Wife of Former Mitchell-Lama Tenant Retained Succession Rights
LVT Number: #33055
Landlord sued to evict tenant's wife after a tenant of a former DHCR Mitchell-Lama Program building passed away. Landlord claimed that the wife was a licensee who no longer had a right to remain. The wife claimed that she had succession rights. She moved into the apartment in 2015. Although tenant's last lease for the unit expired on Nov. 30, 2016, tenant lived there until he died in April 2020. The building was no longer subject to Mitchell-Lama but, since July 31, 2018, was subject to a regulatory agreement called the Affordability Plan. The Affordability Plan provided that immediate family members who lived in a unit as their primary residence would qualify for succession as of July 31, 2018, under regulations as if the property hadn't been withdrawn from Mitchell-Lama. Although the wife had applied to the DHCR for a finding of succession rights, the DHCR hadn't responded to the application. The wife therefore accepted the jurisdiction of housing court to determine her succession cause of action, as provided for in the Affordability Plan.
The court ruled for the wife and dismissed the case. Landlord misinterpreted the Succession Provision of the Affordability Plan, claiming that it applied only to immediate family members of the original named tenant who "would qualify for succession" as of July 31, 2018. Since tenant was still in occupancy on July 31, 2018, landlord argued that the wife wouldn't qualify for succession as of July 31, 2018. But the court noted that the cited provision didn't end there but further stated that family members who would qualify for succession as of July 31, 2018, "will continue to be subject to and benefit from the Affordable Rent Restrictions as would the original named nonpurchasing tenant."
WV Pres. Partners LLC v. Stanton: Index No. 301410/2022, 2023 NY Slip Op 23385 (Civ. Ct. NY; 12/11/23; Stoller, J)