After years of an uphill battle against a relentless and aggressive landlord, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., representing the tenant, prevailed in a three day trial in New York County Civil Court. Judge Halprin, ruling from the bench, declared the tenant victorious, just minutes after the attorneys delivered their closing arguments.
It was a long road to victory for the tenant. Years ago, the tenant and her husband, paleontologists with a small business, lived together in a tiny and crammed studio apartment around the corner from their store. So when the tenant was presented with an opportunity to rent a one bedroom rent stabilized apartment just blocks away, she signed the lease and the couple immediately spread their lives over the two apartments and the store. Naturally, at the time, rather than going through the motions of re-registering all her mail, it was convenient for the tenant to keep all her mail coming to the original apartment. The tenant thought nothing of it.
But the landlord thought otherwise. Represented by an aggressive real estate law firm, and wanting to take back the apartment, the landlord brought a non-primary residence case against the tenant claiming that her failure to forward her mail proved that she did not live in the new apartment. At trial, the landlord paraded the tenant’s monthly statements and bills in front of the judge, most of which were still being sent to the first apartment. The landlord even brought in a witness from Con Edison to testify that the electricity usage in the subject apartment was lower than the couples’ studio. After the tenant herself got on the stand to testify in her own defense, the relentless landlord’s attorneys hounded her with documents, questions, and accusations during a cross-examination that was conducted by two attorneys and which spanned over the course of two days.
Nevertheless, not deterred by the landlord’s strong showing of documentary evidence, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., crafted a creative and pioneering argument which ultimately prevailed in the case: “The proximity of the two apartments to each other and to the business created a nexus over which the couple spread their lives equally.” Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., bolstered the defense using the tenant husband’s doctor who testified at trial. The doctor explained that over the years the husband developed sleep apnea which caused him to snore loudly and uncontrollably throughout the night. As a result, after spending the entire day working in their store the tenant and her husband were forced to stay in separate apartments to get even a few hours of sleep in a night.
Therefore, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., argued that the fact that the tenant may have been away from the apartment on several nights out of the week did not prevent the apartment from being her primary residence. Regarding the mail, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. argued that the original building had a doorman who held the couple’s mail in the lobby, making it easier for the couple to pick up the mail on their way to either apartment or their store.
In the end justice prevailed as Judge Halprin dismissed the proceeding with prejudice. The judge adopted Adam Leitman Bailey P.C.’s arguments holding that the tenant maintained a “substantial ongoing nexus with the subject premises.”
Christopher Halligan of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., conducted the trial while Jeffrey R. Metz drafted the trial brief. Vladimir Mironenko, the author of this case study, second seated the trial. Dov Treiman and Adam Leitman Bailey also participated in the case and trial.