Landlord Should Have Sought Back Rent Due in Prior Case
LVT Number: 16401
Facts: In July 2002, landlord sued to evict tenant for nonpayment of rent. Landlord claimed that rent was owed for the one-year period between May 2001 and May 2002. Total back rent owed was $6,500. Tenant claimed that landlord waited too long to sue and put him in a position of not being able to pay. Tenant had started an HP proceeding in May 2001. In August 2001, landlord brought a prior nonpayment case. Landlord didn't appear in court, and the prior nonpayment case was dismissed. Landlord didn't appeal or start a new case right away. Tenant also claimed that he had spent money on repairs and didn't have all the back rent. Court: Tenant wins. Landlord delayed in bringing the second nonpayment case. Given landlord's default in the prior nonpayment case and failure to restart the new case immediately after that, tenant couldn't have known that landlord would sue for the same rent a year later. Tenant's ability to pay back rent was affected by landlord's delay. And landlord's reason for delay---to wait and see how the HP action turned out---wasn't a valid excuse. The HP action didn't bar landlord from restarting the nonpayment case.
Rodriguez v. Torres: NYLJ, 1/22/03, p. 22, col. 1 (Civ. Ct. Kings; Pinsky, J)