ATM Two, L. L. C., Petitioner,
Ismael Ramos et al., Respondents.
Wolfson & Grossman, Westbury, for petitioner.
Feldherr & Feldherr, Westbury, for respondents.
Kenneth L. Gartner, J.
This decision, reached after trial without jury, significantly
differs with the conclusion reached by another recent officially reported decision addressing (1) the extent of the discretion possessed by a court to excuse a rent-stabilized tenant's failure to timely return an executed acceptance of an offer of a renewal lease; and (2) the effect upon this issue of new amendments to the Emergency Tenant Protection Regulations.
Respondent Dennis Ramos resides in the subject rent-stabilized apartment with his wife, respondent Carmen Ramos, and their three children. Respondent Ismael Ramos is Dennis's father. Ismael now lives in Florida. Ismael is the named tenant.
Ismael moved to Florida over 10 years ago. Since Ismael moved to Florida, the offers of renewal leases required by the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974 were repeatedly tendered by the landlord, and executed by Ismael. Dennis would forward to Ismael in Florida the renewal offers received by certified mail from the landlord. Ismael would execute the acceptances of the renewal offers and send them back to Dennis for transmission to the landlord.
This past year, the process went awry.
On or about May 16, 2001, the landlord sent, by certified mail addressed to Ismael Ramos, an offer for a renewal lease. Dennis, however, never received it at the premises. Dennis does not know exactly why he never received it. One possibility suggested by him is that while the address correctly contained the legend " Apartment 2E," it also, next to Ismael Ramos's name, contained the legend " G2." The landlord asserted that this legend indicated only that the lease carried with it the rental of two (" 2" ) garage (" G" ) spaces. Nevertheless, the G2 legend, Dennis suggests, might have been taken by the post office to be the designation of another apartment on the second floor, resulting in the letter's misdirection.
According to notations apparently placed on the letter by the post office, delivery was attempted on May 22 and June 4. The letter was then returned to the landlord as " unclaimed."
On or about June 25, 2001, the landlord issued a notice of termination declaring that the occupancy of the premises by the Ramos family constituted overcrowding, and that the lease would be terminated effective July 13 if the condition was not cured.
Dennis immediately contacted Joseph Nicaj, a representative of the landlord identified in published news reports as " operations manager." (See, ...