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Braschi v. Stahl Assocs. Co. - 74 N.Y.2d 201, 544 N.Y.S.2d 784, 543 N.E.2d 49 (1989)

Rule:

The term family, as used in New York City, N.Y., Rules of the City of New York, tit. 9 § 2204.6(d), should not be rigidly restricted to those people who have formalized their relationship by obtaining, for instance, a marriage certificate or an adoption order. The intended protection against sudden eviction should not rest on fictitious legal distinctions or genetic history, but instead should find its foundation in the reality of family life. In the context of eviction, a more realistic, and certainly equally valid, view of a family includes two adult lifetime partners whose relationship is long term and characterized by an emotional and financial commitment and interdependence. This view comports both with our society's traditional concept of "family" and with the expectations of individuals who live in such nuclear units. Hence, it is reasonable to conclude that, in using the term "family," the New York Legislature intended to extend protection to those who reside in households having all of the normal familial characteristics.

Facts:

Miguel Braschi lived with Leslie Blanchard in a rent-controlled apartment located at 405 East 54th Street from the summer of 1975 until Blanchard's death in September of 1986. Two months later, Stahl Associates Company, the owner of the apartment building, served a notice to Braschi contending that he was a mere licensee with no right to occupy the apartment since only Blanchard had been listed as the tenant of record. In December of 1986 Stahl served Braschi with a notice to terminate informing him that he had one month to vacate the apartment and that, if the apartment was not vacated, Stahl would commence summary proceedings to evict him. Braschi initiated an action seeking a permanent injunction and a declaration of entitlement to occupy the apartment. He alleged that under the New York City Rent and Eviction Regulations, he was considered Blanchard’s family member and entitled to protection against eviction. The regulation provides that upon the death of a rent-control tenant, the landlord may not dispossess "either the surviving spouse of the deceased tenant or some other member of the deceased tenant's family who has been living with the tenant." Stahl argued that the term "family member" should have been construed, consistent with New York's intestacy laws, to mean relationships of blood, consanguinity, and adoption in order to effectuate the over-all goal of orderly succession to real property. The lower court order granted the motion by the Braschi for a preliminary injunction. On appeal, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the First Judicial Department (New York) reversed.

Issue:

Is Braschi considered a member of Blanchard's family who is entitled to protection from eviction under New York City Rent and Eviction Regulations 9?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The Court of Appeals of New York held that the term family, as used in § 2204.6(d), was not to be rigidly restricted to those people who had formalized their relationship. The intended protection against sudden eviction was not to rest on fictitious legal distinctions or genetic history, but instead should have had its foundation in the reality of family life. In the context of eviction, a more realistic view of a family included two adult lifetime partners whose relationship was long term and characterized by an emotional and financial commitment and interdependence.

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