The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, reinstated plaintiffs-tenants’ causes of action for statutory harassment, private nuisance, assault, breach of the warranty of habitability, as well as the demand for punitive damages, in this action by tenants against the landlord alleging both habitability-issues and the landlord’s imminent threat to use force. With respect to the tenant (statutory) harassment cause of action, the court wrote:
Plaintiffs alleged … there were repeated interruptions of essential services such as heat, hot water, gas, and electricity, as well as disruptions in elevator service, phone, television, and internet service; large amounts of construction dust, including lead dust, in the public hallways; flooding and mold on the tenth floor; rat and vermin infestations; a lack of building security in the lobby and a lack of a fire safety system. * * *
The complaint states a cause of action for harassment under Administrative Code of City of NY §§ 27—2005(d) and 27—2115(m), as Supreme Court is “a court of competent jurisdiction” for the purposes of Administrative Code § 27—2115(m)(2) … . Contrary to the motion court’s determination, the statute expressly provides that only claims arising [from conditions in the building, that is, under subparagraphs b, c, and g of Administrative Code § 27-2004(a)(48)(ii), require the existence of a predicate violation to state a claim for harassment. Here, plaintiffs assert their first cause of action under Administrative Code § 27-2004(a)(48)(ii)(a), based on allegations that defendant Chelsea Hotel Owner, LLC’s principal, defendant Ira Drukier, was “making express or implied threats that force will be used” against plaintiffs, and therefore no predicate violation was required for this cause of action. …
On the third cause of action, for harassment arising from deprivation of services, plaintiffs state a claim under the statute by asserting that the alleged conditions were the subject of violations that, if established, would support a claim for harassment (see Robinson v Day, 103 AD3d 584, 587 [1st Dept 2013] [“A complaint need only ‘allege the misconduct complained of in sufficient detail to inform the defendants of the substance of the claims'”]). Evidence of the specific violations issued in connection with the alleged conditions may be obtained in discovery as contemplated by the statute (see Administrative Code § 27-2115[h][ii]). Berg v Chelsea Hotel Owner, LLC, 2022 NY Slip Op 01511. First Dept 3-10-22
Practice Point: The courts have recently been fleshing out the proof requirements for tenant (statutory) harassment under the NYC Administrative Code. Here, both the habitability issues and the landlord’s assaultive behavior (imminent threat of force) fit into the criteria for a valid tenant (statutory) harassment cause of action.