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December 2010 Archives

Even if the Landlord Wants the Dog to Go, Fido May Get to Stay (Your Cat Too)

If the landlord finds out you have a dog or cat, and doesn't sue you for a violation within 90 days of learning of the animal's presence, the rights to terminate your lease are waived. If the building is sold, the new owner has to abide by the previous waiver, and cannot evict you because you have a pet in violation of your lease's provisions.

Recently Enacted Temporary Maintenance Guidelines Provide More Financial Stability

If you depend on your spouse for income, during a divorce you can obtain an order for him or her to pay ongoing support in the form of "temporary maintenance." When the new no-fault divorce legislation in New York was passed, revised temporary maintenance guidelines were also signed into law. The intent behind the guidelines is to provide a more stable and predictable income for spouses who receive support. The receiving spouse's income must be less than two third's of the other's in order for the new law to apply. Temporary maintenance is then either 40% of the sum of both incomes less the recipient's income, or 30% of the payor's income less 20% of the recipient's income - whichever figure is smaller. For calculation purposes, combined income is capped at $500,000, and the new law is not applicable to poverty level incomes. If your spouse is self-employed and has many questionable deductions, your lawyer may be able to dispute the declared income in favor of a higher figure. This can increase both temporary and future maintenance. 

If you're 62 or over and have a rent-regulated apartment, the landlord has restrictions on evicting for personal use...

Under rent stabilization, the landlord can deregulate an apartment for his or her personal use or the use of a family member. You have defenses against this because a property owner must still prove that the premises are to be used for the stated purpose. In addition, as a senior citizen, the landlord would be required to find you a similar replacement apartment, at an equivalent rent, in the same neighborhood.

If your spouse is extravagant and wasteful, that may be good for you...finally.

Let's say that in your marriage, money flowed through your spouse's fingers like water. Years of one bad expenditure after another were commonplace, with his or her lavish tastes resulting in depletion of funds that should have been conserved. You fought many times to no avail, and were unable to convince him or her to mend these destructive ways. If you can demonstrate this has been an ongoing condition of your marriage, the Court may award you a significantly higher percentage of the marital assets, particularly if you have custody of the children. Also, if marital funds were used to pay off debts your spouse incurred individually, you may be entitled to a credit. Make a list of wasteful, unwarranted expenses to discuss with your divorce lawyer. If they can be substantiated and show a definite pattern of financial carelessness, your attorney may be able to make a powerful argument on your behalf. 

Succession Rights Swordsmanship in New York City

A rent-stabilized apartment in New York City is an extremely valuable asset. The size and location of a regulated unit can almost never be replaced at an equivalent price or on similar lease-terms in today's market. Most times, it doesn't benefit the landlord for you to stay on as a tenant. Removing you would increase profits, because the rent can be jacked up and the unit escapes regulated status. Consequently, if you remain after the named tenant dies or moves out, the landlord will see an opportunity to act. The significant financial incentive to evict protected tenants means that you're probably in for a legal knife-fight in the courts. So if you want to inherit a rent-stabilized tenancy, take advantage of every right you have.

"Exclusive Possession" vs. "Exclusive Occupancy"

All divorces must deal with the question of how the marital residence is to be handled. Whether you own or lease the property, the difference between getting exclusive possession or exclusive occupancy is substantial. If the divorce terms give you exclusive possession, you obtain the right to stay in your house or apartment. If you later want to sell it and move, to rent it out or sublet it, you have the legal right to do so. On the other hand, with exclusive occupancy, your rights to the premises are intact only for as long as you live there. So exclusive possession confers a broader array of legal rights, but will have to be negotiated by your attorney. Which of these two arrangements is most suitable for you will depend on many factors, including the value of the total asset pool that is being divided up.

Be Careful When You Rent a House, Co-op or Condo in a Down Economy

If the property where you rent is foreclosed, you could end up being evicted even if you have a valid lease. Most unregulated leases are "subordinate" to the mortgage. This means that if the mortgage is foreclosed, your lease is cancelled. The exception to this rule would be a rent-regulated lease, because rent-stabilized or rent-controlled status stays intact. These leases, with their automatic renewals, can survive foreclosure. Needless to say, in difficult economic times, landlords who lease out smaller properties are frequently the ones who can't make their payments and end up in foreclosure. One protection you can institute that may help is to request a three-year lease, then record it in the County Clerk's Office. This can, in certain instances, have the effect of binding the lender to the lease terms. But as with many Landlord Tenant matters, it has to be handled properly, as it may raise other issues. The effectiveness of the strategy depends on the language in the lease and the mortgage, so there's no guarantee that your leasehold is sheltered from the foreclosure. If the stability of your tenancy is very important to you, it's worth having a consultation with a lawyer to help with document review and drafting. 

Even If You Have Nothing, You May Still Need a Prenup

Some individuals marry without a prenuptial agreement because they have no assets Therefore, they reason, what's to protect? Unfortunately, it's not quite so simple. What happens if you receive gifts from one or both parents, or commingle an inheritance with funds in a joint account? It's not always clear whether a gift or an inheritance remains martial property. What if you lose your job, end up pursuing self-employment, and start doing much better financially? So even if there's nothing to protect right now, there may be in the future. It's easier to negotiate a prenup when your significant other knows you have little or nothing in the way of assets worth fighting over. The other person tends to reason as you do: why object to signing it, when there's nothing to fight over? In the case of a potential inheritance, you may be able to explain that your parents are insisting on the prenup. Mom and Dad often want to be sure that what they give to a child, stays with him or her. If you're already married, you may also want to consider a post-nuptial agreement, which can provide similar protection to a prenup, but is agreed to after marriage. 

If Other Tenants Received Advantages That You Didn't, It May Be Discrimination

Let's say you can't pay your rent on time, and another tenant was given an extension in a similar situation. If you weren't offered the same benefit, the landlord may be forced to extend your time to pay also. Otherwise, it can fall within the legal definition of discrimination. You will have to be able to prove that the other tenant got preferential treatment. That may involve having your lawyer subpoena the person to appear in Housing Court with documents. This principle may apply to any circumstance in which one or more tenants receive advantages from the landlord that others do not. 

What to do when your roommate becomes a stone in your shoe

"Seemed so nice when we first met," is the phrase lawyers often hear. Everything even went well for a while. But now you bitterly regret having gotten involved. It happens all the time: conflict arises and people part ways. If you're in a situation like this with a roommate, there are legal ramifications to be wary of. In most cases, the landlord can sue all the tenants named in the lease and get the full rent from any one of them. The tenants must then determine how much each should have been paying the landlord amongst themselves, and may end up suing one another. On the other hand, if your name is the only one on the lease and you wish to terminate a relationship with someone living in your apartment who is paying part of the rent, you might have two problems:

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