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YORK RIVER HOUSE v. PAKISTAN MISSION TO THE UN

April 22, 1993

YORK RIVER HOUSE, Plaintiff,
v.
PAKISTAN MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN S. MARTIN, JR.

 JOHN S. MARTIN, JR., District Judge:

 Background

 Plaintiff York River House is the landlord of a penthouse apartment (the "Apartment") located in Manhattan. Plaintiff and defendant Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations *fn1" have entered into nine separate leases of this apartment covering the twenty-year period from February 1, 1970 to January 31, 1990 continuously (collectively, the "Leases"). Each lease designated defendant as tenant, although the fourth lease (covering February 1, 1976 to January 31, 1979) also designated "occupant Khalid Ali" as tenant, and the sixth lease (covering February 1, 1981 to January 31, 1984) also designated "occupant I. Patel" as tenant.

 Defendant has used the Apartment to house diplomatic employees; during the period of the Leases, four separate persons (all apparently press attaches) have occupied the Apartment sequentially. The current occupant, Mr. Mansoor Suhail, has resided there with his wife and three children since approximately October 1983.

 Plaintiff has declined to renew the most recent lease, and defendant, through Mr. Suhail and his family, has been holding over and remaining in possession of the Apartment without plaintiff's permission, claiming that it is entitled to demand a renewal because the Apartment is a "primary residence" as set forth in the Rent Stabilization Law of the State of New York and the Rent Stabilization Code for Rent Stabilized Apartments in New York City. Plaintiff disputes that the Apartment is a "primary residence". The parties cross-move for summary judgment; there being no genuine issue of material fact in dispute, adjudication by summary judgment is appropriate.

 Discussion

 Rent Stabilization Law

 The First Department of the Appellate Term of New York, after a six-year development of case law, has recently set forth the standard for determining whether premises leased by a corporate tenant may be considered a "primary residence":

 
First, it must be ascertained what individual or individuals are contractually designated by the corporate tenant and landlord to occupy the premises, and if, in fact, those individuals are the occupants. Secondly, assuming the occupants are the intended beneficiaries of the corporate tenancy, it must be determined if they are using the premises as a primary residence. If the premises are being used as the primary residence of the contractually designated parties then a rent stabilized lease renewal must be offered.

 Schwartz Landes Assocs. v. New York City Conciliation and Appeals Bd., 117 A.D.2d 74, 502 N.Y.S.2d 151, 153 (1st Dept. 1986) (citations omitted); see Cale Dev. Co. v. CAB, 94 A.D.2d 229, 463 N.Y.S.2d 814 (1st Dept. 1983), aff'd, 61 N.Y.2d 976, 475 N.Y.S.2d 278, 463 N.E.2d 619 (1984). It is irrelevant for this analysis that defendant is a foreign government rather than a domestic corporation; the two are to be treated equally under this standard. Sommer v. CAB, 99 A.D.2d 991, 473 N.Y.S.2d 440 (1st Dept. 1984).

 Thus, an apartment may serve as a "primary residence" when the lease contemplates that a particular class of persons is to reside there and the residents are members of that class. However, "the identity of the intended beneficiaries of a corporate tenancy must be established by reference to the lease; it is contractually determined." Schwartz Landes, 502 N.Y.S.2d at 153. Although the beneficiaries may be an unnamed class of persons, id. at 154, there must be some description of them in the lease itself, id. at 153.

 Here, the lease sought to be renewed wholly failed to describe any class of persons authorized to occupy the Apartment. While defendant argues that the "course of dealing" of the parties served to notify plaintiff of the use of the Apartment, it is unnecessary address this issue; that such a course of dealing was not memorialized in the lease is dispositive. Thus, plaintiff was and is ...


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