Judge Marc Finkelstein
Landlord sought possession of the subject apartment from Pearline Weston in this holdover proceeding alleging she was a licensee of now-deceased rent stabilized tenant of record Winston Weston, her brother-in-law, and her license to occupy the premises terminated upon his death. Pearline asserted an affirmative defense of succession alleging she resided in the premises with Winston for 11 years before his death in a non-traditional familial relationship characterized by financial and emotional commitment and interdependence. The court found landlord established its prima facie case, but concluded Pearline and Winston lived together as brother and sister after the death of Pearline’s husband, and Winston took care of her. It also noted Pearline took care of Winston after he suffered a stroke and required assistance with daily living, finding the two shared all household expenses. Also, the court noted despite Winston dying in Jamaica—where he visited family regularly—there was no evidence of an intent to vacate the premises It ruled Pearline and Winston held themselves out as family, and evidenced emotional and financial commitment and interdependence, constituting a non-traditional family relationship and entitled Pearline to succeed to the tenancy.