Landlord v. Tenant: March 2021
Court Conducts Virtual Inspection of Tenant’s Apartment
Tenant sued landlord in housing court, claiming various apartment conditions required repair. HPD inspected the unit and issued violations. Landlord agreed to abate the violations and agreed upon access dates. Tenant later claimed that conditions originally alleged persisted, while landlord claimed that they were repaired. Reinspection by HPD left questions unresolved.
At a virtual hearing with tenant testifying from the apartment, the court suggested it do a virtual inspection of complained-of conditions as tenant testified. The court then was able to observe a hole in the bathroom ceiling that resulted from a rooftop water leak. Landlord provided no proof this was ever fixed. A crack at the back of a bathroom sink basin showed the sink leaked when in use. Landlord presented no proof that it had sought to fix that either.
The court ruled for tenant, issued violations, and ordered landlord to correct the violations.
- Martinez v. M Nadlan LLC: Index No. 41219/2019, NYLJ No. 1608069649, 2020 NY Slip Op 51232(U)(Civ. Ct. Bronx; 10/21/21)
Tenant’s Roommate Ordered to Wear Mask in Building
Landlord sued tenant Tobi and his roommate Lilley in State Supreme Court, claiming nuisance and refusal to grant access for repairs. Landlord sought a preliminary order: (a) directing tenant Tobi to grant access to his apartment so landlord could inspect and repair a water leak; (b) preventing Lilley from entering the building; (c) enjoining and restraining Lilley from assaulting, harassing, menacing, recklessly endangering, intimidating, or threatening other building residents; and (d) stopping Lilley from creating unreasonable health or safety risks to building residents.
The court ruled for landlord in part. A preliminary injunction will be issued only if a plaintiff shows, with convincing proof, a likelihood of success on the merits, irreparable injury absent granting of a preliminary injunction, and that a balancing of the equities favors its position.
The court ordered tenant to permit apartment access to landlord. Landlord demonstrated that it had a right under law and tenant’s lease to access the apartment to inspect and repair the water leak. Tenant’s claim that he stopped using an air conditioner that may have caused the leak didn’t resolve the problem, and landlord had a right to enter and make sure the leak didn’t recur.
As to Lilley, while noting that landlord may ultimately prove its nuisance claim, there was insufficient proof at this point since landlord relied on hearsay from tenants who complained that Lilley threatened and/or verbally abused building staff on many occasions during April, May, and June 2020. However, the court granted an order that Lilley wear a mask in the building to provide some security to building personnel and others while restraining Lilley from continuing any unlawful or wrongful activities.
- 400 W. 59th St. Partners LLC v. Oyolesi: Index No. 157420/2020, 2020 NY Slip Op 34334(U)(Sup. Ct. NY; 12/31/20)
Smoking by Rent-Stabilized Tenants Didn’t Create a Nuisance
Landlord sued to evict rent-stabilized tenants for creating a nuisance by smoking cigarettes inside their apartment. Tenants asked the court to dismiss the case without a trial. The court ruled for tenants.
Landlord appealed and lost. The court record showed that, as a matter of law, the tenants’ “conduct in smoking in the privacy of their own apartment was not so unreasonable in the circumstances presented” as to constitute a nuisance. While acknowledging that Rent Stabilization Code Section 2524.3(b) permitted eviction of tenants for creating or permitting a nuisance and that a nuisance was “a condition that threatens the comfort and safety of others in the building,” the court pointed to other case law stating that “persons living in organized communities must suffer some damage, annoyance and inconvenience from each other. If one lives in the city he must expect to suffer the dirt, smoke, noisome odors and confusion incident to city life.”
- Priceman Family, LLC v. Kerrigan: Case No. 2018-1350 KC, 2020 NY Slip Op 51546(U)(App. T. 2 Dept.; 12/23/20)