Kent Village Housing v. Wertzberger

Landlord/Tenant Law

New York Law Journal


Judge Marc Finkelstein

This holdover action was predicated on the denial of succession rights and a certificate of eviction issued to Kent Village tenants by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). Respondent tenants never challenged the denial, thus Kent argued the certificate was "inviolable" and could not be collaterally attacked. Yet, 31 other tenants sued in Supreme Court for injunctive relief after they were also retroactively denied succession rights. The court noted collateral estoppel was an "elastic doctrine" based on concepts of fairness, and was not to be rigidly or mechanically applied. The supreme court upheld the inviolability of the contractual leases given to the Kent tenants finding they were entitled to presume their Kent-issued leases were sanctioned by HPD. It found HPD disregarded its own regulatory scheme, finding the procedure was "new, unfair, unauthorized and illegal." It applied equitable estoppel to HPD and vacated the decision. The instant court noted while respondents were not parties to that action, the same improper procedures were used in retroactively denying their succession rights. As such, it applied equitable estoppel against Kent and HPD, granting respondents' motion and dismissing the petition.

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