Articles Posted in Landlord - Tenant

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The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) terminated the Section 8 benefits of Petitioners. Petitioners commenced separate N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceedings against NYCHA seeking to annul NYCHA’s determinations as arbitrary and capricious and to reinstate their benefits. NYCHA move to dismiss the proceedings as time barred, arguing that Petitioners did not commence these proceedings within four months of their receipt of their respective “T-3 letters.” Supreme Court denied NYCHA’s motions and granted Petitioners’ petitions, concluding that the statute of limitations did not begin to run because NYCHA failed to show that it mailed all three notices - a warning letter, T-1 letter and T-3 letter - required under a federal consent judgment. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) pursuant to the consent judgment, the statute begins to run upon the tenant’s receipt of the T-3 letter, regardless of whether NYCHA has proven that it mailed other notices required by the consent judgment to be sent before the T-3 letter; and (2) the Appellate Division found in each case that NYCHA established proper mailing of the T-3 letters, and Petitioners did not commence these proceedings within four months of their receipt of the T-3 letters. View "Banos v. Rhea" on Justia Law

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Julie Conason and Geoffrey Bryant (together, “Tenants”) were the rent-stabilized tenants of an apartment in a residential building owned by Megan Holding, LLC (“Megan”). Megan was Tenants’ landlord. Almost five and a half years after she occupied the apartment under a vacancy lease, Conason asserted an overcharge claim against Megan. Civil Court dismissed the overcharge claim without prejudice, reasoning that Tenants failed to prove the amount of the overcharge. Tenants subsequently commenced this action against Megan seeking a money judgment for rent overcharge. Supreme Court granted summary judgment for Tenants and directed an assessment of damages. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that the N.Y. C.P.L.R. 213-a’s four-year statute of limitations did not bar the claim because there was significant evidence of fraud on the record. The Court of Appeals affirmed as modified, holding that, because of the unrefuted proof of fraud in the record, section 213-a merely limited Tenants’ recovery to those overcharges occurring during the four-year period immediately preceding Conason’s rent challenge. View "Conason v. Megan Holding, LLC" on Justia Law

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Following Tenant filed a successful rent overcharge complaint, Landlord commenced a holdover proceeding against Respondent seeking to evict Tenant and regain possession of the premises. In support of its claims, Landlord alleged that Tenant breached the lease. Tenant asserted a defense of retaliatory eviction and counterclaimed for attorneys’ fees and damages under N.Y. Real Prop. Law 234, which imposes a covenant in favor of a tenant’s right to attorneys’ fees. Civil Court dismissed the proceeding, finding that Tenant had not breached the lease and that the proceeding was commenced in retaliation for Tenant’s successful rent overcharge claim. The court denied fees under section 234. The Appellate Division modified on the law by granting Tenant’s claim for attorneys’ fees pursuant to section 234 and otherwise affirmed. The Appellate Division subsequently granted Landlord’s leave to appeal, certifying the question of whether section 234 applies to a lease that authorizes the landlord to cancel the lease upon a tenant’s default, repossess the premises and then collect attorneys’ fees incurred in retaking possession. The Court of Appeals answered that section 234 applied to the lease in this case and that Tenant was entitled to attorneys’ fees as the prevailing party in this summary holdover proceeding. View "Graham Court Owner's Corp. v. Taylor" on Justia Law

Posted in: Landlord - Tenant

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Plaintiff, a property owner, and Defendant, a tenant, entered into a one-year commercial rental lease agreement. Prior to the end of the one-year term, the parties extended the lease for a nine-year term. Several months after executing the lease extestion, Defendant vacated the premises and ceased paying rent. Plaintiff commenced this action for rent arrears and an amount equal to the future remaining rent owed on the lease. Supreme Court entered judgment for Plaintiff in the amount of $1,488,604, consisting of the rent remaining due under the lease, reduced by the amount of rent Plaintiff was able to collect by reletting the premises. Defendants appealed, arguing that Plaintiff was barred from collecting unpaid future rents pursuant to an acceleration clause in the leasehold agreement. The Court of Appeals affirmed as modified, holding that the court below erred by limiting the damages hearing to whether Plaintiff relet the premises without allowing Defendants the opportunity to present evidence that the undiscounted accelerated rent amount was disproportionate to Plaintiff’s actual losses, notwithstanding that Plaintiff had possession and no obligation to mitigate. View "172 Van Duzer Realty Corp. v Globe Alumni Student Assistance Ass’n, Inc." on Justia Law

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In these three putative class actions, Plaintiffs, current or former tenants of separate apartment buildings, sought damages for rent overcharges. All plaintiffs initially sought treble damages but then waived that demand. At issue was whether Plaintiffs’ claims could properly be brought as class actions. Defendants argued, among other things, that these actions were to “recover a penalty” because, even without trebling, the remedy provided by the Rent Stabilization Law (RSL) 26-516 is a penalty. In each case, the Appellate Division certified a question to the Court of Appeals. The Court answered (1) N.Y. C.P.L.R. 901(b), which prohibits any claim for penalties to be brought as a class action, permits otherwise qualified plaintiffs to utilize the class action mechanism to recover compensatory overcharges even though the RSL 26-516 does not specifically authorize class action recovery and imposes treble damages upon a finding of willful violation; and (2) maintaining these actions as class actions does not contravene the letter or the spirit of the C.P.L.R. or the RSL. View "Borden v. 400 E. 55th St. Assoc., L.P." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff resided in an apartment from approximately 1997 until 2003. A corporation owned the building during Plaintiff’s occupancy until shortly before Plaintiff vacated the premises. In 2004, Plaintiff sued the corporation, the building’s current landlord, and other parties, alleging that she developed health problems due to mold and other harmful substances in the apartment. The corporation and landlord sought to dismiss the complaint to the extent that Plaintiff alleged mold-induced personal injuries, arguing that Plaintiff was unable to prove either general or specific causation. Supreme Court dismissed all of Plaintiff’s causes of action except those for property damage and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. The Appellate Division reversed and reinstated the complaint, concluding that the standard of scientific reliability set forth in Frye v. United States was satisfied in this case. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Plaintiff did not demonstrate on the record a cause-and-effect relationship between exposure to indoor mold and the kinds of injuries she alleged.View "Cornell v. 360 W. 51st St. Realty, LLC" on Justia Law

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On October 18, 2000, Tenant leased Landlord's billboard for fifteen years, commencing on December 1, 2000 and ending September 30, 2015. The lease obligated Tenant to pay the full annual basic rent for 2007 to Landlord on January 1, 2007. Tenant later terminated the lease, effective January 8, 2007, and gave Landlord a check representing rent for the period of January 1, 2007 through January 8, 2007. Landlord filed suit against Tenant seeking the balance of the basic rent for 2007. Tenant moved for summary judgment, suggesting that Landlord agreed to pro-rate rent for 2007 during an oral communication. Supreme Court granted summary judgment for Tenant. The Appellate Division reversed and granted summary judgment for Landlord. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Tenant was obligated to pay the full annual basic rent for the calendar year 2007, the parties did not agree in the lease to apportion rent post-termination except in specified circumstances not relevant here, and Tenant's claim that the parties orally agreed to such apportionment was barred by the lease's "no oral modification" clause. View "Eujoy Realty Corp. v. Van Wagner Commc'ns, LLC" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was a tenant in a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) public housing apartment. After Petitioner became employed, she failed to disclose her new earnings to her landlord, an omission that allowed her to pay a substantially lower rent than she would have had she revealed the income. After NYCHA discovered the misrepresentation, Petitioner was criminally charged for failing to report her income. Petitioner pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of petit larceny and received a conditional discharge upon her agreement to pay restitution to NYCHA. Thereafter, NYCHA ordered that Petitioner's tenancy be terminated. Petitioner subsequently challenged that determination, claiming that eviction might leave her and her children homeless. Supreme Court affirmed NYCHA's determination. The Appellate Division reversed and vacated the penalty of termination, concluding that the termination of tenancy was so disproportionate to the offense, in light of the circumstances, as to shock the judicial conscience. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the NYCHA's decision to terminate Petitioner's tenancy was not so disproportionate to her misconduct as to shock the judicial conscience. View "Perez v. Rhea" on Justia Law

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The primary question in this commercial dispute involving, among other things, the right to a leasehold to certain commercial property, was whether, pursuant to the "necessary affects" requirement under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 5501(a)(1), Defendants' appeal to the appellate division from a judgment declaring Plaintiff the lawful tenant of the subject property brought up for review two non-final supreme court orders: one dismissing Defendants' counterclaims and third-party complaint and the other denying Defendants' motion for leave to amend their answer. The Court of Appeals modified the order of the appellate division, concluding that the appellate division improperly held that Defendants' appeal from the judgment did not bring up for review the order dismissing Defendants' counterclaims and third-party complaint. In other words, the appellate division erred in ruling that this order did not necessarily affect the final judgment. View "Siegmund Strauss, Inc. v. E. 149th Realty Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs claimed that the City of New York was contractually obligated to pay rent subsidies to their landlords under the Advantage New York program until expiration of their leases. State and Federal reimbursement for two-thirds of the Advantage program's costs ended on April 1, 2011, causing the City to discontinue it as of that date. Both lower courts found that the City did not intend to enter into enforceable contracts with Plaintiffs or their landlords under the Advantage program. The Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of the lawsuit, holding that the courts below did not err in finding that the City made no contractual commitment to continue the Advantage program through expiration of Plaintiffs' leases. View "Zheng v. City of New York" on Justia Law