Landlord v. Tenant: June 2016
Discrimination: Court Revokes Damages Awarded to Disabled Tenant
Disabled tenant complained to the New York City Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that landlord failed to provide a reasonable accommodation, in violation of the city’s Human Rights Law. Tenant was permanently wheelchair-bound following a car accident. She lived in a first-floor apartment in Astoria. Her husband or someone else had to carry her up and down the five stairs between the first floor and the building lobby whenever she went in and out. Although, after a hearing, the Commission’s ALJ agreed with landlord that rampway construction options were infeasible, CHR’s commissioner didn’t adopt the ALJ’s findings and ruled for tenant. Landlord was ordered to pay $125,000 in civil penalties and to pay tenant $75,000 for mental anguish. Landlord filed an Article 78 appeal, claiming that HRC’s decision was unreasonable.
The court ruled against landlord, for the most part. The court found that CHR reasonably determined that landlord could accommodate tenant by converting the window to a door even though there was some disagreement on how difficult that would be to accomplish. However, the court reduced the damages for mental anguish from $75,000 to $60,000.
Landlord appealed and won. The appeals court found that there was no substantial evidence to contradict landlord’s claim that installing an accessible entrance was structurally unfeasible.
- Marine Holdings v. NYC Commission on Human Rights: Index No. 10951/12, NYLJ No. 1202753846266 (App. Div. 2 Dept.; 3/30/16)
Landlord’s Negligence: Landlord Not Responsible for Lead Paint Condition
Tenant’s daughter sued landlord, claiming that her infant child was injured by landlord’s failure to remove lead-based paint in tenant’s apartment. Tenant cared for the grandchild in her apartment about 50 hours per week. Landlord claimed that it wasn’t responsible. The court and appeals court ruled for landlord and dismissed the case, but gave tenant’s daughter permission to raise the question before New York’s highest court. The Court of Appeals again ruled against the daughter. Since tenant’s grandchild didn’t “reside” at tenant’s apartment, landlord had no legal obligation to remove lead-based paint from tenant’s apartment.
- Yaniveth v. LTD Realty Co.: 2016 NY Slip Op 02550, 2016 WL 1311544 (Ct. App.; 4/5/16)
Rent Overcharge: Missing Rent Registrations and Lease Rider Insufficient to Justify Fraud Claim
Landlord sued to evict rent-stabilized tenant for nonpayment of rent. Landlord claimed that tenant owed more than $12,000. Tenant claimed rent overcharge, fraud by landlord, and that landlord was responsible for paying tenant’s electric bills.
The court found no rent overcharge and ruled for landlord. Tenant lived in the apartment on the base date four years before she claimed rent overcharge. At that time, her monthly rent was $1,995. Since then, her rent was increased by applicable rent guidelines upon lease renewal. Although there was a sizable rent increase in rent at some point before the base date, that wasn’t enough to establish fraud such that a court could look back more than four years to determine a rent overcharge. The fact that landlord failed to register the apartment with the DHCR from 2003 to 2012 and landlord’s failure to give tenant a rent stabilization rider when she signed her first lease also didn’t establish fraud. While there may be a defect in the apartment’s rent registration, this didn’t result in a rent overcharge.
- 324 W. 84 Realty LLC v. Ventresca: Index No. 64566/15, NYLJ No. 1202755842361 (Civ. Ct. NY; 4/5/16)