Landlord v. Tenant: October 2012
Discrimination: Landlord Discriminated Based on Sexual Orientation
Tenant complained to the state Division of Human Rights (DHR) of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. The DHR ruled for tenant, awarded damages and fines, and then sued landlord to enforce its judgment. The court ruled for the DHR. State law prohibits landlords from refusing to rent an apartment or otherwise withhold services from a tenant based on sexual orientation. The court upheld the DHR's award of damages in the amount of $100,000 in compensatory damages, $10,000 in punitive damages, and civil fines and penalties of $25,000.
- New York State Division of Human Rights v. Stennett: NYLJ, 8/3/12, p. 26, col. 1 (App. Div. 2 Dept.)
Eviction:Tenant Substantially Complied with Order to Pay Back Rent
Landlord sued to evict tenant for nonpayment of rent. The court ruled for landlord but delayed execution of the eviction warrant until June 30, 2011, for tenant to pay $986 without further extensions. Tenant later asked for a further stay until July 8, 2011, showing the court money orders for the full $986, but said she didn't give the money to landlord until he came to collect on July 7. She claimed that she had no way to contact landlord unless he came to the apartment and that he refused to accept payment on that date because it didn't include July rent of $493.
The court ruled against tenant, noting that one of her money orders was for $493 and dated July 16, 2011. The other was for $493 dated July 6, 2011. Landlord didn't oppose tenant's motion.
Tenant appealed and won. The lower court should have held a hearing on questions of fact raised by tenant's claims and the money orders. And tenant produced a money order dated July 8, 2011, for the entire amount due under the court's order. So tenant was in substantial compliance with the court's order, and the case was dismissed.
- First MWH&G Incorporation v. Gilbert: NYLJ, 8/23/12, p. 26, col. 2 (App. T. 2 Dept.)
Landlord's Negligence: Child Scalded by Excessively Hot Bathtub Water
Tenant sued landlord after her child was burned by excessively hot water in her apartment bathtub. Landlord asked the court to dismiss the case without a trial. The court ruled against landlord, who appealed and lost. Tenant claimed that the child was in the bathtub for about five minutes without incident, with the water running at all times, and then suddenly began to cry and scream. The bathtub's drain hadn't been closed off and there was only about an inch of water in the tub where he was sitting at all times. A trial was needed to determine the facts. No proof was submitted regarding the temperature at which the water heater was set at the time of the accident or what landlord did in response to tenant's prior complaints about hot water surges in other outlets. Landlord has the burden of showing that it maintained its water heater system in a reasonably safe manner and that it didn't create or have actual or constructive knowledge of the claimed hazardous condition.
- Moshe K. v. Nu Kol Tuv, Inc.: 98 A.D.3d 652, 2012 NY Slip Op 06014 (App. Div. 2 Dept.; 8/22/12)
Rent: Landlord Can't Sue Tenant Who Abandoned Apartment
Landlord sued rent-stabilized tenant and tenant's sister in State Supreme Court, claiming that they owed over $78,000 in back rent or use and occupancy. Tenant moved into the apartment in 1989. Tenant's sister lived with her in the apartment. Tenant moved out of the apartment at some point, while her sister remained in occupancy. Landlord sued to evict tenant in 1997 for nonprimary residence and claimed that the sister was an illegal subtenant. Landlord abandoned that proceeding in 1998, and no further action was taken against tenant until 2007, when landlord sued to evict her for nonpayment of rent. That case was dismissed by the housing court in 2011 without prejudice because landlord failed to prove a landlord-tenant relationship.
The court ruled for tenant and dismissed the Supreme Court action. It was undisputed that tenant had abandoned the apartment, and her lease wasn't renewed in 1997. Since the apartment had been surrendered by operation of law, landlord had no claim for rent against tenant. The case remained open against tenant's sister.
- Cenpark Realty LLC v. Gurin: 36 Misc.3d 1235(A), 2012 NY Slip Op 51615(U) (Sup. Ct. NY; 8/17/12)
Tenant Nuisances: Landlord Claims Birds in Apartment Caused Foul Odor
Landlord sued to evict elderly rent-stabilized tenant for nuisance and violating his lease by harboring birds in his apartment. Landlord claimed that foul odors came from the apartment, disturbing other tenants. Tenant asked the court to dismiss the case, claiming that landlord's notice to cure and termination notice weren't specific enough. The court agreed and dismissed the case. Landlord's notices didn't give tenant enough information to prepare a proper defense and therefore were defective.
- WRG Acquisition XIII v. Dalton: Index No. LT-006992-11, NYLJ No. 1202567269869 (Dist. Ct. Nassau; 8/1/12)