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July 2011 Archives

If You End Up In Court, Ask For A Concession Before You Agree To Pay Rent

Many cases for nonpayment of rent are ultimately settled. Generally, settlements cannot be appealed. So it's important to be careful what you agree to, because you'll be stuck with it unless you go back to Court again to revisit the dispute. Settlements are formalized in a legal document called a stipulation, which outlines the terms of what both sides agree to.

Frequent Changes in Residency and Employment Weaken Fitness for Custody

Custody is always based on what is in the best interests of the child. The stability of the environment, lifestyle, and related conditions will always be important in determining custody arrangements. If you move often or can't seem to hold down a job, it will work against you. So if you're looking for sole or joint custody, staying put in your home and job during the initial proceedings can strengthen your legal position. 

Better Know How Much Your Roommate Makes

With recent changes in the law, if you live in a stabilized apartment and the rent is over $2,500 a month, the unit can be deregulated and subject to market rates under certain conditions. If the total income of the occupants exceeds $200,000 for two years in a row, you can lose stabilized status. So that means if you take in a roommate, you need to know specifically how much income he or she brings in each year, because it will count towards the total. If your earnings and the roommate's together exceed the $200,000 threshold over a two-year period, you will lose your rent-stabilization protection. For example, if the roommate has a part-time job when first moving in and earns enough to cover expenses, and then later get a full-time position paying far more, it may jeopardize your regulated lease. Think carefully about who you share your place with. 

A Rent-Regulated Apartment in New York City is a Rare and Valuable Marital Asset

Today it is almost impossible to replace the benefits of a rent-stabilized or rent-controlled apartment. The amount of space you get for the price, along with the lease terms and protections cannot be duplicated in the unregulated, free market. This means that whoever retains the unit usually gains a significant financial advantage.

Each Incident of Harassment Can Cost Your Landlord $5000

If you're a victim of harassment and live in a rent-regulated unit, your landlord may be subject to a fine of up to $5000 for each offense. Harassment is any behavior that is intended to pressure a tenant to relinquish rights or vacate an apartment, or that violates a tenant's right to privacy and quiet enjoyment of the property. This can include verbal abuse, physical violence, unwarranted eviction threats, interruption of services, damage to personal property, and sexually-oriented remarks or gestures, or any other conduct that is intended to intimidate you. Landlord misrepresentation to tenants about what the law requires can also be deemed harassment. Needless to say, harassment claims depend on case-specific facts that have to be adequately proved in Court. In certain instances, harassment can also be charged as a felony. 

Get the Landlord's Case Dismissed with a Multiple Dwelling Law Violation

In New York City, if your building has three or more apartments or rooms that are separate living quarters for you and other tenants, legally it must be registered as a multiple dwelling. Sometimes owners of small properties do not comply with this requirement to escape a range of costs associated with formal registration.

If You Intend To Travel With a Minor, Make Sure You Get Your Ex's Consent to a Passport

Current laws require the consent of both parents in order to obtain a Passport for a child under 16 years of age. Sometimes when a divorce is finalized, and one parent wants to take one or more of the kids on an overseas trip, the other will object. Frequently it is based on a fear of the ex kidnapping the children, and then winding up embroiled in an international legal battle. If you think you may want to travel with your kids, have your attorney negotiate to make your ex-spouse agree to approve a Passport application on request. There should be specific language to that effect included in your settlement agreement. 

If You're Not Careful, Running a New York City Home Business Can Lead to Eviction

The number of renters who work from their apartments is rising. Some tenants have moved an enterprise from commercial to residential space to cut expenses, while others have started a home business due to lost employment. Many landlords try to use this as a "reason" to evict. If you get a dispossess notice, citing a lease violation because you're running a business or professional practice in residential space, you'll need to prove that you are not breaching city statutes and codes. The landlord may also claim you're breaking city or state laws, are a nuisance to other tenants, creating security problems, or overloading building systems with extra traffic. If not effectively opposed, these assertions might result in eviction. Consult a Tenants' attorney before making any changes in your unit or its use that could be portrayed as burdening or endangering the building or its occupants, or that might raise an issue about zoning compliance. Of course, if your business operations are quiet and unobtrusive, you are less likely to come to the attention of the landlord to begin with. You can get more detail on this topic here .

Divorce and Child Support Laws Now Apply to Same-Sex Couples in New York

With the recent passage of historic legislation approving gay marriage in New York, the legal landscape is now entirely different for gay and lesbian couples in this state. If you are involved in a same-sex relationship and reside in New York, keep in mind that if you divorce, you will now be subject to the same legal and financial constraints that are imposed on straight couples.

Illegal Activity in Your Apartment Can Get You Evicted

You've invited a group of friends over for a party. Someone is smoking a joint. It's late. It's loud. A neighbor calls the cops to complain about the noise. When the police arrive, they smell marijuana and make an arrest. Tenants are responsible for what goes on in their homes. You may end up facing criminal charges and also be subject to eviction. Prohibit anyone in your home from engaging in any kind of illegal activity. Or you may find yourself living someplace else. 

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