Landlord v. Tenant: March 2022
Unemployed Tenant Who Got Large Settlement Couldn’t Rely on Hardship Declaration
Landlord sued to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent. Landlord questioned the validity of a Hardship Declaration filed by tenants.
The court ruled for landlord after holding a hearing. One tenant had applied for SSDI caused by non-COVID-related illness and her lack of income, after her business terminated. Her situation was exacerbated by providing care to her elderly parents. A co-tenant was employed full time and earned $800 a week. Another co-tenant had no work since 2020 due to COVID shutdowns.
But one of the tenants had received $389,000 in settlement of a prior lawsuit. So she had the financial ability to pay rent due, or to pay the cost of moving. And since that tenant’s responsibility for rent payment was joint-and-several, no financial hardship could be found for any of the three tenants.
The court found the Hardship Declaration invalid and ruled that the eviction proceeding could go forward.
- Russo v. Kiefer: Index No. 21050217, 2021 NY Slip Op 21285, NYLJ No. 1638302742 (Town Ct. Newburgh; 10/25/21)
Tenant Primarily Resided in Washington, D.C.
Landlord sued to evict rent-regulated tenant for nonprimary residence. The trial court ruled for landlord.
Tenant appealed and lost. Building employees credibly testified that tenant didn’t use his apartment as his primary residence during the period in question. Tenant’s bank statements showed “consistent activity” in Washington, D.C., for most of the Golub period. Tenant also had a D.C. driver’s license, and kept his pet cat at the D.C. residence. Tenant’s attempts to show that his absence from the NYC apartment was excusable only raised credibility and fact questions for the court.
Since the trial court was in the best position to assess the evidence and witness credibility, the appeals court found no reason that the lower court’s decision couldn’t be reached under fair interpretation of the evidence.
- Hous. Dev. Assocs. LLC v. Fitzgerald: Index No. 570144/21, 2021 NY Slip Op 51081(U), NYLJ No. 1638284590 (App. T. 1 Dept.; 11/16/21)