Landlord v. Tenant: October 2017
Landlord Promptly Started Eviction Proceedings Against Squatters
DOB issued six violation notices to landlord, in connection with illegal building alterations contrary to the building’s Certificate of Occupancy. DOB’s inspector found that, among other things, landlord had altered a two-family dwelling to add a Class “A” apartment to the cellar and six SRO units on the first and second floors. Landlord said that he bought the building in 2004, that it was vacant at that time, and that, in November 2016, he discovered squatters had broken in and were living in the building. He hired an attorney and it took about 11 months to get the squatters evicted. Landlord claimed that the squatters did the illegal alterations. The ALJ ruled against landlord, finding that he didn’t start eviction proceedings until months after the violations were issued. The ALJ fined landlord $53,800.
Landlord appealed and won. Landlord made a mistake before the ALJ. He had stated that he discovered the squatters in November 2016, but in fact he discovered them in November 2015 and started eviction proceedings in December 2015. Landlord’s documents from the court case proved this. So landlord started the case to remove the squatters at least six months before the violations were issued. ECB revoked the fine.
- Landsman: ECB App. No. 1700481 (7/6/17)
MAJOR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS
Security Camera System Not Connected to All Building Entrances
The DRA granted landlord’s application for MCI rent hikes based on the installation of a boiler/burner, security camera, and pointing. Tenants appealed and won, in part. Tenants claimed that the security camera didn’t qualify as an MCI because not all entrances were covered. The DHCR ruled for tenants and revoked that portion of the MCI rent increase. Tenants used a front entrance at 22 Pell Street and there was no security camera there. DHCR policy is that, for a television security system to qualify as an MCI, all entrances to the building must be monitored on a 24-hour basis, or there must be visual capacity in each apartment in connection with a functioning intercom. Here, one entrance had no camera and there was no camera connected to a functioning intercom in tenant apartments.
- Various Tenants of 20-22 Pell Street: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. BV410035RT (6/30/17)
DHCR Can’t Inspect IAIs Installed Before Base Rent Date
Rent-stabilized tenant complained of rent overcharge. The DRA ruled for tenant and ordered landlord to refund $1,980, with interest. Tenant appealed and lost. Tenant claimed that there was insufficient evidence of the installation of individual apartment improvements (IAIs) to her apartment, there was a missing registration of a prior 2013 rent, and there was substantial indication of fraud by landlord. The DHCR found no fraud and therefore no reason to review pre-base date rent history. Landlord advised tenant that she was rent stabilized, not unregulated, and gave tenant a rent-stabilization rider. There was consistency between registered rents and rents listed on leases, and all rents were registered. Since the IAIs in question were installed prior to the base rent date, the DHCR couldn’t inspect them.
- Kassow: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. EX410047RT (6/30/17)
Landlord Can’t Add DOB Fine for Short-Term Rentals to Cure Notice Requirement
Landlord sued to evict rent-stabilized tenant for using the apartment for illegal transient use and operating an illegal hotel. Landlord didn’t dispute that tenant had stopped the illegal short-term rentals during the period set forth in landlord’s notice to cure. But landlord had been fined by DOB for the short-term rentals and claimed that tenant must pay the fine in order to cure. The court ruled against landlord and dismissed the case. Landlord didn’t specify how tenant should cure in the notice to cure. And, at the time that landlord issued the cure notice, DOB hadn’t levied the fine against landlord. So landlord couldn’t have expected tenant to pay the fine as part of the cure.
- 884 Riverside LP v. Zelaya: Index No. 59863/2016, NYLJ No. 120279337933 (Civ. Ct. NY; 7/2/17)