Going Too Far with Foreclosure Action, find a Long Island Foreclosure Attorney

English: Foreclosure Sign, Mortgage Crisis

English: Foreclosure Sign, Mortgage Crisis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For families in Long Island, foreclosures are a scary prospect, but some homeowners have been faced with an even more frightening scenario. A recent lawsuit in Illinois alleges that many individuals have been illegally harassed during evictions by subcontractors representing their lenders.

The Bank’s Side

As the economy has declined over the last several years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of foreclosures. Some families would fall behind on their mortgage payments and move out of their home, leaving it vacant and subject to deterioration and vandals. In an effort to maintain the value of the properties, banks hire property management firms to deal with the problems common to vacant homes. These firms then subcontract the actual work to smaller companies. The subcontractors first determine if the house is still occupied. If it is vacant, they then change the locks, winterize the property, and take care of other necessary maintenance.

This system tempts contractors to act dishonestly, however: because a vacant home will result in additional work for the contractor, he has a financial motivation to ignore evidence of occupancy. However, both the banks and the property management firms claim to exercise strict oversight to prevent this built-in bias from affecting their work.

The Homeowner’s Side

Unfortunately, families facing Long Island foreclosures or foreclosures in other parts of the country have a different story to tell. Homeowners recount incidents where obvious signs of occupancy were ignored and a property was incorrectly declared to be vacant. They report having their homes broken into and personal property destroyed or discarded. Others claim that they were told that they must leave their homes immediately, even though they were still in the midst of the foreclosure process.

The Law

A recent $26 billion settlement between 49 states and five major banks, called the National Mortgage Settlement, has direct bearing on this situation. Although the case that precipitated the settlement dealt with banks’ oversight of their foreclosure lawyers, the terms of the settlement require lenders to carefully monitor the activities of all of their third-party vendors. These vendors, of course, would include property management firms and their subcontractors.

If you are being harassed in this way by a property management firm or their representative, you do have legal recourse. Even though you have fallen behind in your mortgage payments and become involved in the Long Island foreclosures process, you should not be prematurely forced out of your home. Contact the law office of David Witkon today for a free consultation about your situation and your available options.

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

MIdwood1Condos

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.