Landlord Couldn't Prove Undated Lease Had Expired
LVT Number: #32925
Landlord sued to evict an unregulated tenant in 2019, claiming that tenant's lease had expired. In response, tenant claimed waiver and that her lease was still in effect. After holding a trial, the court ruled against landlord and dismissed the case. To win at trial, landlord needed to prove that tenant's lease expired before January 2019, when landlord started the case. The lease stated that it would expire on Dec. 31, 2018, and that it was for a one-year term. However, the lease was undated and didn't contain a commencement date. Tenant signed the lease on May 31, 2018, and landlord signed it on June 6, 2018. Landlord's omission of a lease commencement date not only put in question the enforceability of the lease but also raised uncertainty about when the lease really commenced. The lease contract, drafted by the landlord, therefore was ambiguous. Since the lease didn't actually start on Jan. 1, 2018, other interpretations come into play. And a lease with as many internal contradictions and omissions as the tenant's lease wasn't an enforceable agreement. In the absence of an enforceable lease agreement, tenant was in fact a month-to-month tenant and termination of her tenancy required service of a 30-day notice of termination. Landlord's petition therefore was defective and the case must be dismissed.
3505 BWAY Owners LLC v. McNeely: Index No. 51387/2019, 2023 NY Slip Op 50955(U)(Civ. Ct. NY; 9/8/23; Stoller, J)