Lesbian couple sues landlord for leaving wife’s name off lease

Case is just "the tip of the iceberg," lawyer says

LAMBDA attorney Susan Sommer
LAMBDA attorney Susan Sommer

Dava Weinstein and Dorothy Calvini, a lesbian couple who live in a rent-stabilized Apartment On West 86th Street, are suing their landlord for refusing to put both women’s names on the lease.

Jacob Weinreb, they allege, is violating their rights by refusing to recognize Calvini as a co-tenant in the apartment. The couple, who have lived in their Upper West Side apartment since 1977 with only Weinstein’s name on the lease, married in Iowa in March 2011. Three months later, gay marriage was legalized in New York.

Weinstein had to sign a new lease last December and added Calvini’s name as a co-tenant, but Weinreb rejected the move, later saying New York State law does not recognize Calvini as a tenant.

Weinstein ultimately signed a new lease without Calvini, then filed suit along with the help of gay rights group LAMBDA.

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Even after receiving a letter explaining New York’s recognition of gay marriages in other states, Weinreb “refused to budge,” LAMBDA attorney Susan Sommer told the New York Daily News.

“They stuck to their guns. It amounts to rank discrimination,” she told the Daily News. The case is the second in which a gay couple had trouble getting both spouses’ names on the lease, she said, though in the other instance the landlord backed down before the matter went to court.

“We suspect this could be the tip of the iceberg,” Sommer told the Daily News.

Neither Weinstein nor Calvini were available to comment to the Daily News, and a manager in Weinreb’s office told the paper his firm had no comment. [NYDN]Julie Strickland