Apartment Rented on Condition that Tenant Not Be Primary Resident
LVT Number: 11602
Facts: Tenant sued landlord, claiming a rent overcharge. Tenant claimed landlord forced her to sign an initial lease as a nonprimary resident to justify collecting an unlawful rent increase. Tenant claimed the apartment was her primary residence. Landlord rented the apartment to tenant for $2,700 per month, a 226 percent increase over the monthly stabilized rent. Tenant's lease was later renewed for $2,835. Landlord claimed it rented the apartment to tenant because she said she didn't intend to use it as her primary residence. The court ruled for tenant without a trial, and landlord appealed. Court: Landlord loses. The Rent Stabilization Code bars any agreement by tenant to give up rights under rent stabilization. The code also specifically states that no landlord shall require tenant or prospective tenant to rent an apartment on the condition that the unit won't be used as tenant's primary residence. So it didn't matter that landlord claimed that it had a mutual voluntary agreement with tenant. There was also proof in the form of the rental agent's letter that landlord made it a condition of renting that tenant use the apartment as a nonprimary residence. The court found that the overcharge was willful. With triple damages, the total overcharge was over $200,000. The court also awarded tenant attorney's fees.
Draper v. Georgia Properties, Inc.: NYLJ, p. 25, col. 3 (6/23/97) (App. Div. 1 Dept.; Milonas, JP, Wallach, Williams, Tom, Andrias, JJ)