Tenant and Civil Rights

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Tenant and Civil Rights

I am renting an apartment from a man who posed to be the landlord. I paid him like an idiot, 6 months rent upfront as well as paying thousands of dollars in repairs. I have a signed lease and receipts and texts and pictures as evidence. The way I found out he wasn’t the real landlord was a knock on the door from the real owner. I checked town records and he is the owner. Where and what can I do first to protect myself from being evicted and bringing criminal charges to the man who wasn’t the landlord.

Asked on September 29, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

1) Bringing criminal charges is straightforward: bring all your information to county police.
2) As for protecting yourself from being evicted: you probably cannot. Believing you had the right to rent there gives you no rights to stay there when the owner never gave you permission--the fraud perpetrated against you have no bearing on the real owner or *his* rights, and that includes his right to remove anyone from the home who he has not authorized to live there. The true owner has the right to remove you, since you have no legal rights to possession. You can, of course, ask him to rent to you, but that's up to him--and even if he is willing, you may be unwilling or unable to pay what he wants for the rental.

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