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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Default Temporary Renter Threatening A Lawsuit

    My question involves a roommate in the State of: NY

    (I'm reposting with a different title in the hopes of getting more responses and since my initial post accidentally went out before I could finish it.)

    Here we go...
    I temporarily rented out my room via craigslist from April 1st until January 31st. The room is in a non-rent stabilized loft where I have been on the lease since 2004. There is one other lease holder besides me and we have two occupants. Our total rent is $2075 and we divide the room rents based on seniority and the money I spent to build the rooms, furnish the apartment. We divided it 212.50 (lease holders) and 850, and 800 (other occupants). All people living there write checks to the landlord directly. I should add that this loft is in a neighborhood that has exploded since I moved in - now, the area rentals are far high than when I moved in.

    Anyway, all of this was fine until I decided to temporarily take over a sublet through February where I could experience living alone after years of multiple roommates. I did not sign a new lease, but have some utilities in my name where I'm staying. I rented out my room for market value (I had the best room), which I found to be $975 based on the number of responses to my craigslist posting and people interested in the room after seeing it. The person I chose has been a total nightmare....

    I had him sign a temporary contract with me through July and at that time he could choose to stay until February or leave. A month ago he asked me about the division of rents at the place and his rent share. I responded to him truthfully and he stated he was fine with it, but it would effect his decision to renew in July. He assured me that he would stay until July and provided me with post-dated checks, which he did.

    At the end of May he told me that he would be leaving by the end of June and using his security for that month's rent. He said that if I gave him any problems that he would take "legal action" taking me to small claims and informing the landlords of an illegal sublet. I told him that using his deposit as rent was fine, but since I wasn't prepared for his move out I would prefer to use the June check as planned and give him his deposit when someone else took over the temporary rental. His response was that he canceled the checks and again threatened "legal action" and also informing the landlords. Most recently, he wrote me saying that has found a place for the 15th of June and that he is demanding $500 cash by Sunday to cover half of June rent or again, he will send a letter to the landlord (which he attached) and sue me at small claims court. Additionally, my roommate informed me that he has padlocked the bedroom door.

    What should I do? What are my legal rights and how hard would it be for the landlords (who are very hands off) to evict us; how hard would it be for him to sue me (and win); and what are my rights if he doesn't remove the padlock on Sunday? This guy does not seem very stable and I think I ought to take his lunacy seriously. I fear that his blackmailing will not end since he has already changed our his agreement with me three times despite getting what he wants up to this point. "agreement" I'll post email correspondence separately removing our names or private info. Thanks for any and all advice... M.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Default Emails: Temporary Renter From Hell - Small Claims Court And Landlord Involvement???

    These follow our phone conversation where he stated he was fine with the situation (one month prior). He called me, leaving a message that he was moving out at the end of June and was using his deposit for June rent. There have been no verbal or face-to-face conversations since his voice mail. These are the emails since that last voice mail: (BTW, after re-reading his last email, I realize that he’s threatening to hold the keys for the loft if I don’t give him the cash.)

    1-) Date: Fri, 30 May 2008 14:30:19 -0400
    Hi B.,

    I'm at work today and so it's a little tricky to call, but I wanted to get back to you as soon as possible since its regarding money, etc. I understand that you're not happy with the sublet situation and I hope you find something better soon. I know that there were also personality conflicts within the apartment so your decision not to stay doesn't surprise me. Perhaps this is for the best as I will definitely be returning February 1st. Anyway, I'm sorry it didn't work out and I wish you the best while in NYC.

    I don't anticipate it being a problem to find someone for July 1 as there were many people who wanted the room in April and I will post it ASAP; however, since it's before our 3 month agreement, I am unprepared to use your security as rent for June 1st. This means I will use your June 1 check as agreed upon and as as soon as I get the replacement security from the new person (hopefully between 6/15-20 and possibly before), I can give it to you. I can return your old July 1 check at that time too.

    Since it's in both of our best interest to get someone in the room, I ask that you please be accommodating when I need to show it and I will be duly respectful in informing you in advance when I'll be coming by with someone.

    Good luck with your search and I'll be in touch when I get some responses...

    2.) Date: May 31, 2008 12:08 AM

    The June and July checks are already cancelled. The deposit will go for June rent. You are profiting roughly $700 from me each month I live here. Our "sub-lease" is completely illegal as you never cleared it with your landlord. If you have any problems with this arrangement I will gladly refer you to my lawyer. I will take you to small claims court if you press this issue and I will alert your landlord of your "arrangment". I think they would be interested to know how much profit you are making from their property. Let us just end this arrangement in a pleasant matter. Have you not made enough money before your next "tentant" moves in?


    3.) Date: Sat, 31 May 2008 11:47:25 -0400

    Fine B. No need to get nasty - this is not a personal matter as you dont know me and I dont know you. I am definitely interested in a diplomatic approach to just about everything in my life. Just to clarify with you, I am not banking your money. I just graduated with my MSW and am working part time for $13/hour until I get licensed while applying for jobs. That's just the way it goes upon leaving school and I knew that going into it.

    Although this is neither here nor there, l'll explain my situation to you and hence where the difference in rent is actually going. I am currently subletting an apartment from someone who is charging me more than she paid for her 1 bedroom. Why? Because she's charging me market value price and 10 people would have taken it in a heartbeat because it's in XXXX. NYC is clearly an insanely expensive city. I pay 1450/month for the chance to live alone in XXXX 3 blocks from my boyfriend's place until February. So by renting my room for "market value" I can afford to have the experience of living alone for a few months as I can afford to pay the difference from 1450 on a social worker salary - which, isn't exactly known to be lucrative. I wanted to live alone before I probably move in with my boyfriend - that's all. I am aware that my rent at my new place is higher than she pays, but I'm OK with it since it's sort of expected here. People do what they can to live here and I've definitely learned that in the 6 years I've lived here. So anyway, I am not sitting on a big pile of your money. Additionally, your deposit money went to my deposit on the 1450 and that's why I wanted to wait to have someone else in the place to pay it to you. I thought that whomever subleased would get it back when I got my deposit back, which to me, makes sense. Furthermore, I'm sure that the majority of sublets on craigslist are "illegal" whether they're rented for more or the same amount. You really took this pretty far, B., and I'm pretty amazed at that. Please consider - for a second - what you would do if you inherited the XXXX street lease next spring.

    As for the other apartment occupants excluding XXXX and me, it is legal to rent to two additional occupants at (again) market value. Each tenant on the lease is allowed 1 "occupant" not including family members/spouses. XXXX and I (as lease holders) pay the difference in rent after the other two shares totaling the 2100. No profits are made even though it would be considered "legal" in NYS if we were doing that. No doubt the landlords would be pissed - I'm sure they want me out of that place since they could flip it for thousands more to new tenants. The neighborhood changed over the past few years and it's worth a lot more today than when I moved in 2004. Both of the other roommates would find it nearly impossible to find a rental in our neighborhood where they would pay that or less. Rents suck now more than ever and for the amount they're paying at our place, they would be in a shithole in XXXX. I'm sure you'll experience some of these lovely places when you look this month.

    So, B., I rented my room for a few months so that I could live alone after being in the loft for 5 years (where yeah, we paid a fee and spent a lot of money to build the place). For the past two years I've paid less rent (as did XXXX who has no money to her name) than the other two occupants. During this time I was a full-time grad student without a job. I did what I needed to do to continue to live in this city. Morally, I'm pretty fine with it and until you moved in no one ever objected. So despite whatever feelings you have right now, this is what I did and this is what plenty other New Yorkers do. When I give up the lease, I hope someone else who couldn't otherwise afford the city gets to have what I had.

    4.) Date: Jun 1, 2008 2:31 AM

    $975 is not market value for a "room" in this loft. Do you really think the landlord could charge $3,900 ($975 X 4) for this space? You took advantage of someone new to New York and you will continue to do so making whatever justifications to yourself you find necessary. I have been looking at nice two bedroom apartments in Williamsburg for $1800. My share of the rent would be $800 or $900 for a real room with real walls and sharing a nice living room and kitchen with one other person. You lived in this loft paying roughly $200 a month rent, allowing D. and R. to essentially pay almost all of your rent. Who pays $200 a month rent in NYC? You then took this a step further; renting out your room at even more then the already over-inflated price you were charging D. and R. And yes you make a large profit, between $700 and $800, each month. If you choose to spend this large profit on a very expensive one bedroom apartment, that is your choice. But you are still making a large monthly profit from me.

    The primary reason I am moving out is because I am not happy with the distribution of rent and the outrageous profit you are making from me every month. The only “personality conflicts” I have experienced in this loft, that you so passive-aggressively mention in your e-mail, is a discussion with XXXX about how much rent she paid. She would not tell me how much she paid. Not surprising. By the way, R. and D. are not happy with the rent situation either; perhaps because it is unfair and exploitive. In fact, I don’t think XXXX was happy when you decided to rent your room out at profit and took all your furniture with you, leaving her as the sole person on the lease that actually lives here and with no furniture. I might even say that no one that lives in the loft is happy with you – your manipulative actions and simply you as a person.

    I was not bluffing about having a lawyer. A friend of mine is a real estate lawyer in NYC and has offered to take on my case at no charge, with the approval of the company she works for. If you should give me any problems over the next month, I will take legal action. You will lose your lease for sure. I could also take you to small claims court and sue you for the illegal profit you made from me. I would rather not go there myself. Your choice.
    5.) Date: June 2, 2008 8:24 PM
    Stop harassing me. As you requested, your deposit has covered your June rent payment and I accepted your early contract termination; therefore, I am confused about what unresolved business there is between us that is prompting your attempts to intimidate and threaten me. If you feel it is worth taking "legal action" over a written agreement you made to me to temporarily rent my room from me for four months for the price that you agreed to pay to me, I'll see you on Judge Judy.

    I am open to communicating with you regarding questions about your move out transition such as keys, utilities, and coordination of schedules. For anything other than that, I am done dealing with you directly. M.
    6.) Date: June 2, 2008 8:54 PM.,

    I feel the same way. Don't pay victim here. You are not.


    7.) June 11, 2008 8:18 PM
    XXXX told me you're moving out Sunday. I will be by Monday to clean and pick up the keys. Please leave them on the kitchen island. M.

    I found an apartment and will be vacating the loft by June 15. Since you have $1,000 of mine which was applied for June rent, unfortunately I will have to ask for half of it back. Since in your own words “there were many people who wanted the room in April,” you should have no problem replacing me. I know you will not willingly give it back to me, so I have drawn up a letter to your landlord, which I will send if you do not cooperate.

    The letter is attached as a word document to this e-mail and also pasted to this e-mail. I am not sure to whom exactly to send the letter - so I will send one to XXXX and XXXX. If these addresses are not exactly right, I can find out who owns the property with the assistance of my lawyer and a NYC property data base. I would like $500 in CASH on Sunday, June 15, in exchange for the loft keys, or this letter will promptly be sent to your landlord. Additionally my lawyer will assist me in pursuing the matter in small claims court. $500 is only a quarter of the more than $2,000 in pure profit you have made from me in the past two and a half months. Please keep in mind, the outcome of this letter being sent to the landlord will most likely be a termination of your lease.

    To Whom It May Concern:

    Hello. I am writing you to inform you of illegal profit being made from your property at XXXX. I am currently subleasing a “room” in this loft space but am moving into my own apartment on June 15. I moved into the sublease two months ago on April 1. As far as I understand there are two people on the lease: XXXX and XXXX. As far as I know, they signed a one year lease starting on January 2008 for $2,100.

    The loft has four shabby “rooms” constructed with sheet rock and can theoretically house four people. XXXX found roommates through She charged her two “tenants,” R. and D., $800 and $850 a month respectively. These over-priced rents left XXXX and XXXX to split the remaining rent of $450, presumably $225 each monthly.

    XXXX, however, took this situation one step further. She figured she could rent her room out for even more money than the other roommates were paying, make a profit and live elsewhere. So she advertised a room in a loft on for $975 a month. I responded to the ad being new to New York City and thinking that the price sounded right. I assumed I was simply taking over her rent while she lived elsewhere. She asked me to pay her directly and she would pay the landlord, as to not complicate things. I paid XXXX $975 a month, while she only paid the landlord $225. So each month I lived here, she profited $750 dollars a month from the property. In the past three months, she has made roughly $2,250 pure profit from me. I presume it is a profit that you would like to be making from your property, rather than your tenant.

    I figured out the situation about three weeks ago and decided to move out as soon as I could. As far as the property is concerned she plans on continuing to rent out her “room” and to profit roughly $750 a month, while she lives elsewhere. By the end of her current lease she will have profited more than $6,000 from the property. Not only does she plan on continuing for the remainder of the lease; but, she wants to resign the lease and keep the loft as a way to earn additional income for years to come.

    XXXX is currently advertising on for a new “tenant.” She is now renting her room for $960 a month, which would still earn her $735 a month pure profit from your property. I have included a link to her ad so you can see for yourself ( She is currently residing at ___________. Her telephone number is _________. Her regular e-mail is _________ and her e-mail is

    I have included a copy of our sub-lease contract, so you can see the numbers for yourself. I have also included a printed out copy of her ad for your property. I pass along this information so you can know how much illegal profit is being made from your property. Personally, I want her to stop taking advantage of people. Do with this information what you will. Thanks for your time and attention to this matter.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Default Re: Emails: Temporary Renter From Hell - Small Claims Court And Landlord Involvement?

    Your landlord either cares or does not care about your subtenant. That's something to clear up with your landlord. If the subtenant was paying your landlord directly, the answer seems to be that he doesn't care.

    If he sues you, you can present your case in court. I'm not sure what he would be suing you over. Make sure you comply fully with security deposit laws.

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