The Real Deal New York

Landlords claim New York appeals court favors tenants

Property owners say jurists are addressing policy issues rather than following existing law
December 30, 2014 02:23PM

Landlords are crying foul after a string of decisions by the New York Court of Appeals under Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman that they say have reinterpreted state law in favor of tenants.

Since Lippman took his post in 2009, the landlords contend, the state’s Highest Court has moved from closely interpreting written landlord-tenant law to examining policy broadly and aiming to protect vulnerable tenants, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“You have a Court of Appeals very fond of taking landlord-tenant cases and ruling in favor of tenants even if that means overturning past precedents and logical thinking,” Adam Leitman Bailey, a lawyer who represents both landlords and tenants, told the newspaper.

Appeals court decisions that property owners point to include a 4-2 decision last month in Which The Court ruled that the word “penalty” in rent-stabilization law didn’t mean penalty in reference to repayment of rent overcharges. The decision allowed tenant lawyers to file class-action lawsuits to recover back rents.

In another controversial case last month involving 80-year-old widow Mary Santiago, the court ruled that the term “local public assistance benefit” covered a tenant’s right to below-market rents from a private landlord. The decision exempted rent-stabilized leases from bankruptcy-court proceedings.

“I can say quite strongly for myself and other members of the court that we don’t look at anything other than each case, one at a time,” Lippman told the newspaper. [WSJ] — Tess Hofmann


  • ““I can say quite strongly for myself and other members of the court that we don’t look at anything other than each case, one at a time,” Lippman told the newspaper.”

    And there you have it, the legal principle of precedent, the very bedrock and raison d’etre of legal systems creating a stable framework knowable ahead of time to all parties, becomes mere lip-service and jettisoned by activists judges when convenient and suitable for their overturning of common-law.

    • JEng

      it’s bias now brazenly self-described as righteous but i bet it is out of self interest because pro-tenant is power in NYC – it gets all the funding and rent regulated owners get all the penalites so what judge wouldn’t want to solidify their employment and be popular with the only voices that matter – not the tenants – but the advocacy groups.

      Also, the way the issue of bias is covered in curbed and nyobserver distracts from the fact that the judges are not following the law which means they are costing landlords legal fees – not everyone can afford to go to appeal to overturn the sushi defense and the airbnb hosting in Nolita and now they are clamoring for more free legal representation in the NY Times but everyone is blind eyes and cold shoulders to the rent regulated landlords who are being designed against because they won’t be able to fight a free lawyer. We were certainly financially damaged fighting the Housing Court case which represented for free multiple tenants including at least one tenant who was employed and should not have qualified based on need but he has the same last name as the local tenant advocate powerhouse and were probably neighbors at one time too so ….

      • JEng

        Can I sue the tenant advocate group for legal fees because their representative told the judge in front of the tape recorder that she INTENTIONALLY mailed the notices to the unmanned lobby next door to our physical office (she took two of our business cards with the proper street address) except for the last notice which was somehow mailed to the proper mailing address AFTER I greeted her on the street NOT knowing we had been sued for MONTHS because suddenly the tenants stopped taking turns calling us every weekday which would prompt me to then chase after the adjuster AND the attorney (who of course charged me for every call) asking if we could hurry the process along and YES I can prove it.

        They SET US UP. One called in the gas leak to Con Ed and then they stopped calling and sued and sent the notices except the last one to an address where we could not get the mail.

        Since they govt and the advocates and the tenants have no problem smearing GREEDY SLUMLORDS and posting our information up online and in youtube and in their newspapers, we should respond NOT to the press but on youtube – until Google in NYC decides that tenants deserve an unfair advantage and ban us and then who knows where we will have to air out OUR SIDE of the facts.

    • JEng

      The rhetoric employed in the curbed article is just as deaf ears and no sense of fair play and balanced style as the refusal to criticize the protestors in NYC against NYPD (we are NOT the same city as the one where Owen Grant was killed) and how Tanya Chan in Hong Kong can condescendingly lecture Hong Kong Police overfamiliarly addressing them as Big Brother demanding to know why she and her fancy friends can’t go and eat ramen across the street while the protesters she supports would not permit the rest of the city through their barricades to simply walk to transportation, work, school, etc. and certainly not to let ambulances through.

  • JEng

    “You Get What You Give” is NOT the rule in rent regulated landlord tenant situations. And the people who enjoy risk free casually throwing out an article about oh those landlords just want to get even more things their way as if anything goes our way NEVER have to take responsibility for their rhetoric.