Commercial Department

May 10, 2014

Sacco & Fillas congratulates Chief Counsel of its Commercial Department, Luigi Brandimarte, Esq., who exemplified his unique understanding of Landlord/Tenant Law and demonstrated his trial skills by obtaining a favorable judgment after trial in the matter of:
P.S. 157 Lofts, LLC & 327 St. Nicholas, LLC v. Dennis Jerome Kyle
Civil Court of the City of New York, County of New York
Index Number 75165-2013
In P.S. 157 Lofts, LLC & 327 St. Nicholas, LLC v. Dennis Jerome Kyle, the firm represented a long-standing tenant (over 20 years) of an apartment subject to the Rent Stabilization Laws of New York. Over 20 years, the condition and appliances of the kitchen deteriorated, but the landlord made no repairs and did not replace the appliances. So, the tenant renovated the kitchen and replaced the kitchen, stove, floor and cabinetry, despite the lease agreement specifically prohibiting any alterations to the apartment without the landlord’s prior written approval.
Procedurally, the landlord then served the tenant with a notice to cure (or, correct) the alterations and changes made to the kitchen, and then commenced a summary proceeding to recover possession of the apartment and for the issuance of a warrant of eviction to remove the tenant from the apartment on grounds that the tenant breached a substantial obligation of the tenancy by engaging in illegal alterations of the apartment.
The tenant never disputed or denied that he made the renovations and alterations to the kitchen. Instead, this firm and the tenant vigorously defended against the landlord’s claims by maintaining that there was no breach of the “no alterations” clause in the lease, and that the renovations to the original kitchen were, and are, non-structural, easily removable, consistent with the contemplated use of the apartment, does not materially alter the nature and character of the apartment, and is not sufficiently substantial and/or material so as to justify the tenant’s forfeiture of the rent-regulated tenancy.
Throughout the proceedings, the landlord made several overtures to the tenant to surrender the apartment in exchange for a much smaller and higher in rent apartment in the same building. However, on counsel of this firm, the tenant did not waiver in our defense and elected to proceed with a trial.
Following a trial of over 3 days, the trial judge issued a verdict in favor of the tenant and dismissed the proceeding. In particular, the trial court ruled that “not every alteration gives rise to a cause of action on behalf of the [owner/landlord]”.

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