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Respondent Prevails in Illegal Sublet and Non-Primary Residence Proceedings

Riverton Associates v. Dawn Russell

Since the petitioner-landlord failed to prove by a preponderance of evidence that the premises were not the respondent’s primary residence, or the respondent illegally sublet her premises, both of these claims were consolidated and final judgment was awarded to the respondents.

In Riverton Associates v. Russell, the court found the respondent’s testimony, as well as that other witness, credible in proving that she maintained the subject premises as her primary residence since 1993. Despite the petitioner’s claim that the tenant maintained a separate residence pursuant to a 1997 marriage, the court acknowledged the legitimacy of a spouse maintaining a separate dwelling as his or her primary residence stating that “[i]t is perfectly legitimate for a husband and wife to establish two separate residences.” (Citations omitted). Therefore, the court decided that the petitioner failed to prove that the respondent did not maintain an “on-going, substantial physical nexus with the premises for actual living purposes during the relevant period.”

The respondent’s documentary evidence (bank and credit-card statements, a driver’s license, income-tax returns, gas and utility bills) rebutted the petitioner’s claim that the respondent had illegally sublet the premises. Accordingly, the court dismissed the petitioner’s hold over petitions and restored the matter to the calendar to determine the respondent’s attorney’s fees application.

Adam Leitman Bailey conducted the trial for the firm.

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