Landlord v. Tenant: March 2014
Pets: Tenant Must Walk Dog Outside with Leash and Muzzle
Landlord sued to evict tenant for keeping a dog and cat in his apartment in violation of his lease. Landlord and tenant signed a settlement agreement in court. Landlord agreed that tenant could keep his pets if tenant walked the dog off-premises with a leash and muzzle and cleaned up after the dog. A few months later, tenant asked the court to vacate the agreement. The court ruled for tenant.
Landlord appealed and won. Tenant didn't prove that there was any fraud, mutual mistake, or other reason for voiding the settlement agreement. The agreement wasn't one-sided. Landlord gave up the right to pursue its claim that tenant violated the clear no-pets provision in his lease. It also didn't matter that the agreement contained no time limit. The agreement reflected the parties' clear intent that it would continue as long as tenant had the pets identified in the agreement. The case was sent back to the trial court to determine whether tenant had complied with the agreement.
- 615 Pelham Realty, Inc. v. Herring: 42 Misc.3d 135(A), 2014 NY Slip Op 50073(U) (App. T. 1 Dept.; 1/28/14)
Rent Increase Ordered: DHCR Limits 1/40th Rent Increase for Painting
Landlord asked the DHCR to approve a rent increase after he painted rent-controlled tenant's apartment. The DRA ruled for landlord in part but limited the amount of the rent increase.
Landlord appealed and lost. Landlord had submitted to the DRA a statement signed by tenant acknowledging that painting had never been provided as a service previously and was now being done to comply with the Housing Maintenance Code. Landlord also submitted a contract for the work with a provision for landlord to pay the contractor $13,750 in cash. Landlord asked the DRA for a 1/40th rent increase of $343.75 over tenant's current rent of $255.91.
In response, tenant claimed that landlord didn't do the scraping, priming, and second coat, furniture moving, refinishing, and cleaning listed in the contract. Tenant provided other estimates from contractors showing that the job should have cost between $2,700 and $2,940.
The DHCR noted that except for the contract stating that the work was done for all cash, there was no other proof such as invoices, receipts, or a breakdown of labor, materials, or other costs. Landlord and tenant also didn't originally discuss the total cost of painting and how that would affect tenant's rent. Given the unique facts and equities of this case, the DRA properly based the 1/40th rent increase on the cost of the painting work stated in tenant's highest estimate of $2,490. The total rent increase was $73.50 per month.
- Proto: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. BV420015RO (12/18/13)
Rent Overcharge: Tenant's Fraud Claim Dismissed
Rent-stabilized tenant complained of rent overcharge. The DRA ruled against tenant, finding no overcharge. Tenant appealed and lost. Tenant claimed that landlord committed fraud by illegally deregulating the apartment, that the DRA should have looked back more than four years because landlord willfully failed to register the apartment for many years prior to the base rent date, and that the DRA incorrectly granted a rent increase for unsubstantiated individual apartment improvements. But tenant's vacancy lease was rent stabilized and included a Rent Stabilization Rider. So landlord didn't deregulate tenant's apartment. And there was no combination of circumstances, fraudulent deregulation scheme, or variance between the registration history and lease history that indicated fraud or warranted piercing the four-year rule. Finally, landlord proved the "1/40th" cost of apartment improvements.
- Mellas: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. BT210011RT (12/11/13)