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Here Comes da Judge...

Posted by chelsea on February 27, 2002 at 17:42:28:

Excerpts from the decision of Judge Straniere (Staten Island Civil Court) in Fantauzzi v. Tadros, in the Weds., Feb. 27, 2002 New York Law Journal. The judge dismissed the tenant's request for reargument of a small claims court decision awarding $1,875 to his landlord. However, the landlord was barred from collecting rent until a valid certificate of occupancy was obtained, as the premises was an illegal two-family dwelling:

"This Is Another Fine Mess You've Gotten Me Into, Stanley!"

… How did we, the public, end up with a system where houses were constructed so that they could easily be converted to illegal two or three family homes? On Staten Island during 2001, the Building Department blitzkrieged neighborhoods and issued violations to home owners with dwellings containing these illegal conversions. After these inspection revealed so many illegal apartments many municipal officials expressed their dismay at the existence of these conditions. It was a scene reminiscent of the one in the film "Casablanca' when the Prefect of Police, Louie, played by Claude Raines turns to Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and states that he is "shocked that there is gambling taking place. Shocked!'' in Rick's American Café. At which point he is handed his winnings by an employee of Rick's.

The question that faces the Court is "Who is to bear the loss in this regard?" That is which individual or individuals is responsible for the expenses to be incurred in correcting the situation. This should not be confused with the issue facing the Court when the ranger at Jellystone Park misplaced Yogi and Boo-Boo; which was: who is responsible when someone loses the bear? There are severe economic consequences attached to the attempt to end these illegal conditions.

Many of these illegal two-family homes are referred to as "mother-daughter" homes. This name is obviously politically incorrect. No one ever calls them "father-son'' homes. Perhaps this is traceable to the old saying, "A daughter is a daughter all her life. A son is a son until he takes a wife.' Nor does anyone refer to them as "mother-son' or "father-daughter' homes. Query: would an entire development of "mother-son'' homes be an "Oedipal complex' or "father-daughter' homes an "Electra complex''?

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