Landlord v. Tenant: March 2013
DOS Violations: Landlord’s Incapacity Doesn’t Excuse Violations
DOS issued 24 violations to landlord between August 2007 and May 2010 for failing to separate recyclables from other trash, improper storage of receptacles, failing to keep the sidewalk in front of her building clean, and for leaving snow, loose rubbish, and ice and dirt on the sidewalk. Landlord was fined $2,400 after failing to respond to the violation notices. Her attorney got the proceedings reopened and asked the ALJ to excuse landlord because she was incapacitated.
The ALJ ruled against landlord, who appealed and lost. Landlord’s attorney had argued that, in order to avoid a court finding of incompetency in a court proceeding brought by the city in 2005, landlord had consented to the appointment of a special guardian selected by the court. But there had been problems between landlord and several appointed guardians. There was insufficient proof of mental impairment, and landlords who are physically infirm remain liable for any failure by their hired help to keep the front of the building clean. Before the ALJ, landlord’s attorney admitted that landlord hadn’t been declared mentally incompetent or incapacitated by a court, didn’t submit to the ALJ a copy of the court order appointing the special guardian, stated that landlord had been in a nursing home and not a psychiatric facility during the period in question, stated that landlord had hired a lawyer to secure removal of the first guardian appointed, and stated that landlord now lived at home with the assistance of aides.
- Sandecki: ECB App. No. 1200423 (9/26/12)
Landlord’s Negligence: Landlord Not Responsible for Visitor’s Slip and Fall
Tenant’s visitor sued landlord for negligence after he slipped and fell from the second step from the top of a staircase leading down to a basement apartment. The visitor was holding his 2-year-old son at the time. Landlord asked the court to dismiss the case, claiming that he wasn’t responsible for the visitor’s injuries. The court ruled for landlord.
The visitor appealed and lost. In pretrial questioning, the visitor stated that he fell when his right foot twisted, causing him to fall down two steps. He said there was nothing on the stairs as he began to walk down, that he didn’t see any defects with the stairs before he descended them, and that at the time of the accident he couldn’t tell why he fell. He had visited the apartment three or four times before the date of the accident without incident, and tenant and two other people had walked down the stairs ahead of him that night with no problem. Tenant also stated that two days after the accident, he went back and saw loose cement on the right corner of the fourth step from the top of the stairs. But he didn’t know whether it had come from the second step, where he twisted his foot. Since the visitor couldn’t identify the cause of his fall, the case was properly dismissed.
- Dennis v. Lakhani: 2013 NY Slip Op 00061, 2013 WL 85921 (App. Div. 2 Dept.; 1/9/13)
Rent Reduction Denied: Landlord Maintained Updated Master TV Antenna
Tenants complained of a reduction in building-wide services concerning laundry room washers and dryers, elevator service, elevator doors, garage/drain covers, the intercom/buzzer system, elevator leveling conditions, and the building’s master antenna. The DRA ruled for tenants in part and reduced their rents based on elevator leveling conditions and a defective intercom/buzzer system. Tenants appealed, claiming that the master antenna they complained about also wasn’t being maintained, that landlord ignored tenants’ requests for antenna hook-ups, and that only three out of the seven VHF channels promised in 1967 were working. Landlord also appealed, claiming that the elevator leveling conditions and intercom system were in fact maintained.
The DHCR ruled against both landlord and tenants. DHCR inspection showed that the intercom/buzzer system produced no sound. And the elevator didn’t level properly at the time of DHCR inspection, and created a trip hazard. The DHCR’s inspector also found that there was a master antenna on the building roof. Eleven apartments inspected had cable TV and weren’t connected to the master antenna. One apartment connected to the master antenna had very good reception on 13 channels. In addition, the FCC mandated the switch from analog to digital broadcasting in 2009. It was DHCR policy that landlords could provide an updated master antenna and that tenants would be responsible for purchasing at their own expense analog to digital converter boxes for their televisions.
- 500 Riverdale Avenue LLC/500 Riverdale Avenue Tenants’ Association: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket Nos. ZI930022RO, ZI930026RT (12/5/12)