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Expert Witnesses / Testimony In Real Estate Cases

Interviewer: Are there any kind of cases that were called for witnesses, experts or other sort of evidence?

Glen Malia: In terms of landlord/tenant particularly for the non-payment proceedings, if the tenant would raise a question of the condition of the property. New York state has what they call a warranty of the habitability and I think every state in Union has a warranty of habitability which basically says the landlord’s got to supply a habitable, livable space for the tenant. So, if the tenant comes in and that raises the warranty of habitability, they can argue for what’s referred to as an abatement of rent, in other words reduction of the rent saying “My lease rent may be it’s $1,000 month but because of the condition of the property, I surely have to be paying $500 a month and therefore, the money I’ve paid, all my rent should be paid up.

Expert Witnesses May be Called upon to Elaborate the Condition of the Building or the Rental Unit

In instances like that, it may be an incident where there might be a need for an expert witness but that’s such a weird situation you know even in abatement of rent and warranty of the habitability issues, the need for an expert witness is not always there and that’s why a tenant having to bring in the expert witness to say “Well, based upon this condition, you know, the value of the rent would be X now” and obviously, you know, the landlord can then bring in their expert saying “No. You know even though, you know, the windows or even though there’s no ventilation, the walls and therefore, the heat runs more, it’s still worth, you know, X dollars a month for rent”. Those are main instances in the residential field where expert witness would be and they’re very, very, very rare. And in 30 years that I’ve been doing, I’ve never had a case in which an expert witness was necessary, or at least on behalf of the landlord.

The Essential Characteristics to be Found in a Bad Tenant

Interviewer: What are some examples of “Bad tenant”?

Glen Malia: Okay. I actually one time, I started writing a blog about bad tenants, let me just pull it up. I’ll give you a wide definition of bad tenants for -- basically, a bad tenant start out with one that doesn’t pay the rent, okay, just simple as that. They don’t pay the rent and that’s obviously a bad tenant. “What’s a bad tenant?” First of all, a bad tenant is not a good tenant, okay, so let’s define what a good tenant does.

The Essential Characteristics to Be Found in a Good Tenant

A good tenant pays the rent on time, takes care the premises and doesn’t complain. A bad tenant is anyone else, okay. But then, now let’s break down the levels of bad tenant, okay. You have a bad tenant, okay, bad tenant is the tenant who either doesn’t pay the rent on time or doesn’t take care of the property or complains. And you have an awful is one that doesn’t pay the rent on time and/or doesn’t take care of the property and/or who complains, choose any of the two. And then, you have the tenant from hell, which is a tenant that doesn’t pay the rent on time, doesn’t take care of the property and compliance, you know, so that’s what a bad tenant is and the thing that landlord have to realize too is that a good tenant can become a bad tenant but a bad tenant will never become a good tenant.


Malia Law, LLC located in Cortlandt Manor, NY represents Landlords/Tenants throughout Westchester County, Putnam County and Southern Dutchess County, NY.



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