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COURT AUTHORIZES EVICTION OF TENANT FOR COLLYER-TYPE CONDITIONS IN APARTMENT A GANFER & SHORE, LLP CLIENT ADVISORY APRIL 2008

A New York court has authorized the eviction of a rent-stabilized tenant in a cooperative building based in his exceptionally poor sanitary habits, which resulted in offensive orders and insect infestation that rendered the apartment unfit for human habitation and a health-and-safety risk to other tenants.Cabrini Terrace Joint Venture v. OBrien, 18 Misc. 3d 1145(A), 2008 WL 623927 (Civil Ct. N.Y. Co. Mar. 7, 2008).

The tenant, an attorney, had resided in his apartment for more than 40 years.His landlord brought a proceeding seeking his eviction based nuisance and violation of a substantial obligation of the lease, based upon conditions in his apartment.At trial, several witnesses testified in detail about problems such as belongings strewn everywhere and piled up to three feet off the floor, objectionable smells that could be perceived from several feet outside the apartment, insect and rodent infestation, exposed electrical wires, and overall filthy conditions.The tenant admitted that these conditions had previously existed but claimed that he had cleaned his apartment and addressed the problems.To resolve this issue, the Housing Judge made an unannounced inspection to the apartment, after which he concluded that the filth in respondents apartment was everywhere and extreme to the point that eviction was warranted on grounds of nuisance.

The court next addressed whether the tenant should be allowed a further opportunity to cure the nuisance.Courts frequently afford tenants an opportunity to cure the breach before granting the drastic remedy of terminating a regulated tenancy.In this case, however, the court observed that the tenant had already had many opportunities to cure the unacceptable conditions.The nuisance in respondents apartment has been ongoing for years, the court found, including the full year that has elapsed since the landlord had filed the proceeding.Under the circumstances, the court concluded that [t]he harm to other tenants in the apartment building outweighs the harm in respondents forfeiting his apartment and terminated the rent-stabilized tenancy.

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