Landlord v. Tenant: January 2022
Tenant Doesn’t Prove Harassment Based on Alleged Toxic Odor
Tenant brought an HP proceeding against landlord, claiming harassment. She said there was a “toxic odor invading” her apartment in June 2020 and that landlord did nothing about it. Landlord asked the court to dismiss the case after trial, claiming that tenant failed to state a cause of action. The court ruled for landlord. A harassment claim based on physical conditions of a dwelling must be based at least in part on one or more violations issued by HPD by the time the harassment claim is made. Here, there was no HPD violation.
Tenant also tried to prove that the toxic odor condition constituted harassment under the law’s “catch-all” provision under NYC Admin. Code Section 27-2004(a)(48)(g). Tenant testified that she experienced dizzy spells, choking, feeling faint, and lack of sleep because of the claimed toxic odor that she said came from other tenants’ cooking. Tenant called the Fire Dept., but they found nothing wrong at the apartment.
Tenant purchased a Yeezou “combustible gas detector” and showed a video in court of herself using the device, which allegedly detected some form of combustible gas in her apartment. But evidence obtained through use of scientific devices is generally not admissible unless the device has been accepted by courts as reliable. In this case, even if the Yeezou was a scientific device, it wasn’t an item of daily or common use and its reliability wasn’t common knowledge. And tenant offered no proof that the device was operated correctly, was in good working order, or produced scientifically reliable results. So that evidence couldn’t be given any weight.
Tenant also offered no credible testimony that she had been attacked or threatened by landlord. She claimed that attacks and threats came from other building occupants and offered no proof that landlord had anything to do with them. And tenant’s claim that landlord sought to increase her rent didn’t constitute harassment.
- Wilson v. Sterling: Index No. 17593/2020, 2021 NY Slip Op 50990(U)(Civ. Ct. Bronx; 10/22/21)
RENT INCREASE DENIED
IAI Rent Increases Disallowed Without Written Tenant Consent
Landlord asked the DHCR in 2018 for a ruling on an apartment’s rent regulation status and for amendment of the unit’s 2014 and 2015 annual rent registrations based on its claim that the unit became permanently exempt from rent regulation due to substantial rehab in 2013.
The DRA ruled against landlord, who appealed and lost. The DRA had disallowed any rent increase for individual apartment improvements (IAI) and rolled the apartment rent back to the Aug. 1, 2012, rent of $674.45. The DHCR noted that the apartment was occupied by tenant at the time the IAIs were performed and that no written consent to any rent increase had been signed by the tenant. And electrical work done in the apartment in 2009 was repair and maintenance work, not an IAI. Landlord also had failed to submit additional documentation of the claimed IAI costs that the DRA requested. Also, since the question involved here was the apartment’s regulatory status, the four-year lookback period that would have applied at the time to an overcharge claim did not apply.
- Zackmaxie, LLC: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. N210010RO (10/15/21)