Landlord v. Tenant: April 2021
Court Must Delay Eviction Under COVID Emergency Law
Landlord sued to evict tenant for nonpayment of rent. The trial court ruled for landlord, issued an eviction warrant, but delayed execution on the warrant until Jan. 1, 2021, based on the 2020 Tenant Safe Harbor Act. Tenant later sought further delay based on the Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020, enacted on Dec. 28. The new law required delay of already issued eviction warrants until the court held a status conference. Tenant filed a hardship declaration, and the court held a conference. Landlord rebutted tenant’s financial hardship claim, showing that tenant owned a house in a neighboring city where they could relocate. But the new law didn’t allow landlord a chance to rebut tenant’s additional claim based on a significant health risk. So the court was required to further stay the eviction until May 1, 2021.
- Piscionere v. Gori: 2021 NY Slip Op 30096(U), NYLJ No. 1611701256 (Rye City Ct.; 1/14/21)
PASSING ON APARTMENTS
Occupant Didn’t Prove Financial Interdependence with Tenant
Apartment occupant claimed succession rights and complained to the DHCR in 2017 that landlord failed to offer him a renewal lease after rent-stabilized tenant died. Occupant said that he had a nontraditional family relationship with tenant for many years and lived in the apartment with him for years.
Landlord advised the DRA that it had already commenced an eviction proceeding against occupant and that the DHCR proceeding should either be dismissed or held in abeyance until the court case resolved the same issue raised in occupant’s complaint. Landlord also pointed out that the NYC DOF had granted DRIE benefits to tenant in 2015 based on tenant’s statement that he was the sole person occupying the apartment.
In reply, tenant submitted an interim decision by the housing court to hold that case in abeyance until the DHCR issued a final determination of occupant’s lease violation complaint.
But landlord pointed out that after tenant died, other occupants moved into the apartment with the complaining occupant. And, in 2003, in response to landlord’s offering plan to convert the building into a condominium, tenant decided to remain as a non-purchasing tenant, and occupant, represented by counsel, agreed that he wouldn’t be a rent-stabilized successor to the apartment. He stated he had no financial and emotional interdependence with tenant.
The DRA ruled for occupant and granted him succession rights.
Landlord appealed and won. RSC Section 2520.6(o) and DHCR Fact Sheet #30 provide that an occupant will have succession rights if he resides with a tenant for the requisite period and can prove emotional and financial commitment and interdependence with the tenant. A number of factors may be considered, and tenant’s DRIE application statement didn’t bar occupant’s succession claim, especially since the power of attorney granted to occupant by tenant wasn’t in effect at the time of tenant’s DRIE application.
But while occupant showed that he shared an emotional relationship with tenant, there was no proof of a financial interdependence between the two. The parties had no joint bank accounts, credit card accounts, or joint ownership of anything. And while occupant supposedly lived in the apartment for 30 years, his name didn’t appear on any utility bills or documentation related to the apartment and unit expenses. The fact that occupant paid tenant’s bills through a power of attorney late in tenant’s life was insufficient to show the kind of intermingling of finances required by the RSC. Being the sole beneficiary in tenant’s will also didn’t prove financial interdependence for succession purposes.
- Trump Park Avenue, LLC: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. IQ410004RO (11/2/20)