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Do I have any rights as a tenant in a possibly illegal basement apt. in NYC?

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  • Do I have any rights as a tenant in a possibly illegal basement apt. in NYC?

    I live in NYC, paying rent for a basement apartment in the landlord's house, which the landlord has informed me himself is illegal. This could be misreprensentation on the landlord's part to prevent him from thinking I have any rights as a tenant, but I'm not sure. I do have rent receipts signed by the landlord, but he would not give me a written lease. Unfortunately, I am experiencing many invasion of privacy issues, including opening of my mail, lack of utility services that are supposed to be included in the rent, harassment issues, and violations of a tenant's right to a quiet and peaceful living environment. Do I have any rights as a tenant without a written lease, with signed rent receipts, if, in fact, it is an illegal basement apartment? Thanks in advance to anyone willing to offer advice.

  • #2
    Re: Do I have any rights as a tenant in a possibly illegal basement apt. in NYC?

    You both are at fault.

    And you should leave there. But you still usually will be required to pay what you agreed for time you were there.

    If the city finds you however, you will be evicted so avoid the hassle and get out now. Your "lease" is not valid anyway.

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    • #3
      Re: Do I have any rights as a tenant in a possibly illegal basement apt. in NYC?

      Unfortunately you don't have a written lease. Without one, you are considered a month to month tenant. Either you or the LL can give appropriate written notice at any time to terminate the rental agreement. Unless your unit falls under rent control (and I doubt an illegal apartment would), you have few protections against being asked to move out.

      You do have the same rights as any other tenant as far as privacy, utility service, and peaceful enjoyment. I have to ask - Who is opening your mail? Is it the LL? Is it someone else? Was it a one-time mistake (we've all opened at least one letter assuming it was addressed to us) or has it happened several times?

      The utilities are a problem. If you have no written agreement, how can you show they were supposed to be included? Do you have a copy of the ad advertising all utilities included? If you have nothing in writing, it will be hard to show that the LL is supposed to pay for these unless your unit is not separately metered. What utility service has been interrupted and for how long?

      On peaceful enjoyment - what is the problem? Is the LL making too much noise? Have you called the police or complained in writing to the LL? We need more information on this. Keep in mind that because you live below other people, you WILL hear them. Hearing noise from other units is a common complaint in apartments. The noise has to be beyond normal household noises, it has to be disturbing (louder than normal or after hours), and you will need to prove or document it before you can take action against the responsible party.

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