Landlord v. Tenant: August 2021
Landlord Didn’t Have Control Over Resident Who Allegedly Harassed Tenant
Tenants sued landlord, claiming breach of warranty of habitability and violations of federal and state housing discrimination laws. The court granted landlord’s request to dismiss the case without trial.
Tenants appealed and won, in part. Tenants had routinely complained about a rodent infestation in the apartment. The condition was observed by witnesses and eventually resulted in intervention by the NYC Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). The case was sent back for further proceedings to determine the duration of the uninhabitable conditions and appropriate rent abatement.
Otherwise, the appeals court affirmed the ruling that there was no discrimination. Tenant complained about harassment from another tenant based on sexual orientation and race. But tenant showed no substantial control by landlord over the other tenant who allegedly harassed the complaining tenant. So tenant had no claim under the Fair Housing Act or state Human Rights Law.
- Edstrom v. St. Nicks Alliance Corp.: Index No. 159450/14, App. No. 13830, Case No. 2021-00439, 2021 NY Slip Op 03112 (App. Div. 1 Dept.; 5/13/21)
RENT STABILIZATION COVERAGE
Rent History Records Must Be Kept to Prove How Apartment Was Deregulated
Tenant complained of rent overcharge and improper deregulation of his apartment. The DRA ruled for tenant and ruled that the apartment wasn’t deregulated, the four-year base rent date was March 4, 2013, the base date rent of $1,600 was the rent charged and paid on the base date, and that after March 4, 2013, a rent overcharge occurred totaling over $21,000 with triple damages. Landlord appealed and contested the triple damages. It claimed that it was improper to impose an obligation on landlord to retain records of the 2006 deregulation, which predated the four-year base date.
The DHCR ruled against landlord. Even prior to 2014 amendments to the Rent Stabilization Code, and as pointed out in a number of court decisions, the DHCR was obligated to look beyond the four-year review period in cases of deregulation to determine an apartment’s rent-regulated status. The DHCR even cited the May 2021 appellate case of AEJ 534 E. 88th v. DHCR (LVT #31435) where the court said that, “regardless of its age, an apartment’s rent history is always subject to review to determine whether the apartment is rent-regulated” and that the 2020 Regina v. DHCR Court of Appeals decision didn’t restrict that.
- Fengji Enterprise Inc.: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. IV210018RO (5/17/21)
Court Will Hold Virtual Trial to Accommodate Tenant in Nuisance Case
Landlord sued to evict tenant for creating a nuisance. Landlord claimed that tenant loitered around the building day and night, at all hours, yelling, banging, and pounding on walls, made inappropriate comments to other tenants, and removed door handles from emergency exits. Landlord had videotape of tenant attempting to break into another apartment and removing the doorknob. Tenant also had been arrested and charged with various crimes. As trial was coming up, tenant asked the court to delay the trial and/or give him a reasonable accommodation since he had medical conditions that made him vulnerable to COVID-19.
The court ruled for tenant, only to the extent of ruling that the trial would be held virtually instead of in person, as a reasonable accommodation to tenant. The court found that CEEFPA did not provide grounds for delay of this proceeding.
- Bronx Park Phase II Preserv. LLC v. V.C.: Index No. 60327/16, NYLJ No. 1621867600 (Civ. Ct. Bronx; 5/10/21)