Tenant Wins Six-Year Eviction Battle with “Sushi Defense”

A 32-year tenant of a rent-stabilized apartment in the East Village recently won the right to stay in her $992-a-month apartment using what the Daily News dubbed a "sushi defense." The owner had been trying to evict her for six years based on nonprimary residence. If a rent-stabilized tenant spends more than half her time at another residence, she can be legally evicted.

The owner's main proof was the fact that her electric bills are so low. Her average electric usage was 55 to 133 kilowatt hours a month compared with 200 to 250 kilowatts for studios of that size. According to the owner, this was clear evidence that she spends most of her time at a second home in Westminster, Vt. However, the tenant testified that she often eats out and makes a lot of sushi, which doesn't require much power. Her neighbors also testified that they saw her in the building "constantly." The appellate court accepted the defense in a 3-to-2 vote.