Landlord v. Tenant: June 2014
Demolition: Building Code Changes Required Changes to Demolition Plan
Landlord asked the DHCR for permission to refuse renewal of rent-stabilized tenants’ leases based on its intent to demolish the building. The DRA ruled against landlord, finding that it didn’t have the required architectural plans or proof of financial ability to complete the project, and that landlord didn’t proceed in a timely manner.
Landlord appealed and lost. The DHCR’s Operational Bulletin 2009-1 states that, on 30 days’ written notice, the DRA can dismiss a demolition application based on landlord’s failure to proceed in a timely fashion. During the DHCR hearing process, landlord’s architect died. Landlord’s new architect then refused to adopt the prior architect’s plans. Landlord claimed that it was unfair to find that landlord wasn’t proceeding in a timely fashion on that basis.
But landlord’s plans would have required revision in any event. The new architect stated that 2008 Building Code changes now required the inclusion of ductwork in the plans. Also, exit stair width requirements had been increased. This required a redesign of exit stairs and a revision to the plans. ADA requirements, mandated by the federal Fair Housing Act, also had replaced the requirements of Local Law 58, now requiring that various areas of the apartments be larger than previously provided for. The DRA’s hearing officer was therefore correct to dismiss the application for failure to prosecute. Landlord could refile a new application based on current conditions.
- 1205-1215 First Avenue Associates, LLC: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket Nos. YI4100086RO et al. (1/27/14)
DOS Violations: Juice Cartons Not Considered Paper Recyclables
DOS issued a violation notice to landlord for improperly mixing recyclables, after its inspector found juice cartons in a plastic bag along with soiled paper and cardboard. Landlord admitted that the building staff mixed juice cartons with newspapers and cardboard boxes. The ALJ fined landlord $100. Landlord appealed and lost. Landlord claimed for the first time that DOS hadn’t picked up the recyclables left out on recycling day and that passersby placed the juice cartons in the bag. ECB wouldn’t consider this claim made for the first time on appeal. Beverage cartons must be placed with metal, plastic, and glass recyclables and are not considered paper.
- Marcellino: ECB App. No. 1400133 (4/24/14)
Passing on Apartments: Previously Incarcerated Son Claims Pass-On Rights
Landlord sued to evict apartment occupants after rent-stabilized tenant died. Landlord and the occupants, including tenant’s daughter, signed a settlement agreement in court in February 2013. They agreed to move out by Feb. 28, 2014, and to pay monthly use and occupancy in the meantime. In March 2014, tenant’s son, who hadn’t previously appeared in court, asked the court to delay eviction because he claimed succession. The son had been in prison between October 2006 and May 2013, and claimed that he had then moved back into the apartment. The son asked the court for permission to submit an answer in opposition to the eviction petition. Landlord claimed that the son waited too long to claim any rights and that none of the other occupants had mentioned the son at any time.
The court ruled for the son. He claimed that he had lived in the apartment with tenant before he went to prison and returned there when released. His six-year absence based on incarceration didn’t count against him for purposes of claiming that he had primarily resided in the apartment with tenant before she died. The other occupants didn’t represent the son and so weren’t obliged to represent his interests in court. And while tenant didn’t name the son as an apartment occupant in Section 8 records, the son was entitled to due process and to raise his claim at this time. Since the eviction warrant didn’t name the son, it could be enforced only against the other occupants but not the son. Landlord could start a new licensee holdover against the son, who could raise his succession claim in that proceeding.
- G&L Holding Corp. v. Gonzalez: 43 Misc.3d 1206(A), 2014 NY Slip Op 50506(U) (Civ. Ct. NY; 4/1/14)
Rent Restored: DHCR Properly Granted Landlord’s Rent Restoration Application
The DRA reduced rent-stabilized tenant’s rent based on a reduction in services. The DRA found that tenant’s refrigerator and kitchen cabinets weren’t properly maintained by landlord. The DRA later granted landlord’s application to restore rent based on the restoration of services. Tenant appealed, but the DHCR denied her PAR. Tenant then filed an Article 78 court appeal, claiming that the DHCR’s decision was arbitrary and unreasonable. Tenant pointed out that the DRA had denied two prior applications by landlord for rent restoration in this case and that, since landlord didn’t appeal those decisions, the DHCR was incorrect to later grant a third application by landlord seeking restoration.
The court ruled against tenant. Tenant misunderstood the law. Rent Stabilization Code Section 2523.3 called for rent restoration where landlord demonstrated restoration of services. It didn’t matter whether landlord’s prior applications had been denied because at an early point it hadn’t made sufficient repairs to warrant rent restoration. Tenant hadn’t responded to the DRA’s notice of landlord’s third rent restoration application, so there was no proof that landlord hadn’t restored services.
- Levenkova v. DHCR: Index No. 5341/2013, NYLJ No. 1202651138154 (Sup. Ct. Kings; 4/3/14; Lewis, J)