Landlord Can't Evict Successor Tenant for Not Paying Prior Tenant's Unpaid Rent
LVT Number: #31717
Landlord sued to evict Mitchell-Lama tenant in April 2019, claiming that she owed $17,897 in back rent from November 2017 through March 2019 under an occupancy agreement. Tenant previously had lived in the apartment as prior tenant's family member, had applied for succession rights in September 2018 after tenant died, and had been approved as a successor tenant in October 2018. But tenant asked the court to dismiss the case because at least 63 percent of the claimed rent arrears had accrued between November 2017 and October 2018, when tenant was granted succession rights. Tenant argued that landlord therefore improperly sought rent arrears from her that had accrued to the prior tenant. The court ruled for tenant and dismissed the case.
Landlord appealed and lost. It is well settled that a nonpayment proceeding lies only where there is a landlord-tenant relationship between the parties and there has been a default "in the payment of rent, pursuant to the agreement under which the premises are held." Neither Mitchell-Lama regulations nor DHCR Memorandum #2019-B-02 (4/15/19) permitted landlord to obtain a possessory judgment for the failure to pay use and occupancy.
Rochdale Village, Inc. v. Chadwick: Index No. 2019-1785 QC, 2021 NY Slip Op 50958(U)(App. T. 2 Dept.; 10/8/21; Weston, JP, Toussaint, Golia, JJ)