Tenants' Harassment and Assault Claims Against Landlord Dismissed
LVT Number: #31340
Two rent-stabilized tenants of one apartment sued landlord for harassment, assault, nuisance, breach of the warranty of habitability, and breach of their lease. They claimed that landlord engaged in "an escalating campaign of deliberate, systematic, and malicious harassment" with express or implied threats that force would be used against them. Among other things, tenants claimed that there were repeated interruptions of building services, including phone service. Landlord asked the court to dismiss the case.
The court ruled for landlord in part, dismissing most of the claims. State Supreme Court "is not the proper forum for tenant harassment claims" and Housing Maintenance Code (HMC) Section 27-2115(h)(1) called for tenants claiming harassment under HMC Section 27-2005(d) to bring the case in housing court. HMC 27-2215(h) also required that there be HPD violations on record. In addition, while tenants claimed three specific instances of harassment, only one fell within the one-year statute of limitations. Tenants' claim of harassment by repeated deprivation of basic services also failed because it was vague and conclusory.
As to tenants' claim of assault, even if landlord yelled, "Fuck you" to tenant and "spewed spittle into her face," that didn't amount to assault as a matter of law since it wasn't physical conduct that gave rise to an apprehension of imminent harmful conduct. Tenants' claims also didn't amount to nuisance, but presented only a laundry list of supposed defects without explaining how they impacted tenants' use and enjoyment of the building. Tenants also failed to identify any conditions that amounted to breach of the warranty of habitability or the lease. But the court gave them permission to replead these two claims if they weren't specifically settled in a prior court case.
Berg v. Chelsea Hotel Owner, LLC: Index No. 654748/2020, 2021 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 1498 (Sup. Ct. NY; 3/17/21; Kotler, J)