Saturday, February 10, 2007

Tenant eviction questions
Disclaimer: The following is my opinion. IANAL - I am not a lawyer. Therefore I do not give legal advice. My opinion probably would, legally, be free and questionable advice, hearsay, rumors, or outright misleading information, lies, heresy, calumny, betrayal of trust, sabotage, espionage, terrorist information, brainwashing, illusions, dreams, utopia, and utter nonsense. So - you should ignore it and move along. Just run away fast.

But I believe I know something useful to someone, and I am still free to say whatever I have to say in this land of madmen. So far. I think. I didn't read the Patriot Act yet. So...

Could my landlord evict me?

Landlords commonly bring eviction cases against tenants, frequently without any justified reason. It's just business, not personal - they want you out to raise the rent for the next tenant. The landlord or you could win or lose the case. Only the court will decide.

How long could I still stay in the apartment?
Worst case scenario: your case is weak, you've done something illegal. If to defend your case you do nothing at all, never show up in court? Probably not very long. If you simply show up in court and try to delay it, saying you are looking for a lawyer, most likely several months. If you get a lawyer, probably several months at least, maybe around six months or a year. Or forever if you win, have a rent-regulated apt, and a lease, and the law doesn't change. Or until the landlord can bring another case, then the court will decide again...

But I would win in court, wouldn't I?

If the landlord has no valid argument and no evidence for one, you will probably win in court - if you defend yourself reasonably. But if you or a lawyer, don't appear to defend your case, nobody appears, you automatically lose.

How would I defend my apartment?
You could defend the case representing yourself. This would be difficult, time consuming and more risky, but possible. Ideally you would have a good lawyer, specialized, and dedicated, to NYC tenant law. Tenant associations call them "tenants-only lawyers". If you have a lawyer, you don't even have to go to most court sessions, although you can of course. Sometimes you should, sometimes probably not.

Where can I get some advice? Know more about this?
The best places would be a tenant's association, tenants legal clinic, tenant websites, and the Citywide Task Force on Housing. You can also try to get help at community and government associations, churches, a Community Board, a City Councilman's office, Congressman's office.

Where can I get a free lawyer? Does the court give me a lawyer?
Some poor people, below certain incomes, may qualify for a free lawyer from places such as Met Council, SRO Law Project, and others. You may have that option. If not, you will have to pay a private lawyer, or represent yourself alone, known as "pro se". NYC housing court has a few volunteer lawyers that will teach you a few things on how to represent yourself. They will not give you legal advice, and will not represent you in the court. The court does not give you a lawyer, or recommend lawyers. A tenants association will recommend you lawyers, and tell you your chances of representing yourself.

How much would a lawyer cost? To defend me, in my case?
It seems that it is around $1000-$5000, usually around $2000. But I don't know your case. And each lawyer has their own prices. And your case might be simple, short, and cheap, or complex, long, and expensive.

Will I get my legal fees back from the landlord if I win?
Usually, no, you will not. In certain cases you can, if you are persistent and have a good lawyer, and you establish that as an early objective of your case with your lawyer. Your lawyer will really prefer to get legal fees from your landlord instead of from you, but still needs to charge you up front. If you get legal fees, you get that money back.

Can I get a discount in my rent? For the lack of repairs, bugs, mold, no heat, or something?
Sometimes the judge will rule, or the lawyers will agree, on some reduction in your rent. It may be a tiny amount or a pretty large discount. A few people have permanent reductions in their rent. If very few cases, when landlords break many laws, tenants no longer have to pay rent, sometimes for many years, or get an offer to buy their apartment or building, at a very low price.

What if I win the case, or it looks like I'm going to win the case?
Normally you get to stay in the apartment. Some landlords will want to settle the case before it's over with a buyout. They will offer you $5,000 to move out. You, or your lawyer, will ask for $150,000 or more to move out. You will settle at something in the middle, and you will get a few more months to leave. Or you can just stay and keep living in the apartment.

But I have the right to stay in my apartment, it is mine, I own it, and get the money from the landlord, and get more money, and to keep the apartment, and they didn't repair what I said they should, and this is ridiculous, this is crazy, and besides...
Yes, yes. I agree. You are completely right. You need to complain to Congress, mobilize your friends and family to your cause, join a protest, and campaign for your rights. Politicians make the laws, not us, and they don't hear from you or me, so they make any law they want.

OK, just tell me who I need to talk to, what I need to do, and all that...
If you're living in a rental apartment, I think as bare minimum you should know your basic rights. Read the Attorney General's Tenant Rights guidelines. In addition you should be familiar with, and save the number, of two or three tenant's associations, and perhaps two tenants attorneys. One day, your landlord may become a problem. And you will want to know what to do and say, then and there.

A tenants only lawyer -

NYC tenants website and discussion forum -

A tenants association -

NYC Task Force on Housing -

Met Council on Housing -

NYS Attorney General Tenants Rights Guide

Obama, Hillary and company want to work for Exxon/Mobil?

If Obama or Hillary became US president, could he just stop the Iraq war? Tell all the soldiers to go home? The president can legally do that. But would they, even if they wanted to?

Who does the president work for, who has a hold on them? How much do corporations influence or control politicians, as opposed to the public, voters, and the law?

Hard to know how much, but we know that there's significant influence by corporations.

They have their lobbyists, which have influence in washington, as well as on elections campaign money.

Corporations have heir own advertising and PR to influence the public - although they can't use that directly for politics, they fund or influence other groups that can.

They can influence public opinion of the politician if they do things that are not agreed-upon. For instance, insurance companies could get articles written that bash a politician if they propose public insurance, or just good public hospitals.

There is their business, which they can move or just bluff about moving - tax money, paychecks, factories, stores, funds in banks, a large influence on the economy, is another lever businesses have, and don't even have to pull - the public and politicians generally enslave themselves to this money from their own initiative - and in some cases they don't and won't even have it, it's just inflated false hopes of gaining something.

There is of course illegal stuff, which clearly exists - plain bribes or kickbacks in various forms, getting lawyers to harrass politicians, their families, or journalists. Hiring "private eye", "investigative", or "security" agencies to gather information on people, create paranoia, fear, divisiveness, or outright violence. Using that information for any kind of blackmail.

So who are Hillary and Obama trying to work for? Perhaps they say they want to work for "the american people", and personally just want the prestige and power. But in the end, they will be restricted in what they can do.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Evition settlements - that means money

People in New York frequently receive a "buy-out" from the landlord to move out.

I found that it's very common for landlords and tenants to settle their eviction cases, most commonly quite high amounts. Of course the landlord eventually makes it all back, once the apartment is rented for two, three or four times what it was before. Settlements go from a paltry $5000, usually what a tenant accepts by himself, hithout getting a landlord, up the $70,000 or $150,000, in which case there are always lawyers negotiating.

It seems that it's not too easy to negotiate these - if the landlord thinks the person is just moving anyway, he will just wait and see if they do.

I'm not sure exactly what leads these cases into settlements - seems that it's mostly to end the trials and the waiting and uncertainty. I do see what motivates the landlord to pay this money - making more money later.

The rental market is high. An apt renting now for $1000 often could get $3000 at "market" values. Many things need to happen for a landlord to get that, but the first step is always the same - the tenant has to leave.