Housing Court is not the proper forum to determine whether a building superintendent can evict a woman from the apartment they have shared since 1990, a state judge has ruled. Noting that the couple “held themselves out to society as companions who were emotionally and financially committed to each other” for 25 years before their relationship ended 2 1/2 years ago, Bronx Housing Court Judge Brenda Spears (See Profile) concluded in a Nov. 13 decision that Delia Reyes was more than a mere licensee of Julio Lopez.
“[A]s there was a familial relationship between the parties and the respondent’s occupancy of the subject apartment was because of that relationship, this court lacks jurisdiction to determine the rights, if any, of the respondent to remain in the subject apartment,” Spears wrote in Lopez v. Reyes, L&T 46875/11.
Lopez argued that he and Reyes were never married and had no children together. But Spears said her holding was consistent with New York courts’ often-expressed determination “that a narrow definition of of ‘family,’ relating only to the nuclear family with children is inapplicable to modern society,” she said. See Braschi v. Stahl, 74 NY2d 201.
If the couple were married, Spears noted, Lopez would not be able to bring a summary action to evict Reyes, “until other obligations were addressed by a court of competent jurisidiction and the marriage terminated.” Since Housing Court is not such a court, Spears rejected Lopez’s petition and ruled he must seek relief in either Family or Supreme Court. “We were very pleased with the outcome,” said Reyes’ attorney, Irwin Schwartz of Legal Services NYC. “This is an interesting issue that’s not often ruled upon.”