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:

Appellant, Miguel Braschi, was living with Leslie Blanchard in a rent-controlled apartment from the summer of 1975 until Blanchard's death in September of 1986. In Nov. 1986, respondent, Stahl Associates Company ("Stahl"), the owner of the apartment building, served a notice to cure on Braschi contending that he was a mere licensee with no right to occupy the apartment since only Blanchard was the tenant of record. In Dec. 1986 Stahl served Braschi with a notice to terminate, informing the latter 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 then initiated an action seeking a permanent injunction and a declaration of entitlement to occupy the apartment. By order to show cause, Braschi then moved for a preliminary injunction, pendente lite, enjoining Stahl from evicting him until a court could determine whether he was a member of Blanchard's family within the meaning of 9 NYCRR 2204.6(d). The trial court granted the motion, but on appeal, the appellate division reversed, concluding that section 2204.6(d) provided noneviction protection only to "family members within traditional, legally recognized familial relationships." Since Braschi's and Blanchard's relationship was not one given formal recognition by the law, the court held that Braschi could not seek the protection of the noneviction ordinance. Braschi sought review.

ISSUE:

Did the relationship between Braschi and Blanchard fall within the meaning "family" as used in § 2204.6(d)?

ANSWER:

Yes

CONCLUSION:

After examining the nature of the relationship between the two men, the state's highest court concluded that appellant was a "family member" within the meaning of the regulation and that a preliminary injunction was warranted. The court based the decision on its finding that the long-term interdependent nature of the 10-year relationship between Braschi and Blanchard fulfilled "any definitional criteria of the term 'family.'" The court 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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