Tenant's Niece Gets Rent-Stabilized Apartment
LVT Number: #31613
Landlord sued to evict rent-stabilized tenant for nonprimary residence. Tenant died shortly thereafter, and tenant's niece claimed succession rights to the apartment.
The court ruled for the niece after trial. The niece testified that she grew up in Trinidad, and was close with tenant as a child. As she grew up, she confided in tenant more than she did in her own mother. Eventually, the niece moved to New York in 2010. After initially living in a house with tenant's son, she moved in with tenant to care for her as tenant aged and was less able to live independently. The niece testified that she prepared meals for tenant, monitored her medications, spent holidays with her, took tenant to doctors' appointments, and helped her with personal care. Eventually, tenant went to stay at her son's house when she needed more full-time care, because the niece had to leave the house most days to go to work. Tenant died in 2019 at age 79. She had never removed her belongings from the apartment.
At trial, the niece also submitted a number of documents, including 2016 and 2018 driver's licenses listing the apartment as her address, pay stubs and tax returns dating back to 2015, W-2 forms for 2017 and 2018, bank statements for 2017, and money order receipts for rent payments by the niece to landlord dating back to 2016. The niece said she paid her bills in cash and money orders. She wasn't registered to vote and didn't own a car. Tenant paid for groceries. The niece scheduled any needed apartment repairs and was present when performed. Tenant's son testified that tenant and her niece were like mother and daughter. He and a few other witnesses otherwise corroborated the niece's testimony. He said the niece moved into tenant's apartment in 2013.
The court found that the niece made a sufficient showing that she and tenant shared an emotionally committed relationship within the meaning of succession provisions of Rent Stabilization Code Section 2520.6(o)(2). The court found that tenant and her niece co-resided in the apartment for at least two years before tenant moved in with her son in 2017. The niece proved that her relationship with tenant was characterized by an emotional and financial commitment and interdependence.
Jeremy Props. LC v. Franklin: Index No. L&T 53851/19, 2021 NY Slip Op 50811(U)(Civ. Ct. NY; 8/19/21; Capell, J)