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Landlord prevails in tenant's string of cases

When the term "lawsuit" is mentioned in terms of a landlord/tenant dispute in New York, it is automatically assumed that the property owner is guilty of some sort of error, lack of oversight, failure to adhere to the law, absence of necessary repairs, or due to some other issue that left the renter in dire straits and with nowhere to turn. It is often forgotten that the landlord could be victimized just as easily as the tenant. With some landlord-tenant disputes, the cases might not be warranted or the landlord could be on the side of right. Therefore, both sides need legal assistance when there are allegations of wrongdoing, as evidenced in one recent incident.

There, a man who has lived in single room occupancy (SRO) apartments and has a history of filing lawsuits against landlords has been barred from doing so by a New York judge. The man was informed that without legal counsel he cannot continue to file his cases against the owners of the residence, located on Bowery on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The man has filed almost two dozen lawsuits that were deemed frivolous. According to the judge, the man was using his ability to sue to harass the landlords.

The man had paid $8.32 each night for the room without a window and, over the course of seven years, filed 23 different lawsuits. He wanted repairs made to the room but did not allow workers to come in. One former owner who had been sued expressed his happiness that the man would no longer be allowed to continue filing his lawsuits without reason. The new owner spent more than $200,000 defending the cases and had to appear in court more than 100 times. The tenant will be allowed to file his cases again if he receives permission from a chief judge or hires an attorney.

This case indicates how important it is for both sides in a landlord-tenant dispute to have legal help. Landlord obligations on a rental property are real, but that does not mean that a tenant can simply file cases for specious reasons. Landlords and tenants need to make certain they are aware of the law and how to file a legitimate claim if it is necessary to do so. A lawyer who is experienced in New York real estate law can be of paramount importance toward this end.

Source: The Real Deal, "Flophouse tenant barred from suing Bowery SRO owners," Nov. 14, 2016

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