HPD Has No Standing Under HMC to Sue Landlord for Harassment
LVT Number: #31990
HPD sued landlord, seeking correction of Housing Maintenance Code (HMC) violations at landlord's building. The claimed violations included harassment of tenants. Landlord asked the court to dismiss the harassment claim by HPD. Landlord argued that HPD didn't have standing to pursue any harassment claim and that any right to sue landlord on that basis was held only by the tenants.
The court agreed and dismissed HPD's harassment claim. The court noted that this was a case of first impression on this issue and provided some lengthy discussion of the law. The law in question is the NYC "Tenant Protection Act," which amended the HMC in 2008 to create a housing violation for harassment. Among other things, the TPA repeatedly uses the words "tenant," "tenant or any group of tenants," "person," and "person or group of persons" to describe those impacted by the law. And in a prior appellate case, Prometheus Realty Corp. v. City of New York, the Appellate Division determined that the aim of the TPA was to "provide legal remedies for tenants experiencing harassment." The court found that this supported landlord's argument that the HMC provisions that HPD relied on were available only to tenants and lawful occupants and not to HPD. And HPD's ability to commence a proceeding seeking to abate or correct any violation of the HMC was problematic here since there was no "violation" for harassment until and unless the court placed one.
HPD v. Rosenfeld: Index No. HP 2806/2019, 2022 NY Slip Op 22087, NYLJ No. 1648538797 (Civ. Ct. Kings; 3/17/22; Poley, J)