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This seems almost Surreal

Posted by needsleep (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 30, 07 at 9:39

Have been in my apartment for 2 years. For the entire time, my friend has been visitng me here 2 or 3 times a week, usually leaving at around 1 AM. One night of the weekeend, there is one Doorman who is not fit to be a Doorman. At 1 or 2 AM, people come & go, but he is often not there. He is off with his girlfriend usually, sometimes in his apartment, sometimes in a closed office. Not only are the doors to the building wide open & not guarded, but he keeps the keys to the cars that are parked in the GUEST parking area. If someone wants to get their keys, they have to wait for him. BUT the keys are kept right on his desk at the front door for anyone to take.

I have complained about him many times to the management. Other tenants have complained to me about him, but none have complained to management out of fear of retaliation. He is the Super's son.

One eevning, my friend left at 2 AM, and there was no Doorman to be found. She waited several minutes, looked in the office, walked around looking for him, but no success. So she decided she would take her own keys & leave. But her keys were not to be found. She finally found them, scattered along with several others, on a shelf of the Doorman's table. Next morning (SUNDAY) at 8 AM I get a call from the Doorman: "A guest of one of the tenants wants to go home but her keys are missing. Last night's doorman thinks he left the keys in your friend's car when he moved it. Can you call her & ask her to come back here (20 minute drive) and bring tehe keys. " I also have a note to that effect from the tenant slipped under my door. I call her - no keys in her car. She has her son look - no keys.
I go down to the Doorman's station & we are looking together. He finds keys that had gone missing some time ago, but not this one guest's. The Guest's husband had to drive 3 hours to bring her keys About an hour later, the Doorman finds the key on the floor behind the desk. I get Thank You note from the Tenant, and a few days later I find a gift from this tenant lying at my door for my troubles.
That Doorman no longer works here, and this week they installed security cameras in the area.

Fast forward a few weeks. Lease due for renewal. I sign it to renew for another year (It is generally a nice apartment - beter than anything in the area).

I see the Super in the Hall & he then says "Your friend has a problem with the Doormen I ask what he means & he replies that "She stole the keys." WHAT!!!!!!

Next time my friend shows up here, the Doorman (NOT the Offending Doorman as he no longer works here. The Doormen all know & like my friend and are always accomodating.), tells her that she is not allowed to park here on orders of management. This apartment borders a not-so-nice neighborhood, and there is a very steep, block long hill, unlit, to go up to get here. To not park here, she'd have to park blocks away & walk in the dark, at 1 AM (when she usually leaves). She is flabbergasted! I am incensed. The Doorman explains he doesn't know why, just his orders. On the wall right by his desk is a hand-written note with my apartment # on it saying my guests may not park in guest parking.
While the Doorman is telling her this she is debating with the Doorman (He eventually allowed her to park there, AFTER THE SUPER LEFT FOR THE NIGHT). At this time the Tenant who had thanked me & left me the gift sees my friend & severely verbally abuses & assaults her, screaming at her and calls her names, for stealing his guest's keys!

I write & call the management Co. Here is where it REALLY gets nuts.
They tell me that the Super told them that she stays overnight most nights so she is really a tenant & must therefore park in tenant's assigned parking. (In 2 years she has been there overnight 3X). The manager explains that it doesn't matter anyway, the apartment RULES state that anyone who parks more that twice a week is not a Guest but is a Tenant & must buy a tenant's spot. (So all the Home Care Aides who come regularly are not allowed to use Guest parking either? Well, they all do)I ask to see these rules, and she tells me they are not written, but I agreed to abide by the RULES when I signed the lease. I did - paragraph 27 says "RULES" and lists about 20 rules - this was not one of them. Nor is it in the Rider. Nor are the rules posted anywhere.
I am then told I have to call someone else at the management Co & rent a parking space for my friend at $100/mo. I didn't want to fight, and I just renewed for anoother year, so I said "what the heck, I'll buy a spot." But that person will not allow me to buy a 2nd spot because my friend is not on the lease. (This feels like something out of Alice In WOnderland) She cannot be on the lease - she lives elsewhere with her children. AND even if I would try to put her on the lease, it has been made clear that she will not be approved since she stole that guest's keys.

So my Guests cannot park here. There is NOTHING in the lease that guarantees Guest parking. I really cannot see anything in the lease that they are breaching - except maybe my "Quiet Enjoyment" that would give me legal rights to do something. Certainly they are treating me differently than every other tenant, but I don't think there is anything illegal about that unless it is done on racial, religious, etc. grounds. I suggested we try to mediate our dispute via a local community mediation group, but they won't do it - just saying "these are our rules." They are not regulated, other than by the laws of NY State (NOT New York CITY, where I would have rights).

So I feel I am stuck here another year, and every time my friend visits she does not know if she'll be able to park, or have to turn around & go home. I jsut want to stay here & have guests visit me like everyone else.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: This seems almost Surreal

That really sucks. There is nothing in the lease about guest parking and they won't communicate with you on the matter, even through a mediation service? It looks like you have exhausted all your options to fight this new "rule". You could continue to fight this and they will see you as a "problem" in their minds, and possibley retailiate with other new "rules" or you could resign yourself to accepting the situation, as unfair as it is to you. It looks like your friend will have to park blocks away, as you say, and if you are a good friend you can give her a ride to her car when she leaves at 1:00AM.


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RE: This seems almost Surreal

here's an idea - do you have any friends in the building? When you friend comes to visit you, she should just say she is visiting someone else in the building (you should clear this with the neighbor first). Line up a few neighbors who are willing. Guess this could be a pain in the ass or won't work but it was my first thought.


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RE: This seems almost Surreal

Unfortunately, I do have to resign myself to accept it as it is. Or move, and then fight when they sue me for a year's rent.

I've tried the "friends" thing - but they all know her too well for that. It doesn't work.

To tell you just how afraid people here are of the Super, one person runs a tutoring service here. My friend's kid goes there. But rather than say anything to the Super to allow my friend to park while her kid is getting tutored, this tenant is going to lose a client.

I just learned tonight that the BEST - the VERY BEST - Doorman we had here is leaving after only a few months. He told people he does not get along with the Super. He is from a family of Doormen at exclusive apartments in NYC - he really was the Ideal Doorman (NOT "Carlton the Doorman" - bring back memories? )

Management backs the Super 10000%.


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RE: This seems almost Surreal

Certainly they are treating me differently than every other tenant, but I don't think there is anything illegal about that unless it is done on racial, religious, etc. grounds.

Actually, this may be illegal. I know in employment, that if a company acts consistently in a certain way, that BECOMES, legally, company policy.

I think you should contact a local tenant-law association, or a state-run one.


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RE: This seems almost Surreal

There is nothing illegal about what the landlord has done. It is not class discrimination. The decision was based on the behavior of this person's guests. The tenant did have access to guest parking services for two years and it was recinded due to an incident. The tenant asserts that they are not guilty of losing the other person's keys but the landlord believes otherwise and has shut off all lines of communication on the matter. Without something written into the lease granting each tenant a guest spot there is not much more to do. Parking in the guest spots is up to the discretion of the landlord and their representatives (doorman) in this case. The situation does sound unfair but getting a lawyer would be a waste of time and money.


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RE: This seems almost Surreal

I disagree. Guest was accused of theft when keys were found behind desk. So there was no theft. Tenant is being told to follow "unwritten" rules. If I had 'unwritten rules' I could twist things pretty much anyway I wanted to. Doesn't work that way.


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RE: This seems almost Surreal

I received a new communication for the LL. it said that not following the rule is a "gross violation" of the lease (What is a GROSS violation?). It then stated the "rule" that visits must be "brief" (How long is "brief?") and may not be more than 2 days a week.

No other tenant is aware of any such rule as it has not ever been posted anywhere nor has it been sent to any tenant. The Lease does have a list of about 54 Rules - I am in compliance with every one of these, but the majority of the tenants are not.

Other odd provisions in the lease. It excludes all local laws from being applicable to the lease (I am SURE that is not enforceable). It also disallows any counterclaim against LL, and disallows a jury trial.

Bottom Line here is that my guest was accused of something that was done by the Super's son, not my guest. It was shown that she did not do it, but I guess the Super needs a scapegoat. Very very unfair. Illegal? Like I said, I'm not so sure.

QUESTION THEN: This letter sounds like they plan to try to evict me. Lease provides 3 days notice. If that notice comes while I am on vacation, can I return to an empty apartment with my belongings in storage somewhere?

Or even if I am home, do they have to go to Court & at least have a hearing before they can evict me? Or is "self help" (i.e. moving me out) allowed (Lease says it is).


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RE: This seems almost Surreal

it's not a matter of discrimination.

It's a matter of CONTRACT LAW.

By acting in a consistent manner, with consistently allowed or enforced rules, with OTHER tenants, the landlord is demonstrating that these are the rules for ALL tenants, and he may not, as a matter of CONTRACT law, modify them for a single tenant.

Especially not AFTER that tenant has signed a lease which did not include those rules, and did not point out the change.

(sometimes a landlord has a clause in the lease that says, "just because I don't enforce one of these rules for someone else, doesn't mean I can't enforce it with you!" but in some municipalities that's illegal. And it doesn't apply the opposite way--the rule would have to be made known to everyone, even if it weren't enforced. And as I said, in many municipalities, they couldn't do that. Also, even if it were legal, the fact that this is enforced against only ONE person, and not against many other violators, would make it unenforceable. And they can't add a rule like this AFTER the contract has been signed. You just can't. Changes to a contract, once signed, require the agreement of BOTH parties.)

I think I would take your lease, and this letter, to a tenants' rights organization.

I think I would also write back, by registered mail, a letter that says you are in compliance with all rules; that adding this rule AFTER you signed your lease is not enforceable because they have modified the terms of your contract without your consent, and this is NOT legal in contract law.

Since they have violated the contract, you would have every right to consider it null and void (are you looking around? I know you like this place, but it sounds like somewhere else would be far preferrable now).

(That good doorman might be able to write down his info about when they were given this rule that applies to you alone, and when you were told about it, as can your guest--this could become evidence that they are in violation of the contract by adding rules they did not inform you of. I think I'd ask him.)

I think I'd also photocopy off that rule and pass it out to all the other tenants, because it should apply to them, too, and they need to know. I'd include a cover letter, warning them that this should apply to their caregivers, relatives, friends, etc. Surely they need to know, right? (why should you be the only one w/ angst on this?)

It excludes all local laws from being applicable to the lease (I am SURE that is not enforceable).

It wouldn't surprise me if this clause then makes the whole lease unenforceable. That's a clause I'd want the tenants' rights people to see.

And I'd want to know, from the tenants' rights people, whether they can truly evict you within 3 days. I've always heard the evicting someone takes a LOT longer. There has to be notice; in most instances, you have to be given an opportunity to cease and desist.

Of course, this is an annoying and disheartening fight, and you probably won't be issued a lease after this one is up.

There is also an issue of LIBEL LAW.

Your guest could write letters documenting the events, and warning the super, the landlord, and the other tenant (whose guest's keys were lost) that should they EVER say the world "stole," etc., they will be vulnerable to a lawsuit for libel. She has effectively suffered direct damage to her reputation, because she is being denied the right to visit a friend in the complex. In fact, she probably has a libel suit right NOW.

The super's comments to you were libel, and she could sue his butt if she wanted to and was willing to put in the effort.

The tenant asserts that they are not guilty of losing the other person's keys

In the laws governing borrowing, storing, etc., there's a clear bias toward the person who initiated the exchange and who benefitted (if someone asks you to keep his mower in his garage, and it gets damaged, THEY bear the greater responsibility; if you ask to borrow it, and it gets damaged, YOU bear the greater responsibility).

The OP's guest didn't even KNOW she had someone else's keys, remember? The super's son *thought* he DROPPED someone ELSE's keys in HER vehicle. How on earth would this guest have even known that someone else's keys were in her vehicle (if they *had* been)?

She's not responsible; she bears no legal responsibility here. There's no theft involved. You cannot be accused of stealing someone else's stuff when a third party left it in your possession without your knowledge.

Even if the woman had seen the keys, heard whose they were, and threw them out rather than be bothered with them, she has not stolen them, and she is not legally required to return them. (true, she'd be a crumb bum, if she tossed them knowing whose they were, but she wouldn't be a thief)

She didn't ask for the responsibility, and she didn't benefit from it. Therefore it is NOT her responsibility. Not legally.


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RE: This seems almost Surreal

Ditto.

Also, unless this is an old folks' home or something, with longstanding restrictions against grandchildren and whatnot, i don't see how they have the right to micromanage your life like this. You can only have a guest 2x/wk, for a total of 3.5 hours per 7 day period [or whatever]? WTF??

It sounds like they're trying to collect 'violations' to allow them to evict you. Why, heaven knows. If I were them I'd be more concerned w/ the fact that their 'doorman' bldg is often wide open for anyone to walk in while the 'doorman' sleeps or canoodles w/ his girlfriend. That;s a lawsuit waiting to happen, as soon as someone gets mugged or burgled.

Whatever, since they've decided that you're Enemy #1, maybe you shd start looking for another place. One where the doorman *never* gets his hands on anyone's car keys.


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RE: This seems almost Surreal

These responses are all well thought out replies with Legal solutions. The theft thing was crazy because the keys were found at the Dooorman's station, and my friend never had them.
That Doorman no longer works here. I am sure the trouble is solely due to the fact that the Doorman is the son of the Super.

BUT - here's my problem. While nowhere in the lease does it have any of these rules about guest parking, likewise nowhere in the lease does it say one single word about providing guest parking. So I don't see what Legal basis I have for claiming my guest can park there - other than perhaps to argue that everyone does it, and I have been living here for 3 years under this circumstance. BUT I think they can just come in & say that this is Not a public lot, nor is it a lot for tenants, and they can allow or disallow anyone from parking here since it is their private property. I am not leasing a parking place in the visitor's lot. They are not saying she cannot visit - just that she can't park here.

Selective Enforcement is what they are doing because one guy is pissed at me (Not even me, I think, as much as my friend). And the management supports him fully.

I don't want to fight. I don't want to sue. I just want to continue to live here peacefully & have my visitors not harassed & subjected to humiliation and embarrassment. Unfortunately, I have looked around, and there really is nothing better in this area (This is not an area known for rentals - they are discouraged in this "toney" NYC suburb).
I plan to move out of the area completely, but cannot do for at least another 3 years due to certain circumstances.

As for Tenant's Rights groups - I've spoken to the one in my county - no interest in this. They do not deal with "luxury" building issues.

I think they got me :-(


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RE: This seems almost Surreal

Maybe, instead of tenant-rights people, you need a flat-out lawyer. A contract lawyer. Maybe a real estate lawyer.

You wrote: "other than perhaps to argue that everyone does it, and I have been living here for 3 years under this circumstance." THAT MAY BE ENOUGH!

Oh, and I just wanted to say, I didn't make it clear, in my comments about responsibility, that I did know your friend never had the keys at all, they were found elsewhere, not in her car; those comments were about her responsibility if she HAD had them (which she didn't).

One thing you could do, perhaps, is to both write down an account of what happened, and when. Before you forget.

And send it to the management--even though it won't help. But you could use it to argue that you are a HELPFUL tenant (helping the doorman search for the keys in the middle of the night), and your guest was so positively disposed toward the complex that she searched her car twice.

And you could send it to the crabby neighbor, w/ an intro that says, "I think you have the wrong impression about what happened, and we wanted to be sure you knew the exact sequence of events."

Oh, and a libel lawyer might be useful, too.

OR...You could also just wait. Maybe in a month, everything will calm down, and life will go back to the way it was.


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RE: This seems almost Surreal

I'd tell anyone who visits me to bring an extra car key to drop off with the "doorman" and keep their "everyday" keys. That way if the doorman does his disappearing act, your guest can drive away without being held hostage by the vanishing doorman. They can always retrive their key at a later date.

I certainly hope that they aren't leaving their entire set of keys with the doorman.


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RE: This seems almost Surreal

All of the reasons behind the landlord's behavior are bogus. But I don't see that it's illegal.

You have already realized that your lease does not guarentee guest parking. The guest parking lot is private property. He can deny your friend access to that lot for any reason, or even for *no* reason.

He's going thru a lot of trouble to justify himself (insistig that your friend stole someone's keys), but he really doesn't have to go to the trouble. However, as one poster pointed out, he may have exposed himself to a lawsuit for libel by accusing your friend of theft. Did his letter to you include this accusation as one of your "rules violations"? If so, you have this baseless accusation in writing as evidence of libel.

As far as the rules he's quoting, go back over your contact one more time. The contract may allow the landlord to amend the Rules at his discretion.

Quote: "It excludes all local laws from being applicable to the lease (I am SURE that is not enforceable)."

Don't be too sure without getting a lawyer's opinion. (I'm *not* a lawyer.) Many states require that contracts contain a disclaimer along the lines of "this contract is subject to the provisions of the laws of the State Of xxxxx". To me, that says that *state* laws trump anything in your contract, but the same may *not* hold true for "local" laws. I'm not sure, so that would have to be answered by a lawyer. You may be able to google it and find actual court cases that have addressed the question in NY.

The reasoning behind this is so that businesses can have one standard contract that works anywhere within a certain state. They don't have to re-write a contract for each local city or county, who's local laws may be vasty different. Again, I could be totally off-base. I'm not a lawyer.

I would not waste money on getting a lawyer over the parking issue, it seems too far weighted in the landlord's favor for you to prevail. It is private property.

Eviction, however, is a different matter. If the landload starts Eviction, then by all means consult a lawyer and make the landlord follow every single letter of the law regardig evictions in your state.


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RE: This seems almost Surreal

Make sure you document EVERYTHING. Keep a copy of anything you send to the landlord for your own records. Try to have a witness for any conversations that are conducted in person.

Since the Super has a key to your apartment, you might also want to make sure that any of your "important papers" are locked up.

Long ago, I lived in apartments where the landlord or custodian didn't feel like they had to give notice before entering. A locking file cabinet is helpful.

It would make me angry that the Doormen are so careless with the keys. What is to stop someone from making an extra copy and letting themselves into your unit later?

A link that might be useful:

www.landorslum.com


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RE: This seems almost Surreal

Dreamgarden, the doorman has car keys NOT apartment keys in this story.

Of course I would worry about someone driving off with a car that did not belong to them. They would be legaly liable but who needs that kind of hassle with a long drawn out court case.


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