Landlord v. Tenant: December 2019
MAJOR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS
MCI Increase Granted for New Garage Roof that Doubled as Courtyard
Landlord applied for MCI rent hikes based on the installation of a new garage roof that functioned as a courtyard. The DRA ruled for landlord but disallowed the costs of the garage walls and interior, foundation walls, slabs, beams, columns, permits, engineering, and miscellaneous costs. Landlord and tenant both appealed and lost. Tenants objected to an MCI increase for the garage roof. But the garage was attached to, and formed an extension of, the building. Therefore, garage roof replacement qualified for an MCI rent increase. Costs allowed here for the new garage roof included those for waterproofing, parapet walls, railings, and pavers. It didn’t matter if prior neglect required the installation. Landlord appealed the disallowance of engineer fees. But they were properly disallowed since they related to the garage interior. Landlord also sought an MCI increase for demolition costs but didn’t break down the costs or describe the demo work in sufficient detail to qualify for an MCI increase.
- Mazurek/Klein: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket Nos. CO130040RO, CO130037RT (7/30/19)
Landlord Waited Too Long to Object to Tenant’s Pitbull
Landlord sued to evict tenant for keeping a pitbull dog in his apartment in violation of her lease. Tenant claimed that she had kept the dog since she moved into the apartment in 2014, and that landlord’s staff saw her walking the dog regularly. The court ruled for tenant and dismissed the case. Landlord’s claim that it notified tenant of the illegality of maintaining the dog in a prior court proceeding was nothing more than a “backdoor attempt to revive the three-month window period already waived for years.” In that case, tenant signed a settlement agreement that included a provision that, “Resp understands and agrees that she cannot have a dog in the apartment[.]” And while landlord alleged that other tenants feared the dog, there was no claim that the dog had vicious tendencies.
- Garvey v. Rodriguez: Index No. 55359/19, NYLJ No. 1570221630 (Civ. Ct. Kings; 9/9/19)
Tenants Can Reopen Overcharge Claim Based on HSTPA Choice of Forum Provision
Tenants sued landlord for rent overcharge. In September 2018, the court granted landlord’s request to dismiss the complaint because the DHCR had concurrent jurisdiction and the court found that “the issues raised in this proceeding are particularly suited to resolution by DHCR, which has expertise in these matters.” Tenants filed a notice of appeal but didn’t file claims with the DHCR.
Tenants later filed a motion to renew their claim that the court should examine their rent overcharge claims, based on Part F, Section 1 of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA), which grants tenants the choice of forum for commencing a rent overcharge claim. Landlord argued in response that the court case was closed pending the outcome of tenants’ appeal and that it was too late to file their motion to renew.
The court ruled for tenants. HSTPA not only overruled any case law finding that the DHCR had primary jurisdiction over rent overcharge claims, but also granted tenants their choice of forum. And, since tenants’ claims remain unresolved until their appeal of the court’s September 2018 order is decided, they are pending claims subject to a motion to renew.
- 560-568 Audubon Tenants Assn v. 560-568 Audubon Realty, LLC: 2019 NY Slip Op 29285 (Sup. Ct. NY; 9/12/19)