Tenant Claims She Reasonably Denied Access for Repairs During Pandemic
LVT Number: #32293
Landlord sued to evict rent-stabilized tenant in 2021 for violating a substantial obligation of her tenancy and unreasonably refusing to provide access for inspection, repairs, and correction of violations placed by HPD. Landlord's Notice to Cure dated Aug. 12, 2020, listed 21 HPD "B" and "C" violations placed earlier that year. The case was stayed for some time due to tenant's ERAP application. Later, after tenant's ERAP application was denied and tenant still had failed to give landlord access to correct 54 open Housing Maintenance Code (HMC) violations, landlord asked the court to put the case back on the court's calendar. Tenant objected to landlord's request, claiming that it wasn't unreasonable for her to refuse to provide access during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenant also claimed that she had provided access on various occasions. Tenant also asked permission to file a late answer to landlord's petition if the court didn't dismiss the case outright.
The court denied tenant's request to dismiss the case. The court rejected tenant's claim that the case should be dismissed because it was reasonable for her to refuse access between March 7, 2020, and June 24, 2021, the period covered by the governor's Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency due to COVID-19. Whether tenant reasonably denied access during the same period that she was calling in complaints to HPD that called for inspection and resulted in placement of hazardous or immediately hazardous violations was a question of fact. The fact that tenant may have provided access on one occasion to have circuit breakers turned back on wasn't proof that tenant generally had provided access to landlord for repairs.
The court granted landlord's request to put the case on the court calendar for a pre-trial settlement conference, and granted tenant's request to file a late answer. Under RPAPL Section 743, the answer in a holdover proceeding is to be filed at the time when the petition is to be heard. The petition was only now being calendared for a court date for the first time, since it previously had been stayed.
689 E. 187th St. LLC v. Mathu: Index No. 302284/21, 2022 NY Slip Op 50885(U)(Civ. Ct. Bronx; 9/20/22; Lutwak, J)