Was Tenant's Roommate a Family Member?
LVT Number: #21208
Landlord asked the DHCR to increase rent-controlled tenant's maximum collectible rent (MCR) because tenant had a roommate who wasn't an immediate family member. Tenant claimed that her roommate was her domestic partner. She and her roommate had lived in the apartment with landlord's knowledge since 1993, and they registered as domestic partners that year. The DRA ruled against landlord in 2004. Landlord appealed, claiming that the DRA hadn't sufficiently investigated tenant's claim. The DHCR then sent the case back to the DRA in 2005 for further fact finding. The DRA then ruled for landlord in 2008 and increased tenant's rent by 10 percent. Tenant appealed.
The DHCR ruled for tenant, finding that tenant proved she had an emotional and economic commitment with her roommate. They had a joint banking account, joint renter's insurance policy, and she made tenant her beneficiary on an employer's benefits statement. Landlord then filed an Article 78 appeal in court, claiming that the DHCR's decision was arbitrary and unreasonable. Landlord pointed out that there was no sworn statement from the roommate supporting tenant's claim.
The court sent the case back to the DHCR. The DHCR then ruled that the DRA should hold a hearing to determine the facts.
189 Eighth Avenue: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. XB220010RP (3/20/09) [3-pg. doc.]