Interesting Legal Case of Renter vs Landlord

manhattan apartment rental, rent in manhattanBy Jay Romano in the NY Times online.

Q My daughter has a lease on a first-floor apartment in Brooklyn that gives her exclusive use of the backyard as part of the rental space. Recently, the landlord installed a second door to the backyard from an adjacent apartment, effectively giving both my daughter and the other tenant use of the area. When she asked the landlord for a reduction in rent because the backyard was no longer her private domain, the landlord refused. What can she do?

A “The landlord appears to have committed a grave error,” said Thomas P. Higgins, a Manhattan landlord-tenant lawyer. Since the lease defines the tenant’s space as including the backyard, Mr. Higgins said, the landlord has no right to let others use it. “A lease gives a tenant the exclusive right to use and possession of specified property for a particular term,” he said. When a landlord permits others to use part of the tenant’s space without permission, that constitutes an unlawful eviction of the tenant. “A landlord who unlawfully evicts a tenant, even from a portion of the premises, faces significant liability,” Mr. Higgins said, itemizing these possibilities: “a discharge of the tenant’s duty to pay rent, monetary damages that can be tripled at the court’s discretion, and payment of the tenant’s attorneys’ fees.”

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Written by Lorenzo

Lorenzo has been hanging around the RDNY.com office for the past 20 years, and, in the process, has become the president of RDNY.com, Rent-Direct.com, and Acmelistings.com. His mission is to build RDNY.com into New York's largest no fee apartment rental service. Before RDNY.com, Lorenzo was a Regional Sales Manager for Time Equities, Inc., one of New York's largest converters of rental buildings to coops and condos. Lorenzo was once a part owner of Swift & Watson Real Estate in NYC's Greenwich Village.

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