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Ruling Re: Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974

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Ruling Re: Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974

Postby Lilly » Wed Mar 27, 2002 12:59 am

From the Rent Stabilization Association:
"Big Victory For Small Property Owners"
March 22, 2002

"The Appellate Term, First Department, has issued an extremely important decision favorable to rent stabilized small property owners in the case of Brusco v. Armstrong. The specific issue involved in this case was whether a tenant who began his or her tenancy between 1971 and 1974 is protected from eviction based on owner occupancy. There have been a series of Housing Court decisions that ruled against owners and held that tenants in these situations are protected from eviction based upon their occupancy of their apartment for more than twenty years. In order to better understand the importance of the case, here is the background.
The City’s rent stabilization law was enacted in 1969. As the result of State legislation passed in 1971, vacancy decontrol applied in New York City until the adoption by the State Legislature of the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974. The question that has arisen pertains to the rights of the tenants who moved into their apartments during that window period. There has been no dispute that rent controlled tenants inside and outside the City have a twenty-year defense. There has also been no dispute that rent stabilized tenants outside the City can assert the twenty-year defense. There is also no dispute that the twenty-year defense does not apply to post-1974 tenancies. However, even though there is no law or regulation that states that the twenty-year defense applies within the City between 1971-1974, with one exception the judges of the Housing Court have agreed with the arguments by tenants that the regulations that apply outside the City protect tenants within the City.

Except for a decision by Housing Judge Howard Malatzky, the judges of the Housing Court have consistently ruled that the twenty-year defense does apply to tenancies commenced between 1971-1974. Most recently, in the case of small property owner Marie Maris, where she was attempting to recover one of two non-contiguous units rented by the tenant, Housing Judge Jean Schneider ruled that the twenty-year defense applied and denied the owner’s attempt to use one of the units for a member of her immediate family. Ms. Maris is represented by Belkin, Burden, Wenig & Goldman. In Brusco v. Armstrong, the owner attempted to recover one of two contiguous apartments rented by the tenant. Housing Judge Laurie Lau ruled that the regulations that apply outside the City with regard to the twenty-year defense protected these tenants and denied the owner’s attempt to evict the tenant based upon owner occupancy.

The Appellate Term reversed Judge Lau and ruled in favor of the owner. The Court agreed that the stabilization laws and regulations contain “no provision limiting the owner use remedy where the tenant has been in occupancy for 20 years or more [and] no regulation implementing the 20-year rule has, in fact, been adopted under New York City rent stabilization. (emphasis in original)” The regulations cited by the tenants did not apply in the City but, instead, “apply to housing accommodations located in the counties of Nassau, Rockland and Westchester...”"

"This decision is important to small property owners because it demonstrates the lengths that Housing Court judges will go to find almost any reason proposed by tenants to defeat an owner’s attempt to occupy his or her own property. Once one housing judge had ruled that the twenty-year defense applied to stabilized tenants inside the City, it became relatively easy for the other judges to follow. The Appellate Term’s decision provides some basis for optimism that the courts will look fairly and objectively at some of the claims made by property owners."

<small>[ March 27, 2002, 12:10 PM: Message edited by: Lilly ]</small>
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Re: Ruling Re: Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974

Postby consigliere » Wed Mar 27, 2002 8:10 am

Both of these cases were reported in TenantNet's Housing Court Decisions - February 2002, for the week of February 4 - 8.

In fact, Brusco v. Armstrong was one of the Significant Cases for February 2002.
 
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