking east across 33d St at former ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For any group of tenants in Long Island, eviction is always a fear, even if a distant one. Typically, however, the landlord initiates an eviction. When tenants are instead removed from their dwellings by the city, the results can be devastating.

81 Bowery

In Chinatown on Bowery Street, there is a single-room occupancy tenement. It is rent controlled and occupied mainly by Chinese immigrants. They live in tiny cubicles and share a bathroom with other tenants, paying $200 a month for the privilege. But despite these cramped conditions, they consider their dwellings home and have built close relationships with the other residents

Unfortunately for these individuals, the owners of their building have a history of poor property management and have been cited with numerous code violations. In November of 2008, the city ruled the tenement too hazardous for occupancy and expelled the residents from their homes. Nine months later, they were finally permitted to return. Despite this incident, management continued to neglect the upkeep of the building.

Recent Events

On March 7, the history of this Manhattan eviction was repeated. The previous week, news station CNN had run a piece about the living conditions in the tenement. An Arizona viewer saw the report and called the city. In response, the city issued a vacate order. New York Fire Department personnel arrived at the building in the middle of the day when most residents were at work. They broke down the doors to all the rooms, and, as tenants returned home, informed them that must immediately leave the premises. The Red Cross offered shelter for a few days, but residents soon found themselves on the streets.

The Present

Now, more than four months later, these individuals are still homeless. Despite promises that management would address code violations within two weeks of the eviction, the building remains unsafe for occupancy. Tenants have organized protests to no avail. These individuals seem to have been overlooked and forgotten by both the city and their landlord. Only time will tell if they will again be able to obtain housing that is both safe and affordable.

There are things tenants can do to prevent this Long Island eviction story from repeating itself. It is vital for residents of a building to stay aware of the conditions of their dwelling and take steps to force landlords to deal with violations. If a landlord does not respond to requests, legal action must be taken before the living conditions become hazardous. If you have concerns about your landlord’s response to problems in your dwelling, you should protect yourself by seeking legal counsel immediately. The Long Island Landlord Tenant attorneys at Witkon Law are happy to help you consider your options. Don’t allow your landlord’s neglect to cause an eviction in Long Island. Contact Witkon Law today for a free consultation.

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What to Do When Your Landlord Doesn’t Make Repairs | Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer

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MIdwood1Condos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer

Brooklyn landlord tenant relationships can have many issues, but a major one occurs when landlords do not adequately maintain or repair their rental units. Residents of one Brooklyn apartment building are taking legal action to deal with this problem.

Complaint of the Tenants

After dealing with issues since 2005, individuals living in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn have finally had enough with their landlord. According to their reports, needed repairs are not being done, and the little work that is done is substandard and short-lived. One man’s oven has been out of order for over a month. Another resident complained of recurring problems with the building’s elevator, including a recent five-hour outage. The city has also recognized issues with the management of this complex. The building has more than 250 open violations for such things as a broken water line, defective ventilation in the garage, and a leaky roof. The tenants are suing the holding company for immediate repairs of all violations.

Defense of the Landlord

Despite these complaints, the management company alleges that they have done nothing wrong. The current management purchased the building in 2007 and blames many of the problems on poor maintenance by the previous owners. They state that they have spent more than $1.6 million on improvements and renovated 83 apartments since they acquired the building. According to the company, the majority of the open violations have been addressed, and they are unaware of any current complaints from the tenants. Obviously, residents who have complained to the building superintendent about peeling paint and leaking pipes find these statements rather hard to believe.

What Can Be Don

Regrettably, this situation is not isolated. Brooklyn landlord tenant relationships are often strained when management does not respond to repair requests. As this scenario makes clear however, tenants do have options when this problem occurs. The initial step is to ensure that the problem is not due to the tenant’s own neglect or abuse. Next, the resident must report the problem to the building superintendent and allow a reasonable time for a response. If the issue is not dealt with appropriately, the tenant has a number of options including contacting the city for a housing inspection, withholding rent to cover the repair cost, or suing the landlord. Before taking any of these steps, it is important for the tenant to safeguard himself by seeking legal counsel.

If your Brooklyn landlord tenant relationship has been harmed by this kind of situation, it is important to take action promptly. Contact the Witkon Law office today for a free consultation about your rights as a tenant and options for dealing with your unresponsive landlord.

Evicting Non-Paying Tenants

Something most landlords dread is the process of evicting non-paying tenants. Without good information, a landlord may unknowingly violate the law in an effort to recoup his losses. In order to protect the rights of all involved, the process of eviction is quite complicated.

Demand for Payment

Before a landlord can start court proceedings against a tenant, he must first present the tenant with a demand for payment of the past due rent. While the demand may be made orally, it is usually best to submit it in writing. A landlord is not allowed to give this notice directly to a tenant. He must use a representative — either a process server or another person who meets certain qualifications. There are also specific guidelines as to when and how the notice must be served. Once the demand has been correctly delivered, the landlord must wait three days before beginning court proceedings.

Initiating the Nonpayment Summary Proceeding

The next step in the process of evicting non-paying tenants in the state of New York is to file two forms with the court. The first is called a Notice of Petition: Nonpayment Proceeding and the second is a Nonpayment Petition to Recover Possession of Real Property. Once these papers are submitted to the court and the fee is paid, the court clerk will assign a docket number and a date on which the case will be heard. Copies of these papers must then be delivered to the tenant using the same method described above.

The Court Date

In the actual court case, the landlord should present evidence of nonpayment including rental receipts, a copy of the lease, etc. The tenant may also try to bring evidence that rent has been paid or that it has been withheld for a legitimate reason. The judge will examine all the evidence, listen to the arguments, and make a decision. If the judge accepts the claims of the landlord, he will give a Judgment.

The Actual Eviction

The Judgment gives the landlord the right to evict the tenant and take back possession of the property. However, a landlord cannot personally evict a tenant. Instead, he must obtain a Warrant of Eviction, and then ask a law-enforcement officer to perform the actual eviction. 72 hours of notice must be given to the tenant before he is evicted.

As can be seen from this brief overview, the process of evicting non-paying tenants is very complex. If any of these forms are filled out incorrectly, not filed properly with the court, or imperfectly served on the tenant, the case for eviction may be completely dismissed. For this reason, it is wise to use the services of a lawyer when attempting to evict a tenant. If you are a landlord in this situation, contact the law office of David Witkon today for a free consultation.

 

Source:

https://www.courts.state.ny.us/courts/6jd/townvillage/NonPaySummProc.pdf

Signing a Commercial Lease

Are you considering renting space for your business? Before you sign a commercial lease, there are a number of things you should consider.

Not the Same as a Residential Lease

Commercial leases have a number of differences from residential leases. A major difference is that most consumer protection laws do not apply to commercial leases. The paperwork used for these leases is not standardized, which means that you need to carefully study every portion of the contract. A commercial lease agreement is legally binding and cannot easily be broken. You may even need to sign a personal guarantee, which says that you (or another officer of the company) will personally cover the remaining rent payments if the business fails. On the positive side, commercial leases typically allow for much more negotiation in terms and amenities. Especially when a landlord is eager to rent the space, you may be able to obtain some very favorable considerations.

Terms of the Lease

Since this type of agreement is legally binding and usually involves a large financial commitment, the terms of a commercial lease are very important. The amount of the rent is an obvious consideration, but there are several accompanying factors. How is the rent calculated? Typically it should be the number of square feet multiplied by the cost per square foot divided into twelve monthly payments. Can your landlord increase the rent? How often? Does he have to give you an explanation? Is there any cap on the amount? What does the rent include? Does it cover property taxes and insurance? Who pays for maintenance costs?

Other things to consider include regulations regarding outside signage and agreements concerning rental of space in the building to your competitors. Often, you can negotiate changes to be made to the space to make it fit your needs. However, if such modifications are done, the agreement should specify exactly what they entail, who pays for them, and who owns them after their completion. If the rental location includes space held in common with other tenants, the contract should specify the party responsible for maintaining and restocking these areas. Of course, the lease should also include guidelines for renewal, termination, and mediation.

As you can see, there are many details that make up a commercial lease agreement. It is definitely not something into which to enter hastily. Contact the Witkon Law office today. We are experienced in negotiating commercial leases and can help protect you from the large financial cost that can accompany innocent mistakes.

https://www.businessknowhow.com/startup/lease.htm

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/commercial-lease-basics-29934.html

Is Your Landlord Following the Law?

Trust is hard to come by these days. For those of us that are currently renting or who want to start renting, we want to be able to confidently believe that the landlord is always right. We automatically assume that the landlord should have a better understanding of leasing and renting laws than we do. So we sign all hope over to them and in return we expect a decent and respectful landlord tenant relationship. Some of us unfortunately find when it comes to landlord and tenant issues, the landlord may be doing some things illegally-deliberately or even unintentionally. How can you make sure that your landlord is following the law?

In New York State, renting is incredibly common, especially in the boroughs and City of New York. Where renting is occurring, so is discrimination and unfair housing practices. Listed below are a few of the most common ways in which landlords illegally take advantage of the landlord-tenant relationship.

Discrimination

Just like Employment discrimination works, Housing Discrimination laws are based on the same rules. Racial, gender, and sexual discrimination is completely illegal. If your landlord asks you any questions about your orientation, immigration status, mental health or rehabilitation status, he may be pushing the privacy limit. Landlords are only allowed to collect information in regards to the tenant’s financial condition to ensure that the rent will be paid. Believe it or not, even asking about family or children may be crossing the line—The lines get blurry and that is when a lawyer would probably be best to contact if a problem arises.

Illegal Evictions

In New York, especially Long Island, illegal evictions are all too common. The major rule when it comes to eviction in NY is that you must evict within ninety days. However, there are certain exceptions to that rule in which the landlord gets the upper hand. For example, if you have illegal substances or paraphernalia in your apartment, your landlord may have the right to get you out of there sooner. But when it has to do with non-payment situations, state and federal law pursue a long drawn out process which could take months before a tenant can be evicted.

Theft

If you are evicted and have left the apartment while the lease is still in effect, you are allowed to get your property. The landlord cannot refuse you or change the locks. There are stern laws which protect your right to collect your belongings when you move out.

If you feel you are facing or have faced a situation involving housing discrimination, illegal eviction, or even theft by your landlord, call the Law Offices of David Witkon today.