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Scott E. Mollen

Landlord-Tenant—Nuisance—Tenant Smoked Inside Apartment—No House Rule Or Lease Provision Prohibited Such Conduct—Arguments With Other Tenants Were Isolated Incidents—Subjective Fear Is Not Actionable—Traffic Created By Caregivers to Disabled Child Did Not Constitute a Nuisance

This decision by the Appellate Term (court), involved a holdover proceeding “to recover possession of a rent-controlled apartment on the ground that tenant created a nuisance.” The tenant asserted that the alleged misconduct could not constitute a nuisance and other allegations were “vague and conclusory” and “were insufficient” to constitute a nuisance claim. A jury had returned a verdict in the landlord’s favor. The trial court granted the tenant’s motion to set aside the verdict, pursuant to CPLR 4404(a) and entered a judgment dismissing the petition. The court affirmed.

The New York City Rent and Eviction Regulations state that a tenant commits or permits a nuisance when “his conduct is such as to interfere substantially with the comfort and safety of the landlord or of other tenants”…. To constitute a nuisance, a tenant must “interfere with a person’s interest in the use and enjoyment of land”…. “Not every annoyance will constitute a nuisance”…. Rather, “[n]uisance imports a continuous invasion of rights—a pattern of continuity or recurrence of objectionable conduct’”….

In order to set aside a jury verdict on the grounds that it is not supported by sufficient evidence, a court must determine that “there is simply no valid line of reasoning and permissible inferences which could possibly lead rational [jurors] to the conclusion reached by the jury on the basis of the evidence presented at trial.” The court found that the trial court had afforded the landlord “every inference that may be properly drawn from the evidence presented…, and viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to landlord, properly granted the branch of tenant’s motion, . . ., seeking to set aside the jury verdict …and for judgment as a matter of law dismissing the petition.”

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