Q: I sublet my apartment from someone who, I believe, holds leases on a number of different apartments in and around Harlem, but doesn’t live in any of them. He sublets the units to different people, adding partition walls to bedrooms and living rooms to create additional bedrooms so he can rent more rooms. There are three of us in my apartment. The primary tenant collects our separate rent checks in person at the beginning of every month. The rent goes up at his whim and there is a constant turnover of tenants. Is this legal?
A: You are in a precarious situation with no easy solutions. The arrangement you’ve described is likely illegal, and may endanger your personal safety. Temporary walls can create fire hazards if they impede an escape route in an emergency, and cannot be installed without approval and a permit from the city.
Department for Housing Preservation and Development website. Explain the situation to the owner, as well as your concerns. “You don’t want to be paying rent to somebody who may not have forwarded it to the landlord,” Mr. Goldberg said.
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