Duped into & getting dicked out of illegal sublet. Recourse?
May 15, 2012 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Moved into illegal NYC sublet under pretense of legality, now must leave. Recourse?

I moved into an apartment on May 1, in Brooklyn NYC and was told that everything was on the level, twice, in person by the renter. His lease was up on May 1 and he said that he had extended the lease already.

I find out, come May 7, that he did not have approval and the landlord, the lease had not been extended, he knew he was subletting and did not approve. He is giving us two months to find a new place (June 1 move out)

Apparently my roommate signed some sort of standardized contract with him, of which he does not have a copy and I did not sign it. Because the sublet is illegal, is this contract null and void?

I feel defrauded. I was lied to.

What is my recourse? If i go 30 days here can I squat and demand satisfaction?

Its his lease. Does 30 days even matter if I have mail?

Can I demand all my money back and moving costs? That is what I want

Was his action in any way fraudulent?
posted by DanielMerick to Law & Government (8 answers total)
Do you pay month to month? You're still staying in your current place until June 1, so you still have to pay for the month of May. I think you can ask for moving costs as its an unfair cost to you on your roommate / primary tenant's part.

Did you sign a lease between you and your roommate? Even if you move out, your roommate is still held liable for terms of the lease agreement. If he was expecting you to honor your part of the contract, then he needs to honor his part of the contract even when it causes a burden to him.
posted by DetriusXii at 12:03 PM on May 15, 2012

So, there are separate actions here.

If you were defrauded, that's likely a small claims court action for that amount.

If you are being evicted illegally, that's a housing court action.

I'm pretty sure however that you are not actually a tenant of anything. I assume you paid this person money; now this person cannot produce proof of his having a tenancy to offer.

When you say the landlord is "giving us two months to find a new place," what does that mean? (And wouldn't that mean a June 30th move-out date?)

New York City has very specific housing law, and a very consumer-friendly housing court. You can read up with NY CourtHelp. You can speak to people there; there are tenant advocates on hand who can help you sort this out.

(I am not an attorney etc.)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 1:22 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

IANAL, but I watch a shit-load of People's Court.

It does not appear that you are being evicted illegally. I believe in New York that there is only a 2 week notice that needs to be given both for the landlord or the tenant.

Did you pay security? If so, insist that it be returned to you by your roommate.

As a month to month renter, you don't get to complain if after 1 month, you're asked to leave. You don't get moving expenses, or any other compensation. Inherently, month-to-month indicates that neither the landlord nor the tenant wanted to make a commitment, so there is no guarantee that you won't have to move sooner or later. Or that the rent will go up. Or any other part of your deal.

What lease do you have? With whom do you have it? If you don't have one, chalk it up to a life lesson, when subletting, be sure to see all pertinant documents, including a Certificate of Occupancy BEFORE moving in.

Law was invented to rule real estate. When doing any type of real estate transaction, document EVERYTHING in writing. If it didn't happen in writing, it didn't happen.

Also, watch People's Court, it's a great glimpse into the world of New York City landlord/tenant relations.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:32 PM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Have you (or your roommate) spoken directly with the landlord? I'm assuming they'll need to find new tenants anyway, so why not you?

Who have you paid money to, the landlord, the renter, your roommate? Two months from May 1 would be July 1. Have you been served with a Notice to Quit* or Notice of Termination?

Its his lease. Does 30 days even matter if I have mail?
What does this mean? Did you get something in the mail from the landlord or the renter, or do you mean something else?

What does your roommate think you two should do?

NYC is very tenant-friendly. You can probably stay where you are, if you need the time.
Since you were told on May 7 to get out, you could stay where you are until the end of June (unless you're paying rent weekly, in which case notice can be shorter). In fact, if the landlord actually wants you out, they'll probably need to start a holdover case against you.

Do talk to the volunteer attorneys at 141 Livingston to figure out what your next move might be.

I'm not a lawyer, but I've got recent experience having a Notice of Termination served for a holdover petition in Brooklyn.

* For example, a 10-day Notice to Quit is for a "squatter" or "licensee." Someone you allowed to stay with you without paying is called a "licensee." A "squatter" is a person who came in without permission and did not pay any rent.

posted by mgar at 2:39 PM on May 15, 2012

Have you thought about contacting the landlord directly yourself, explaining to him how you were misled about the sublet situation, and see if perhaps he'd be interested in having you stay on as a tenant? You could then spend the next two weeks looking for a roommate rather than an apartment.
posted by patnasty at 3:36 PM on May 15, 2012

Just would like to point out to some of the other posters that the apartment is illegal, chances are the Landlord is evicting tenants because he or she is under the gun by the city. If the apartment is illegal, that's the end of it, the landlord doesn't have the right to rent it, or to collect rent.

The landlord may be in a bad position, and needs the illegal tenants to get out to avoid fines.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:04 AM on May 16, 2012

Response by poster: I intend to contact the landlord myself, but not immediately.

after thirty days there is considered to be a verbal agreement. though nevermind, because my roommate did sign a lease of some sort. I am assuming it was month to month as my roommate never recieved his copy of it.

In order to kick me out, he is required to serve me a 30 day notice in writing which has been registered with housing court, correct? So I can stay and fight, and ask in housing court for more time as long as I am paying the rent.

Or ... I could simply stay through July and not pay any rent in order to make him pay for an extra month while he deals with bs in court trying to get me out ... then I will feel this is a perfectly fair deal. One extra month and he ends up paying for it.

If I have mail with my name on it, or change the utilities to my name, then I have proof of residence ... that is what "if I have mail" means.
posted by DanielMerick at 7:30 AM on May 17, 2012

Not paying rent is a bad idea, and a holdover proceeding is actually a big deal. Know that if you do end up in housing court, you could wind up on the blacklist and have a hard time getting another apartment.

There are ways to make it so you don't have to leave immediately, but if you don't have a valid, written lease (or if your apartment is illegal) you'll have to leave very soon anyway. And if you don't pay rent while you live there, the courts will order you to, anyway.

If I have mail with my name on it, or change the utilities to my name, then I have proof of residence ... that is what "if I have mail" means.
Makes no difference. Having the electric bill in your name doesn't give you the right to an apartment.
posted by mgar at 8:07 AM on May 18, 2012

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