Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph - Manhattan Tenant Rights and Representation Attorney
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Eviction Prevention Archives

3 tips for NY tenants facing harassment due to immigration status

Harassment from a landlord based on immigration status isn't just frustrating, it's illegal. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has publically come out to criticize this practice, stating that it is "appalling."

Good-faith charity or bad-faith landlord?

The answer to the above-posed headline query in today's blog post rings adamantly clear for a number of New York state and municipal politicians who are joined by various tenants' advocacy groups in opposing the recent actions of a tax-exempt organization that also operates as a city landlord.

Disturbing and egregious: landlord's attempt to oust tenants

On the one hand, he made sure to deposit the rental payments dutifully made by long-time tenants of one of his many residential properties in New York City. In fact, he continued cashing those checks even months after the renters -- a family of seven -- had vacated the premises.

Can I Be Evicted For Accidentally Flooding My Neighbor's Apartment?

Legally speaking, a nuisance is defined as "a course of conduct which has caused substantial harm to other tenants, to the building, to the landlord's employees, or to the landlord," says Himmelstein, and unless the behavior in question is severe, repeated incidents are a key factor. So in this case, the fact that you've flooded your neighbor's place on multiple occasions does not work in your favor.

Owner Use Abuse

Our firm recently won a huge victory in a long, bitter and hard fought case entitled Samra v. Messeca. The case was an example of our work in eviction prevention. This was what is known as an "owner use" proceeding-an eviction case brought against a rent stabilized tenant because the landlord claims that they want to have an immediate family member-in this case one of the landlord's daughters- occupy the unit. In order to prevail in such a case, the landlord only needs to establish that he or she has a good faith, honest intention to have the family member live in the unit. Landlords frequently use owner occupancy as a ruse to evict rent stabilized tenants. This case was a textbook example of bad faith. There had been a long history of animosity between the tenant and the landlords. After recovering another apartment under the guise of owner occupancy, the family member for whom the apartment was sought did not move in; instead the landlord destabilized it and quadrupled the rent. Moreover, there were other apartments available which the landlord could have moved his daughter into, and blatant harassment of the tenant. In order to maintain an owner use case, the building must be owned by individuals; in this case, although the deed was transferred to an individual, the building was still managed and operated through a corporation. Tellingly, the landlord had attempted to coerce the tenant into accepting de facto and illegal deregulation of her apartment years before this case began, by suggesting that if she failed to agree, the landlord would evict her in an owner occupancy case. The court, in a 19 page decision, dismissed the case, citing these many factors and held that the landlord did not have a good faith desire to have his daughter occupy the apartment; in effect the court found that the landlord was lying and that the case was a sham. The tenant in this case was represented by Janet Ray Kalson and Sam Himmelstein.

Court Dismisses Chronic Non-Payment Claim where Non-Payment Proceedings Occurred More than Six Years Ago

Repeated failures to pay rent which result in non-payment proceedings could result in eviction on the basis of "chronic non-payment."  While there is no specific number of non-payments that could result in eviction, Tenants have been evicted where there have been nine non-payments in three years. Not all non-payments count, however.  In a recent Bronx County Housing Court case, Mins Court Housing v. Wright, the landlord alleged that there were 12 prior non-payment proceedings in the last 22-years.  The Court, however, dismissed the case finding that nine of the proceedings occurred more than six years ago and therefore were barred by the six-year statute of limitations for contract claims.  In addition, in two of the more recent proceedings, the tenant had warranty of habitability or overcharge defenses.  Non-payment proceedings where a tenant has valid defenses  such as a bona fide habitability claim or dispute over the amount of rent owed rent do not count in a chronic non-payment case.  A mere inability to pay due to lack of money may excuse an isolated instance of non-payment but is not however a valid defense to chronic non-payment. 

Small Start-Up Obtains "Yellowstone,"Avoids Eviction and is Thriving

A small start-up company had just entered its lease for the office space in the Flatiron District. The Lease, especially the rent, was an essential part of the start-up company's business plan.