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December 2011 Archives

Succession Rights: A Harsh New Landscape For Tenants And Their Families-Part I

Over the years, I have successfully represented many clients in succession cases. In the past, succession rights cases were straightforward and simple. Generally, a practitioner would look at three (3) factors: (a) first, the date the tenant of record left or vacated the premises; (b) second, whether the person asserting succession rights and the tenant of record had a close traditional or "Braschi1" family relationship; and (c) third, whether the putative successor resided with the tenant of record for at least two years prior to the date the latter left or vacated. Succession was almost guaranteed to a remainder family member who could prove these three factors.

Welcome to our New York City landlord-tenant law blog

We established this blog to share stories and information about topics relevant to our practice. Our intent is to highlight local stories, as well as national subject matter, that we think you will find interesting. We will regularly update this blog and encourage you to share your thoughts on these posts.

COLLYERS SYNDROME (EXTREME HOARDING)

Cluttering, hoarding, accumulated "stuff" piled high and wide, a condition referred to as a Collyers syndrome (see E.L. Doctorow, Homer and Langley and reality show Hoarders), is the basis for a nuisance eviction case brought routinely by landlords.

Payment of Attorneys' Fees by the Losing Party in a Landlord-Tenant Case

The general rule in American courts (the so-called "American rule") is that each party to a lawsuit bears his/her own legal expenses. Landlord-tenant litigation is sometimes an exception to that rule. Tenants who would like to know whether they may have to pay the landlord's legal fees, or if the landlord may have to pay the tenant's legal fees, will need to review the lease. In the case of a rent stabilized tenant, the lease the tenant must examine will be the original lease; this is because under rent stabilization, a lease is renewed on the same terms and conditions as the original lease. In the case of a market tenant, the tenant must examine the current lease, or if there is no current lease, the most recent lease. If there has never been any lease, then there is no right to attorneys' fees for either the landlord or the tenant (but see the exceptions discussed below).

Don't Rent Out Your Rent-Stabilized Apartment

Tenants suffering hard economic times have taken to renting their apartments for short term overnight or weekend stays, only to discover-often when it's too late-that renting out some or all of a rent regulated apartment is not permitted under the Rent Stabilization Code. In fact, tenants can face eviction for commercializing and converting their apartments into profit-making hotel enterprises.

Court of Appeals to Hear MCI Case

On January 3, 2012, the New York State Court of Appeals will hear argument in the Terrace Court LLC v. DHCR v. Katel, et. al. case. In that case the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal ("DHCR") ruled that, after a facade MCI, apartments still experiencing leaks were permanently exempt from the MCI rent increase. The Supreme Court and the Appellate Division affirmed, agreeing with the DHCR and the tenants. The landlord is arguing that such exemptions can never be permanent but that landlords should always be given another chance to complete the work long after the MCI application has been filed. I drafted an amicus brief in the case on behalf of the New York State Tenants & Neighbors Coalition and Metropolitan Council on Housing. I argued that if a facade MCI is not completed when the application is filed that not only should tenants whose apartments still experience leaks be permanently exempt but that no tenant should have to pay the MCI rent increase.

Major Capital Improvements - #1

Tenants in rent stabilized and rent controlled apartments are subject to "Major Capital Improvement" ("MCI") rent increases when an owner undertakes certain building-wide improvements such as replacing a roof, a boiler, installing new windows. I've worked with thousands of tenants over the years to successfully fight these rent increases. In challenging an MCI rent increase it helps to have a strong Tenants Association. In most cases the Tenants Association will want to retain both an attorney and an engineer. The primary grounds of defeating or reducing an MCI increase are: the work was not completed or was "unworkmanlike" (substandard), the MCI application was not filed within 2-years of the completion of the work, the item replaced had not exceeded its "useful life," the item was not a "building-wide" improvement.