START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
Slimy Landlord Tactics March 17, 2007 9:50 AM

Slimy-Landlord Tactics
12.13.06, 4:09 PM ET
In Pictures: Seven Slimy Landlord Schemes
A corker from the annals of slimy-landlord lore:

About 10 years ago, a large Manhattan real estate firm bought an apartment building that contained a few rent-controlled units. Deregulated, those units would be worth perhaps five to seven times more on the open market--if the developer could nudge the remaining tenants down the road, that is.

One of them, a senile older woman who had been living there for decades, refused to leave. The law was on her side: In New York City, tenants can't be evicted from rent-controlled apartments if they have lived there continuously since at least July 1971. What happened next comes from a source at the real estate firm who chooses to remain anonymous.

In Pictures: Seven Slimy-Landlord Tactics

Soon after the purchase, the woman fell ill. While bedded up in the hospital, the company moved all of her possessions into another apartment set up to look just like her previous one, except that it was more than a dozen blocks away.

"This woman wasn't completely aware of her surroundings," says the source. She also had no family, so the company paid her nurse to keep up the ruse and even moved her old doorman into the new building for a few weeks to greet her. "The fact that she saw some familiar faces was enough to carry her for a few weeks." (The company eventually sold her original apartment as a co-op for a hefty price tag.)

Most property owners don't have the guile or the resources to pull off such a stunt. Still, overly opportunistic landlords are a sad fact of life. No matter if the housing market is torrid or soft, they are always looking for ways--some downright slimy--to squeeze the most out of their properties. Your best defense: A few ounces of prevention and some knowledge of the law.

Of all the nasty maneuvers, threat of eviction is the scariest. But many of those threats don't have teeth. Generally speaking, yearly leaseholders are safer than those who rent month to month. In most states, landlords must prove that tenants with annual leases have violated their agreements before they can evict. Monthly tenants, on the other hand, can be booted without cause with a 30-day notice in most states, barring a few exceptions such as discrimination. Residents of rent-regulated apartments have a right to automatic lease renewal (unless, perhaps, they don't have all their faculties).

Most tactics don't involve such blatant strong-arming. Take repair requests. A landlord could add a clause in your lease stating that you must pay to fix that leaky sink, busted refrigerator or recalcitrant space heater. That's a crock. In fact, the law deems such clauses "unenforceable," and it's the landlord's job to foot the bill.

The best recourse: Put all repair requests in writing (in case you end up in court), and be sure to record the date and time of each. If your landlord doesn't follow up after a few phone calls, hire a repair person and forward a copy of the bill. Refusing to pay part--or all--of next month's rent until the problem is fixed works too.

You apartment may not have taken a beating, but your security deposit might. Call them "creative deductions"--$100 for chipped paint, $200 for ripped carpeting and so on. The big problem: By the time you get your dented deposit back, you've already moved out, so what can you prove? Head this hassle off before you move in by doing a walk-through with your landlord, checking off any imperfections and taking pictures.

Put the findings in writing and make your landlord sign the document. Then, a week before you move out, do the same thing again. If you end up in small-claims court, you'll be well armed.

Landlords also may try to whack you extra for taking on a roommate or an extended house guest--even though federal housing statutes prohibit landlords from raising rents on tenants who do so. There are limits, of course, so you can't pile in your whole extended family. What's typical is two individuals per bedroom, plus one. So, up to three people (including children) can reside in your one-bedroom apartment before the landlord can jack up the rent or issue an eviction notice.

If your landlord really gives you the creeps, consider buying renter's insurance. The cost is minimal (maybe $10 to $30 a month) compared with what you might lose in repair costs and lawyers' fees.

Really fed up with your landlord? Extract your own pound of flesh by knowing the law. Example: Tenants in Chicago can collect twice the amount of their security deposits if they can prove that landlords stick rent checks and security deposits in the same bank account, says attorney Aaron Krolik. (Most banks can help you track down this information.) If that doesn't work, Chicago renters can double their pleasure if their landlords blank on paying the stipulated interest on security deposits, currently 1.7% a year.  [ send green star]

Links to Other Articles March 17, 2007 9:52 AM

* When your landlord sells you out * Talk about it: Share your landlord horror stories * 6 easy tips for making a smooth move * Desperate renters go to extremes * 7 sins of first-time renters * The most expensive cities for renters * The 10 best cities for singles  [ send green star]
 August 19, 2011 12:26 AM

In Britain we have all sorts Tenancy, the word Tenancy is the most important word, a Tenancy in Britain, means to give the Tenant Full Possession as in Street-v-Mountford 1985, this means that Tenant would have right to keep others out of the property including the Landlord, however the Landlord would still have the right to enter under s11 of the Housing Act 1985 to inspect and Reapair, the Landlord indeed give 24 hours notice in writing to the Tenant, if the Landlord, does not find any repairs after his inspection, this maybe seen as Harassment by the Landlord which is actionable by the Tenant under the Harassment Act 1997,

s11 part 1 Housing Act 1985, put on the Landlord repair obligation that he must carry out under the Tenancy, and repairs must be done within a resasonable time, should the Landlord does not comply with his Obligations to repair, the Tenant would have a number of option, (1) take the landlord to civil court, (2) obtain an injunction on the landlord from the courts, (3) do the repair yourself, then reclaim the money back from the Landlord, (4) use the Rent to offset against the repair, in Lee-Park ruling

the old woman was in possession of her property, she was indeed taken into hotspital she would be still be seen as been in possession of the her property, by the courts, by the landord removing her possession this would seen as Harassment and Trespass in Tort Law and is actionable throught the courts,

I am not sure if in American if they have Free Legal Aid, or advise centre for Free Legal Advise, this would pay for the legal case and for any lawyers that maybe needed, but looking at the matter, this case could be done very easy by someone who knows abit about the law, if I was aware of this case I would have done it myself, however this was not the case, the problem with some tenants they do not know their rights, and this landlord acted in away that I would say ont fit enough to be a Landord, had it happened in Britain,  the courts would have put the tenant back in possession of her property and warded damages to the tenant, the landlord would have to pay in damages of somewhere of the sum £70,000 and costs.

The way I deal with cases is to obtain the information that I will use then obtain a review of the case by sent it to the Bar of Pro-bono in London this would give me the how the courts would view the case and the chances of winning, Bar of Pro Bono is a free sevice provided by retired Barristers and Judges which is very helpful it funded by donations from the Public and People using the service.

 [ send green star]  [ accepted]
  New Topic              Back To Topics Read Code of Conduct


This group:
Campaign for Housing, Healthcare, and Other Options Of the Poor
160 Members

View All Topics
New Topic

Track Topic
Mail Preferences