Court Can't Apply HSTPA's "Immediate and Compelling Necessity Standard" Retroactively to Pending Owner Use Case
LVT Number: #31543
(Decision submitted by Noah Levenson of the Manhattan law firm of Butnick & Levenson LLP, attorneys for the landlord.)
Landlord sued to evict rent-stabilized tenant in early 2019, claiming that she required tenant's apartment for her own use. The court denied tenant's request to dismiss the case in November 2019. However, in its decision, the court stated that landlord must prove at trial that she had an "immediate and compelling necessity" to recover tenant's apartment, because the HSTPA had added this requirement to the Rent Stabilization Law effective June 14, 2019.
Landlord later made a motion to renew and asked the court to reconsider its decision. Landlord pointed out that when she commenced the eviction proceeding, before HSTPA was enacted, the law required only that she show a "good faith" intent to occupy tenant's apartment. And in April 2020, New York's highest court had ruled in Regina Metro. Co. LLC v. DHCR that certain rent overcharge provisions of the HSTPA that were made retroactive by that law did not "comport with our retroactivity jurisprudence or the requirements of due process." In another case, Harris v. Israel, the App. Div. First Dept. also had raised a question in 2021 as to the constitutionality of the retroactive application of the "immediate and compelling necessity" standard to owner's use cases that were commenced prior to enactment of HSTPA.
In light of the Harris decision, the court ruled for landlord and held that the court must apply the "good faith" standard to landlord's owner use case since that rule applied at the time landlord commenced her eviction proceeding, before the HSTPA changed the law.
Zabala v. Mealie: Index No. 52310/2019 (Civ. Ct. Kings; 5/6/21; Scheckowitz, J) [4-pg. doc.]
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