Cases in Real Estate
is a weekly update on real estate law, with legal principles illustrated and
explained by lawsuits from around the country. The topics are wide-ranging for
appeal to a broad spectrum of readers including lawyers, homeowners, investors
and the general public. Andrea Lee Negroni, a Washington DC
attorney and legal writer with 25 years of experience in financial services and
mortgage law, contributes the case summaries.
Real Cases in Real Estate will learn and be entertained by lawsuits
involving nuisance, trespass, zoning violations, deed restrictions, title
insurance, public utilities, mechanics liens, construction defects, adverse
possession, foreclosure and eviction, divorce and marital property rights,
tenants' rights, and more. Real Cases in Real Estate uncovers the
unpredictable, amusing, and sometimes outrageous disputes between next-door
neighbors, contractors and homeowners, condo boards and residents, real estate
brokers and homebuyers, and zoning administrators and developers.
cited case summary highlights the essential law of the case and explains the
principal legal theories and concepts relevant to the outcome. Plain language
treatment makes Real Cases in Real Estate accessible to lawyers and
follow real estate law professionally or as a hobby, you'll find something new
and useful every week in Real Cases in Real Estate.
for the Week of February 22nd, 2011
A New York City landlord's refusal to consent to
subletting was unreasonable because his conclusions about the tenant's intention
to return to the apartment were not verified with the tenant.
stabilized apartments in New York City are very valuable and tenants don't like
to give them up. The Rent Guidelines Board has a webpage on the ins-and-outs of
subletting rent stabilized apartments. (See http://www.housingnyc.com/html/resources/faq/subletting.html.)
It advises tenants that they are entitled to ask their landlords for permission
to sublet and that landlords may not withhold their consent unreasonably.
A New York court considered Patricia Murray's request to
sublet her rent stabilized apartment and found that her landlord withheld
consent based on an investigation he conducted unilaterally. The landlord did
not verify his information with Ms. Murray. The court found that because he did
not ask the tenant for additional information after his investigation showed
she did not intend to return to the apartment, he acted unreasonably in withholding
consent. Because unreasonable withholding of consent to a sublet is prohibited,
the landlord was in violation of the rent guidelines and the law.
In this case, Ms. Murray had lived in the rent-stabilized
apartment for 40 years and asked for permission to sublet in order to
recuperate from cancer in Florida. Murray provided her landlord the details of
the proposed sublet as required by law. The landlord learned that Murray bought
a residence in Florida, and that her answering machine there referred to her
"new home." Based on this information, the landlord concluded Murray did not
intend to return to her New York apartment and denied her request to sublet it.
The court concluded that the landlord withheld consent
unreasonably because his conclusion that Murray did not plan to return to New
York was speculative and without an objective basis. What the landlord needed
to do, according to this decision, was confer with Murray before making a
decision about the sublet. Because he did not, Murray could sublet her
place. As the court put it, "a landlord's unreasonable withholding of
consent is a full defense to an illegal-sublet holdover."
Lexis.com subscribers can view the enhanced version of 140 E. 46th Street LLC v. Murray, 27
Misc.3d 487, 895 N.Y.S.2d 813 (N.Y. Civ. Ct., February 22, 2010)
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Jurisdictional Shepard's® Citations and more using lexisOne's Research Value Package.
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