Tenants Claim Breach of Warranty of Habitability and Harassment
LVT Number: #31684
Tenants sued landlord, claiming breach of the warranty of habitability based on rodent and insect infestation, freezing conditions, lack of building security and waste-line failure. The lower court dismissed the case.
Tenants appealed, and the appeals court reversed, vacating the judgment and reinstating the complaint. Landlord claimed that tenants' allegations were insufficient to state a cause of action, but the claims as stated in the complaint gave landlord sufficient notice of what tenants intended to prove at trial and, if proven, could support an award of punitive damages if landlord's acts or inactions were shown to be intentional and malicious.
Tenants' complaint also sufficiently stated a cause of action for private nuisance and for harassment under Admin. Code Section 27-2005(d). The complaint alleged that landlord attempted to physically take the garden area of one tenant's apartment for its own use and that there were repeated interruptions of essential services, including the building's fire safety system, calculated to cause tenants to vacate.
The appeals court also ruled that the lower court had jurisdiction to entertain tenants' claim for permanent injunctive relief preventing landlord from continuing its partial demolition of the tunnel that carried steam heat from the Hotel Chelsea to the building where tenants lived. Tenants claimed that their leases specifically provided for steam heat. If so, there was no need for them to exhaust administrative remedies before suing landlord here. Tenants also stated a cause of action by claiming that the electric heating system that landlord intended to install would be dangerous in a building that lacked adequate sprinklers or fireproof construction, and where the elimination of steam heat in the tunnel would cause waste and water lines in the tunnel to freeze, burst, and create a hazardous condition affecting their apartments.
Jobe v. Chelsea Hotel Owner LLC: App No. 14308-14308A, 2021 NY Slip Op 05397 (App. Div. 1 Dept.; 10/7/21; Manzanet-Daniels, JP, Mazzarelli, Moulton, Gonzalez, Pitt, JJ)