Legally Married Lesbian Sues Landlord to Add Wife to Lease

Lambda Legal recently filed a complaint against a New York City landlord for refusing to add a lesbian tenant's legally married wife to her rent-stabilized lease as is required by state and city law. After marrying her partner of 37 years in Iowa in 2011, the tenant provided a copy of her marriage certificate to the management company requesting to have her spouse added to the lease. In response to her request, the management company incorrectly told the couple that New York State does not recognize their marriage. Even after they sent their landlord proof of their rights, the management company still refused to add the spouse as a co-tenant in the lease of the Upper West Side apartment they have shared since 1977.

The couple has been "each other’s family for nearly four decades and are legally married. The New York rent-stabilization laws clearly guarantee their right to ensure housing security by having a spouse’s name added to a rent-stabilized or rent-controlled lease. The landlord’s outright refusal to recognize Dava’s marriage to Dorothy is outrageous and violates New York State and City laws.” said Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal.

For further guidance on this topic, see “How to Answer Tenant Requests to Add Spouse to Rent-Stabilized Lease,” available here.