Landlord v. Tenant
Discrimination: Landlord Needn't Make Premises Handicapped Accessible
Tenant, a disabled veteran, sued landlord in federal court, claiming that areas of his apartment and the apartment complex were inaccessible to him due to his disability. He also claimed discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Landlord asked the court to dismiss the case, claiming that it was in compliance with any applicable laws.
The court ruled for landlord and dismissed the case. The Fair Housing Act mandates that public areas of buildings must be accessible to all tenants, but applies only to buildings first occupied after March 31, 1991. Because the building complex opened in 1983, the law didn't apply to landlord. While the law also bars landlord from refusing permission for tenant to make reasonable modifications to the apartment at tenant's expense, tenant didn't claim that he made any changes or that landlord refused any request by tenant to modify the apartment. And since landlord was a private entity that didn't receive federal assistance, tenant couldn't claim discrimination under the ADA.
- Ernst v. Gateway Plaza Management Corp.: Docket No. 11 Civ. 1169, 2012 WL 1438263 (SDNY; 4/25/12)
Major Capital Improvements: MCI Increase Revoked
The DHCR granted landlord's application for MCI rent hikes based on the installation of a new roof, front doors, and an intercom system. Tenants filed an Article 78 court petition, claiming fraud. They said that landlord's application was premature and incomplete, and that landlord misrepresented the installation dates and failed to prove its claimed costs. The court sent the case back to the DHCR for reconsideration.
The DHCR then asked landlord to explain its relationship with the building's contractor and to submit all documents relating to the claimed cost for the improvements performed. In its original application, landlord had stated that there was no relationship between landlord and its contractors, but tenants showed that landlord and its roof contractor shared the same principal and address for service.
Landlord didn't respond to the DHCR's request for additional information. Under DHCR Policy Statement 90-10, where a landlord doesn't disclose a relationship between the building owner and a contractor, landlord may be required to submit additional information. Since landlord failed to do so, the portion of the MCI granted for the roof work was revoked.
- Alyssa Gray Realty, Inc./Various Tenants: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. YF110004RP (3/16/12)
Pets: Landlord May Be Responsible for Attack by Tenant's Pit Bull
A child's parents sued tenant, the child's aunt, as well as landlord after tenant's pit bull terrier attacked the child in tenant's apartment. Landlord claimed that it wasn't responsible and asked the court to dismiss the case without a trial. The court ruled against landlord, who appealed and lost. To prove landlord was responsible, the parents had to prove that landlord had notice that tenant kept the dog in the apartment, that landlord knew or should have known that the dog had vicious tendencies, and that landlord had sufficient control of the premises to allow landlord to remove or confine the dog. A trial was needed because statements made by neighbors and the building super in pretrial questioning raised questions as to whether landlord knew about the dog and the possibility that it was vicious.
- McKnight v. ATA Housing Corp.: NYLJ, 4/20/12, p. 30, col. 2 (App. Div. 2 Dept.)
Rent Restored: Landlord Restored Community Room to Tenants
Tenants complained of a reduction in building-wide services, claiming that landlord had changed the locks and denied access to a community room previously provided for tenant use. The DRA ruled for tenants and reduced their rents. Landlord later sought rent restoration based on the restoration of services. The DRA ruled for landlord. Tenants appealed and lost. Tenants claimed that landlord engaged in deceptive tactics to avoid providing the community room to tenants. They claimed that landlord charged a $250 rental fee for the use of the community room. Plus, landlord didn't consult the Tenants Association to establish priority for use of the space. And landlord didn't give tenants keys to the community room.
The DRA's order found that landlord had denied tenants access to the community room by changing the locks to the room entrance door. But landlord attempted to provide a key to the Tenants Association representative, and a sign in the room stated that it was available for tenant use without cost. The sign also advised tenants to contact the building super to arrange any meeting or event time. Prior Mitchell-Lama regulations applicable to the building before it became subject to rent stabilization stated that landlord couldn't unreasonably withhold consent to use the community room and a reasonable charge, including a refundable deposit, may be collected for janitorial or related services. These regulations also gave the Tenants Association first, but not exclusive, priority for use of the room. These regulations became part of the required service, and landlord should give tenants copies in writing to clarify what constituted proper community room service.
- Ayala: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. ZA630036RT (3/9/12)