If you are New York landlord seeking to evict a tenant from a basement apartment in a one family house, some good news. An appellate court has clarified that there is no bar to the collection of rent from a tenant in a basement apartment located in a house with a certificate of occupancy for only one dwelling.
In the case of Madden v. Juillet, a Nassau County landlord sued its tenant for non-payment of rent in Housing Court. The case resulted in a final judgment allowing the landlord to request a warrant of eviction from the court. By the time the warrant issued, the landlord was owed additional rent which could not be included in the original judgment. Unfortunately, as a general rule, even though rents keep accruing while a landlord is waiting for issuance of warrants, scheduling of evictions and delays due to numerous orders to show cause by tenants asking for extensions of time to pay or vacate, money judgments in housing court do not increase as the tenant incurs more debt by remaining in the premises. Judgments are not adjusted to reflect the landlords continuing losses and judges seldom require tenants to pay landlords for extensions of time. So, here, the landlord sued the tenant in small claims court for the balance of the rent due.
The small claims court found in favor of the landlord in the amount of $875.00. The case was appealed and the appellate court upheld the landlord’s right to collect payment for the basement apartment despite the fact that the apartment violated the certificate of occupancy.
Citing an earlier New York City case, Pickering v. Chappe, a 2010 Staten island case, the appellate court found that only the Multiple Dwelling Law imposes such a penalty. Since a one family house is not a multiple dwelling the penalty does not apply.