Tenant Can't Make Claim in Chronic Nonpayment Case
LVT Number: 11841
Facts: Landlord NYCHA began at least four nonpayment proceedings against tenant within a period of less than 15 months. Tenant claimed breach of the warranty of habitability in a number of the cases and also commenced HP proceedings. Landlord then held an administrative hearing and made a finding of chronic delinquency of rent against tenant and put tenant on a six-month probation. Tenant had again raised the issue of breach of the warranty of habitability, but NYCHA ruled that tenant didn't show dangerous conditions and that her remedy was to file a grievance with NYCHA or start a court proceeding. Tenant appealed NYCHA's ruling and asked the court to bar what she claimed was NYCHA's policy of sanctioning tenants who withheld rent based on documented violations of the warranty of habitability. Court: Tenant didn't prove any NYCHA policy sanctioning tenants in general. RPL 235-a doesn't create the right to withhold rent when tenant claims breach of the warranty of habitability. Tenant's remedy is to start a grievance proceeding before NYCHA, an HP action in housing court, or a plenary action in civil court. Although tenant may receive a setoff for a defense or counterclaim in a nonpayment proceeding, tenant still must pay the rent.
Richburg v. Franco: NYLJ, p. 26, col. 4 (9/24/97) (Sup. Ct. NY; Cahn, J)