Can a landlord only now just charge a tenant for rent allegedly due almost 3 years ago?

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Can a landlord only now just charge a tenant for rent allegedly due almost 3 years ago?

My mom moved into the apartment in 05/08; she signed her lease in 07/08. Repairs were done in the apartment in 09-10/08, since it was not repaired before she moved in. The landlord, now in 01/11 charging her for 05-0 7/08 rent. The landlord now has taken her to court for those months rent of that year. Is this valid? She was also improperly served.

Asked on January 12, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The time that someone has to sue is called the "statute of limitations." The statute of limitations in New York for contracts--and that's what a lease is; a contract--is 6 years; that means that a landlord could sue for rent up to 6 years after it was due.

If the service was improper, you may be able to get the case dismissed on that grounds. However, the dismissal will be "without prejudice," which means that the landlord could re-file the case and reserve (the court may also allow him to "cure," or fix the service without refiling first). This means that winning on account of bad service is usually just a temporary win. Your mother may wish to consider settling this case for something less than the full amount, if possible.


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