Imagine: A gas explosion on Park Avenue causes the city to temporarily relocate residents to a nearby hotel while their building undergoes repairs. Some of them enjoy their temporary accommodations, claim a permanent tenancy and demand rent-stabilized leases and benefits. Are people truly entitled to rent stabilization because they happened to have spent time at a temporary shelter as their homes are rebuilt? Applying the Appellate Division, First Department’s, decision in Branic International Realty v. Pitt,1 the answer would be yes. The New York Court of Appeals will hear argument on Oct. 22.
The First Department held in Branic that a beneficiary of a city-administered shelter plan, in temporary occupancy in a shelter continuously for six months, is a “permanent tenant” under the Rent Stabilization Code, entitled to rent-stabilization benefits, including a rent-regulated lease. The Branic decision is far-reaching, as no court has ever granted rent-regulated status to a temporary benefit shelter recipient. The court failed, however, to consider the temporary nature of the housing and the specific limitations of “shelter” accommodations under the Social Services Law.
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