General Question

Kairi's avatar

Can she do this?

Asked by Kairi (561 points ) May 24th, 2014

My landlady sent me a text this morning saying that I have to pay her what I owe in late fees by Monday or move out on that same day.

Not only am I almost certain she is overcharging me, but isn’t this an illegal eviction? In new york state, where I am, you get 30 days notice to move out and have to be served an eviction notice, not a text. It is a holiday weekend and a weekend nonetheless so I can’t get help to move or the money by Monday.

She claims that it is a “extended stay lease” and therefore she doesn’t need to give me 30 days. Isn’t she wrong? All my legal consultation has said yes but she still won’t listen and has been making snippets comments like “you should he a second job” and “I shouldn’t have to suffer because of your poor choices” and when I said I get paid Thursday and can pay then, she said “how much will I be expecting? Because I doubt tou will have enough”. All of this was said by text as I am at work and she can’t come here nor can I make phone calls.

I know its illegal but i’m still nervous she will call the cops on my boyfriend and I over it and I am pretty certain she may have updated the lease since I signed it and just did not inform me.

This is also a place where they complain if I make noise at night because they are trying to get to sleep when they know I work nights and yet bump around and make excessive noises when I try to sleep in the mornings but then tell me its daylight so they can do what they want and I can’t complain about it. One neighbor even had my car towed for block in a driveway when I was on the other side of the street and nowhere near the driveway.

So long story brought to a simple question. Can she legally do this?

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82 Answers

Judi's avatar

Do you pay by the month or the week? Also, how long have you lived there?

Kairi's avatar

Judi,
I pay by the month n I have lived here since January

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Here in Cali she would have to serve you with a “3 day or quit” or quit 1st. Then if you still did not pay she would have to file an eviction against you. I never heard of an “extended stay”, that must be something indicative to your area.

Darth_Algar's avatar

If she has to give you 30 days and an eviction notice then she has to give you 30 days and an eviction notice. She can’t legally evict you otherwise, even if she brings the police. And if she “updated” the least after you signed it then you’re not legally bound to that lease ether. You’re only bound to the lease you signed, written as it was when you signed it.

Kairi's avatar

@hypocrisy_central I’ve never even heard of it before. We never studied it in contract law (i’m a criminal justice major)

Kairi's avatar

@Darth_algae if she forged my signature on a new lease, I have to prove it somehow though.
I’m just worried the police won’t help me, because they have a track record of not helping people when they should in my area.

Kairi's avatar

Not to say i’m against the police or anything, just something that’s been common in the area

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Kairi

Do you have a copy of the lease? If so you’ll be able to show that the lease you have does not match the one she would be claiming you signed. If don’t have a copy then why the hell not?

But honestly that’s kind of moot, since it’s just worried speculation on your part. The more important point is that she cannot evict you without 30 days and an eviction notice.

Kairi's avatar

I’m pretty sure I have a copy of it in my possession, yes.

Thats what I thought but I wanted to be sure. The people I work with and all my friends say it but I wasn’t 100%

jca's avatar

She can’t do that. You make sure you have your copy of the lease handy and give someone else a copy, in case she decides to go into your house and do something sneaky (not that she could legally, but you never know).

I would plan to move out asap, anyway, since she sounds like a jerk and the neighbor towing your car away tells me it’s a crazy situation.

Kairi's avatar

@jca we didnt have issues until the be neighbors moved into the apartment connected to mine. But I agree, she could do that. She went in earlier to turn down heat but my bf was there and she left quick after doing so. I’ll try and get a copy to a friend as soon as I can. Im looking for apartments but cant afford any atm.

jca's avatar

@Kairi: Do you live in a multi-family house or in a building?

Judi's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central they have extended stays here in CA but I believe that if the person has stayed more than a month the month to month rules apply.
@Kairi I know that New York has housing rules that strongly favor the resident. If you pay by the month my guess is that you are in a month to month tenancy regardless of what she wants to call it.
Since I am not familiar with New your law (I would consider myself an expert in Landlord Tenant Law in California although I am not an attorney, but a former Real Estate Broker with 25 plus years experience in residential property management) I suggest you start with information straight from New York. ”Here’s one of many links I found.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Do you have a key to your door?
Do you have a written lease?

She must serve you a 3 day pay or quit notice and/or then serve you a 30 day notice. If you fail to leave she must serve you a summons to appear before a magistrate. You have the option to respond to fight this action (that will take 3 – 4 months even with the expedited trials that property trials of this sort get).
Even after you lose the case you can allow another person to reside in the dwelling and with a key to the door as their proof of residing there you can get another 2 week extension from the day the sheriffs should show up to physically remove you.

The landlady knows this and is hoping to snow you, intimidate you and get you to just up and leave because she says so.

CWOTUS's avatar

No one else seems to have mentioned the issue of “late fees” that you led off with. Do you owe fees for late payment of rent? How late have you been, what are the fees outstanding, and how long have they been in arrears? More to the point, what does the lease say about your payment date, late fees, and recourse if you fail to pay those on time?

In general I agree with others who say that if you have a signed lease, then you’re bound by the terms of the lease as you signed it, notwithstanding any unilateral changes that she has made to it. (This is not to say that you can’t both agree to amend the lease; I’m sure that’s perfectly legal, but she can’t make changes and then say “these are the new terms” without your agreement.)

If she calls the police, then simply try to stay away from her while they arrive – if they even do. They may not even respond to her call unless she lies and says there is a disturbance or threat of violence. So don’t give any pretext or excuse for her to make up any such story. Stay calm. Stay away from her while she talks to them. Invite them into your apartment and stay seated and as relaxed as possible – even though you may be very upset inwardly, and who could blame you? But make them see that you are not a wild woman; you’re no threat to anyone.

I would also recommend that you sit down with your landlady at some point and have a discussion about how your living arrangement is far from ideal for either party, and find out if she has any recommendations for a new place for you to move to. Make it clear that if you can break the lease without penalty and with a full return of your damage deposit, that you would be more than willing to do that. And then make those plans. You certainly can’t enjoy living this way.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

@Kairi If the police are called and you can show them the key to the door in your possession and/or a lease in your name, they will simply walk away.

Judi's avatar

@CWOTUS , I don’t know about New York, but in California, in a month to month tenancy a Landlord can change the terms (assuming the changes are lawful) with thirty day written notice even if the tenant doesn’t sign off on it. In some cases it may require a 60 day notice if the tenant has lived there over a year. New York may have a completely different set of rules.

Kairi's avatar

@java home converted into apartments

Kairi's avatar

@Judi thanks for the links!

Kairi's avatar

* @jca not @java phone autocorrected

Kairi's avatar

@cwotus to me cops have a hard enough time as it is so I dont see a point in making things more difficult for them. I dont like it. I feel like i’m a lesser person then the other are in her eyes because I had the setback with my job. She refuses to budge on anything or really listen to what I have to day.

As far as late fees go, its $5 a day for each day late. By my math I owe 370, which I am more then happy to pay once I get paid. But to her its 670 and she only wants that in full regardless of what I show her. I even over paid in February but that money doesnt seem to carry over, as if it had never happened. She did n start charging late fees until April so there is no way I even owe that much in back payment of late fees.

Kairi's avatar

@dan_lyons I hope they at least say something to her. I cant be the first tenant she did this to.

Kairi's avatar

I’m also slightly terrified of police because of an incident when I was younger, but that’s another story, so fighting would be rather stupid on my part. I cant trust my boyfriend to keep his mouth shut but hopefully he leaves for nyc before this all happens

Dan_Lyons's avatar

@Kairi This may help you get over your fear of police since they will be on your side.

GloPro's avatar

Print out the tenant rights for NY and tack it to the front of the house by the door. Highlight all o the rights that pertain to you, INCLUDING the fact that she may not enter your home without 24-hour prior notice to do so. She cannot legally just come change the locks without violating multiple rights. Then let her be a dick. The digger she digs herself in the better your case in court. She’s obviously a moron for threatening you with illegal actions via text. You have plenty of documentation.

And start looking for a new place to live. It’s inevitable.

Kairi's avatar

@dan_lyons hopefully

Kairi's avatar

@glopro I have several places i am looking at already but have to wait until after the holiday to actually see or hear back.
If im not home, my boyfriend normally is, so we should be okay as far as that goes. She works for the government so she thinks she knows the laws better then I do, but I know them fairly well myself from my schooling. I’ll be sure to get a copy of them.

CWOTUS's avatar

You’re right to be somewhat wary of the police, because they typically do not want to (and from experiences I’ve heard of “will not”) be involved in landlord-tenant disputes until things get very ugly. That’s why I suggest that your best course of action with them is to demonstrate by your words and actions that you’re not a threat to anyone.

However, your admission that you owe $370 in late fees, built up at a rate of $5 per day, indicates that you’re over two months late with the rent. That’s 74 days – which you admit to. I can understand your landlady’s reluctance to carry you as a tenant. She should not have to care or be concerned about your job or your employer’s late payment of wages or anything else. She wants her money! If you haven’t paid rent for two months then that makes you a deadbeat.

So it appears on the face of things that you have already broken the lease by not paying rent, which is the major problem here, aside from any other disputes you have with her or with other neighbors on the side.

It’s always foolish to believe that “the police will be on your side” – that’s nonsense, especially in this case – but you can and should present yourself as ‘low risk’.

GloPro's avatar

I was suggesting posting them so that she is aware you are researching your rights and won’t be pushed around without you actually having to talk to her. You don’t need to go back and forth if it stressed you out. Just say I know my rights and leave it alone.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

@Kairi The police will be on your side in this case because you have the key and a lease. You have the law on your side. It is not nonsense. It is reality.

I used to rent apartments in L.A. knowing I would only be paying the 1st and last and some sort of security deposit because I knew I was not going to pay another cent.

I would then live rent free for 6 to 7 months before going through the entire eviction process and finally being forced to leave. By then I would find another place or live homeless in the parks or at the beach.

I used the rental laws (in which I became somewhat of an expert) to my benefit. Yes, the rental laws are incredibly one-sided in favor of the tenant.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I could not believe the difficulty my parents had in evicting a tenant who had not only not paid rent in half a year, but was also intentionally damaging the property. It took going to court to get an order to evict, they had to give the man 30 days to get out, and when 30 days came and went they still had to go back to court to get the order enforced.

(Note: this was in Illinois.)

Kairi's avatar

@cwotus she knows how often I get paid and it is ok with her to pay every time I get paid. I’m not too sure I did my math right. Those calculations were before my last payments from a few days ago. Those payments were used to pay what I owed. Therefore I should actually be caught up to this month. I had been caught up last I checked but the information I went off of to get 370 did not include the most recent payments.
I dont 100% trust police because they have refused to help me before when I needed it for other issues

Judi's avatar

Have you received any written notices before this? Have you checked and made sure you boyfriend doesn’t have the notices? if you’re two months behind she may have already started the eviction and she is telling you when your final exit date is, but you should have received that from the court.

Kairi's avatar

@glopro our communications faded when I told her I begin work at 7:30am tomorrow, not 7:30 pm. I work until midnight both days and dont get home until around 1am. She seemed annoyed by this but there isnt much I can do about that considering I live 45 minutes or so from work

Kairi's avatar

@dan_lyons rental laws do seem to favor tenants sometimes but in be new york it may not be so.

Kairi's avatar

@darth_algar sounds like quite a hassle they went through! If he was such a threat, courts should have done more.

jca's avatar

NY has pretty liberal laws that tend to favor tenants.

Kairi's avatar

@judi he hardly leaves the bedroom unless i am there, so he hasn’t seen anything. She has stated ahe doesn’t need to give us 30 days and she has not done so ever. We got one text message threat saying we will he kicked out if the neighbors complain about our noise again, but there has been no complaint since so that died down. I have never received anything in writing, only this one message this morning via text message. I received nothing from a court either. Our mailing address doesn’t even work!

Judi's avatar

I wouldn’t want to be a landlord in New York!

Kairi's avatar

@jca im not really food with real estate law so I dont know from experience. It wouldn’t surprise me at the seam time that it would.

GloPro's avatar

If your mailing address doesn’t work you have no idea if she has mailed anything notarized to you or not.

Kairi's avatar

@glopro anything sent to our address for to her mailbox cuz im a rear apartment and the mailman cant go back there. I got mail there once and it as a w2 form which she opened, having thot it was for her.

Judi's avatar

In my market, as soon as the rent is delinquent I write a three day notice to pay rent or quit. The resident has three days to either pay the rent or move. If they don’t I gather all my paperwork and take it to an attorney who writes up an “Unlawful Detainer” and has it served by a process server. If the tenant does nothing I get an eviction date usually within 30 days, usually less and the Sheriff comes and supervises my maintenance person changing the locks. If the person hasn’t vacated they have to schedule a time at my connivence to pick up their possessions but they are locked out of the apartment.
If the answer the “Unlawful Detainer” then we are issued a court date to each present our case before a judge. The judge has always ruled in my favor because the person owed the money. Then we get an eviction date and the Sherif comes and we change the locks as above.
I know that laws vary by state but if you haven’t been served legal documents I can’t see how she can evict you.
I would collect all your canceled checks and create a ledger of every penny you have given her. I don’t accept partial payments just because of the mess it appears you have going on. The person with the best kept records will have the respect of the judge she it comes down to it.

jca's avatar

It seems like you’ll not only be fighting not to get kicked out but fighting about the amount of fees that you owe or don’t owe.

Kairi's avatar

@judi thats highly understandable. But she has never served me papers nor was anything like this in the rental agreement.

Judi's avatar

The eviction process doesn’t have to be in the rental agreement. It’ in the state law.

Kairi's avatar

@jca im certain I dont owe what she is claiming. What I am moat fighting is the eviction because it is illegal and because neither of us have a place to go. Also it is a holiday weekend so we cant logically get help because no one is in town on my end and all his are in nyc

Kairi's avatar

@judi I meant the late payment thing. But yes, I do know it for an have to be in the agreement but it is state law for 30 days. If she does it the way you do, its a different story. However, she is saying its 3 days and thats it. I feel like she picked today to tell me on purpose, knowing it was a holiday and that my hands would be tied.

Judi's avatar

A Three day pay or quit says just that. I have no idea if a text would be an acceptable document but the court could say that that text WAS your three day pay or quit. She can demand that you leave in three days but she can’t lock you out. That would be a an illegal eviction and you could sue her pants off. Only he court can issue a legal eviction. (again, I’m no attorney and I don’t know New York laws.)

jca's avatar

I would just respond to her text that there are laws and you suggest she learn them and work within them.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

You are being given incorrect information here. If you aren’t confused you should be. If you can use Fluther, you can read the code.

http://www.ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/pdfs/publications/Tenant_Rights_2011.pdf

http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/RPP/7

Kairi's avatar

@judi ive never heard that be for. And it has to be in writing I believe.

Kairi's avatar

@jca she’ll go after me harder if I do that

Kairi's avatar

@mollymcguire thank you. I will look that over at work later today.

Judi's avatar

@Kairi you’re probably right but a judge might decide that a text is in writing. I would take nothing for granted.

jca's avatar

@Kairi: Harder than trying to kick you out within two days? What could be harder than that? Who cares if she goes after you harder? There are laws that protect you, that’s my point. She needs to stop the empty threats. The threats cause you anxiety and make her feel empowered, but they’re illegal, so you want her to stop.

Kairi's avatar

@judi I wont. From what i read briefly in what @mollymcguire posted, only a court can evict me.

Kairi's avatar

@jca I have anxiety and depression issues (diagnosed) so it does make me feel high anxiety. I attempted to take my own life this morning because of it but I stopped

Judi's avatar

In @MollyMcGuire ‘s link it doesn’t really talk about unlawful evictions except to talk about harassment. It also say that if they lie to you about the law they can be fined up to $5000.
I just read your response to @jca! Are you under a doctors care? I am glad you said something here but you need to reach out if you are feeling that desperate. Would you like us to help you look up suicide prevention resources for you?

jca's avatar

@Kairi: What @Judi said. You want her harassment to stop. She needs a reminder that there are laws that you all live under.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

A text is a written communication which may be admitted into evidence in a court of law. There may be a requirement of authentication.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

@Judi I think you must have only read the Tenant’s Rights document. I also added the entire New York state tenant/landlord statute.

Judi's avatar

@MollyMcGuire , You’re probably right. I went through the table of contents to look at what might be applicable and read those sections. I didn’t notice there was another document attached.

Judi's avatar

@MollyMcGuire , What section on that other document do you think applies to this situation?
I am glad I’m in California. The language on some of these laws was probably written over 100 years ago. California legalese is hard too but I’ve grown accustom to it. Some of this almost reads like a different language!

GloPro's avatar

@Kairi If you are experiencing suicidal ideation you need to go to the Emergency Room or call a suicide hotline immediately. Those feelings are hard to overcome alone and you should not hurt yourself! Please take care of yourself first and deal with this later.

JLeslie's avatar

I skimmed the answers and if you basically are considered to be on a month to month at this point you need to start looking for a new place to live in my opinion. Even if your landlady has not followed the proper procedure to date, once she figures out the actual law, the laws probably are a simple 30 day notice in writing even in NY, where I agree the laws tend to highly favor the tenant. I was always taught to send this sort of notice certified mail so there is proof it was delivered. I guess maybe if you responded to the text that would be proof, but I am not sure what the laws are regarding that.

Call 311 if you are in NYC and see if they can put you in touch with someone who knows the laws. Trying to figure it all out online can be difficult.

Do you have a relative who might be able to help you? Ask for help. Consider calling a suicide hotline to talk through your stress.

Kairi's avatar

@judi I was but no more. I talk to a crisis chat line through so im ok.

Kairi's avatar

@glopro its something ive learned to deal with. This on the other hand im still work in on. There are two of us to think of concerning this. Its not just me that needs somewhere to go.

Kairi's avatar

@Leslie im not nyc but we have 211 for out area. I called but the only place they have is closed until Tuesday, which will be too late

No I don’t have any relatives rhat know a thing abiut this. Just my friends do and I want to keep it that way.

GloPro's avatar

“I attempted to take my own life this morning because of it but I stopped.”

This is not a statement someone would make if they had truly learned to deal with it. Please call your crisis hotline again. You are under a lot of stress and I just want you to stay safe as you get the house worked out. They can listen to your frustrations, too.

Kairi's avatar

@glopro unfortunately i’m at work all day and can’t make private calls. All I can do is use the texting service.

susanc's avatar

I am a landlord in Washington State and have been for about forty years in many different situations. People love renting from me because I’m understanding and I can work things out with people if they’re honest and coherent. I would not want you as a renter. You’re kind of a headcase. You don’t pay your rent on time, you complain a lot, you don’t do your research, you don’t get good advice, you don’t have your technology in order, and everything is always somebody else’s fault. I would do whatever it took to get you to go away. Just a heads up, girl.

Kairi's avatar

@Susan I understand where you are coming from. I am more then happy to pay what I owe, but I do believe there are some miscalculations in what is exactly owed. I have done my math and she has done hers, so I would like to compare and see where we were off, if nothing else. She seems unwilling to do that with me, but we shall see what happens when I sit down with her tomorrow.
I do know, however, that three days notice (two if you dont count monday) is not legally nor logically enough time. Especially on a holiday weekend.

Kairi's avatar

*@Susanc auto correct, sorry

jca's avatar

@Kairi: But you do admit you are two months behind, at the minimum, yes?

JLeslie's avatar

@Kairi Have you been warned before? In FL I think for residential on a month to month it is still 15 days notice and if the person doesn’t get their shit together then the police post an order on the door for the tenant to evacuate the premises in 48 hours I think? It might have changed since I first learned the law. If they are not out the landlord can clean out the apartment themselves of all the belongings and change the lock. I assume NY is a little more liberal towards the tenant.

Whatever the case, if you had a disagreement on the amount if you had paid at minimum your basic rent amount it probably would have helped, and then you can go over anything extra with the landlord. Fighting about the numbers while still not giving the landlord anything seems like a stall tactic. The landlord has to pay their bills, so you being late can make them late for their own obligations.

You are hoping the law protects you, and it very well might, but you would feel better if you simply were doing the right thing. You are creating some of your own stress and depression.

She does not care about logic, she wants to get rid of a bad tenant.

It sounds like you have been working, I don’t understand why you have paid zero rent in two months. Maybe I am missing something, I hate to assume and maybe I did not read through the answers well enough.

Kairi's avatar

@jca at minimum, I owe late fees for this month. Everything else I have paid off

Kairi's avatar

@jleslie I have paid the rent and the late fees every month, even going without food or gas for the car (my parents let me borrow theirs for work on weekends) in order to do so. I don’t get paid until Thursday so I can’t give her any money anyway. I have 50 cents or so to my name right now.

JLeslie's avatar

@Kairi Can you move in with your parents and save for a few months to get ahead of the eight ball? As long as you are struggling so much and behin in paying bills (I absolutely believe you are doing your best and want to do what’s right) your expenses are more expensive. If you pay late fees that is probably a few less meals for you and incredible stress. Getting some savings and always being able to pay on time will save you money.

Financial stress is some of the worst stress, I empathasize, I went through a time where I could not afford my bills. Luckily, my dad floated me some money and I went back to a job that paid enough.

Kairi's avatar

@jleslie im planning on moving back with them while my bf is in nyc (he leaves Wednesday and his from there so he is staying with his parents) so I can save. We found a place thats a lot cheaper then our current one, so we are looking into it. Im glad your father was able to help you in your time of need.

JLeslie's avatar

@Kairi Did you give where you live security and last month’s rent? If so, maybe just move out now and don’t pay any back rent. Unless you think you will be black listed some how.

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