LEASE WAS NOT AN ATTEMPT TO THWART (NYC) RENT CONTROL AND WAS THEREFORE VALID AND ENFORCEABLE.
The First Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Tom, determined the lease in question was not an attempt to thwart rent control and was therefore valid and enforceable. The lease related to three apartments which were leased at different times to the defendant-tenant, who combined them into a single unit. Two of the apartments were rent-controlled and one was rent-stabilized and it was unclear at the time the lease was drawn what law applied:
… [T]his case is clearly unique because unlike the many cases where we invalidated leases seeking to circumvent the rent laws, here the parties truly did not know the rent-regulated status of the combined apartments. It appears that there were two rent-controlled apartments that were combined with a rent-stabilized apartment sometime in 1977. Fundamentally, in the foregoing cases there was no uncertainty about the rent-regulated status of the apartments and no question that the parties knowingly attempted to circumvent the rent laws. In contrast, the parties in this matter were unsure about the status of the combined apartment. This confusion was well founded and even supported by the fact that the parties received conflicting determinations concerning the legal status of this apartment from Rent Administrators … regarding the apartment’s status. Furthermore, the lease contemplated the possibility that the apartment could not be treated as intended by the parties. Indeed, while the lease provided for the combined apartments to move from rent control to rent stabilization, the parties explicitly recognized that they might be “prohibited or precluded” from enforcing their intended procedure. This is quite different from those leases which purposely sought to skirt the law and had no regard for the rent regulation scheme whatsoever. In other words, this agreement contemplated not that both parties would evade regulatory coverage but that they would seek approval of their agreement … . Thus, this case is distinguishable from those involving leases which knowingly and purposely sought to evade the rent laws. Here, there was no intent by the parties to the lease agreement to circumvent the rent laws. 204 Columbia Hgts., LLC v Manheim, 2017 NY Slip Op 00425, 1st Dept 1-19-17
LANDLORD-TENANT (LEASE WAS NOT AN ATTEMPT TO THWART (NYC) RENT CONTROL AND WAS THEREFORE VALID AND ENFORCEABLE)/RENT CONTROL (NYC) (LEASE WAS NOT AN ATTEMPT TO THWART (NYC) RENT CONTROL AND WAS THEREFORE VALID AND ENFORCEABLE)/LEASES (LEASE WAS NOT AN ATTEMPT TO THWART (NYC) RENT CONTROL AND WAS THEREFORE VALID AND ENFORCEABLE)