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Perspectives

Cooperative Board Authorized to Evict Tenant-Shareholder Who Made Unauthorized Alterations and Breached Settlement Stipulation

The Appellate Division has affirmed rulings authorizing a Cooperative to evict a tenant-shareholder who made unauthorized renovations to her apartment and then failed to comply with a negotiated stipulation of settlement even after extensions of the deadline to do so. 35 Jackson House Apartments Corp. v. Yaworski, 2018 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5261, 2018 N.Y. Slip Op. 5301 (2d Dep’t July 18, 2018).

After the tenant-shareholder made the unauthorized renovations, the Cooperative served a notice to cure and then filed a “holdover” eviction proceeding against her in Housing Court.  The parties then negotiated a stipulation of settlement, which was “so ordered” by the court.  The stipulation required the tenant-shareholder to take certain actions within 30 days, “including hiring a licensed and insured plumber, electrician, and architect and/or structural engineer to inspect the premises and ensure the alterations complied with code requirements.”  The tenant-shareholder did not meet this deadline.  Twice the Cooperative returned to court, arguing that the tenant-shareholder had not complied with the stipulation.  Both times, the court extended the deadline, but directed the tenant-shareholder to comply with the stipulation.  The tenant-shareholder still did not comply fully, and the Cooperative filed a third motion.

At this point the court’s patience was exhausted, and it authorized the Cooperative to execute a warrant of eviction against the tenant.  The Appellate Term affirmed this ruling, agreeing that the tenant had failed to “substantially comply” with the stipulation to which she had agreed, and that eviction was warranted in light of the repeated defaults.

The tenant-shareholder appealed again, but unsuccessfully. The Appellate Division found that “the shareholder repeatedly failed to comply with material provisions of the stipulation despite two extensions granted by the Civil Court. The terms required the shareholder to provide the licenses for the workers, which she did not do, prior to the inspection of the premises and the performance of any necessary alterations.  Under these circumstances, the shareholder did not substantially comply with the stipulation and the default was not de minimis.  Accordingly, the trial court “providently exercised its discretion in granting that branch of the landlord’s motion which was for leave to execute a warrant of eviction.”