Civil Court of the City of New York, Bronx County
& COHEN, P.C. Attorneys for Petitioner By: Anisha Tanna,
HEALTH LEGAL SERVICES Attorneys for Respondents By: Emilio
MIRIAM BREIER JUDGE.
October 31, 2016, the five captioned summary holdover
proceedings were consolidated under Index No. L & T
33615/16. At that time, the petitioner was Denise Keyes, who
later sold the subject building, 1760 Topping Avenue, Bronx,
New York to petitioner, Dov Feldheim. Dov Feldheim who bought
the building on March 6, 2017, was substituted as petitioner
in these consolidated proceedings by stipulation dated June
fact that there were five separate proceedings pending to
recover possession of five units on the first floor of this
three unit multiple dwelling, should have been a red flag
that the units and the building could potentially be subject
to rent stabilization. Petitioner sought to recover
possession of the five rooms in the first floor unit through
service of individual thirty day termination notices and
petitions alleging that the rooms were not subject to rent
stabilization. The defenses of de facto rent stabilization
status and failure to serve termination notices under the
Rent Stabilization Law were raised by the respondents in
their answer dated April 13, 2017 served after the denial of
their motion to dismiss the petitions on these grounds.
(Spears, JHC, March 27, 2017).
consolidated holdover proceedings were tried before the court
on August 24, 2017. Respondent, Tarife Stuckey, who was
incarcerated, appeared by video conference. All other named
respondents with the exception of Angela Toure were present
for the trial. Petitioner and respondents were represented by
counsel. The court reserved decision and requested post-trial
memoranda, which were submitted by counsel.
presented its prima facie case through Dov Feldheim, the
owner of the premises. A certified deed dated March 6, 2017
describing the premises as a "three family
dwelling" and the multiple dwelling registration for the
three story three unit building were entered into evidence.
testified that he was informed by the prior owner of the
premises, Denise Keyes, of the pendency of the consolidated
proceedings. He testified that he had not received any
rent/use and occupancy from the named respondents and that
they do not have leases. Mr. Feldheim testified that a tenant
on the third floor of the building pays him $2, 058.00 in
rent every month. Petitioner rested.
first witness, Adelle Sharp, testified that her mother, Ruth
Sharp, has lived in room No.5 in the first floor apartment
since February 14, 2014. Adelle Sharp testified that she
visits her mother "all the time" and was there the
day before the trial. Ms. Sharp testified that upon entering
the apartment there are three bedrooms and a bathroom to the
right, two closets, and two additional bedrooms including her
mother's #5 with a communal kitchen in the rear. Her
mother has a key to her room and does not have access to any
other rooms except the shared bathroom and kitchen.
second witness, James Shepard, testified that he moved into
room #1 of the first floor apartment on July 21, 2012 along
with his fiancé, Angela Toure, and they still reside
there. He responded to an ad for the apartment that was
placed in the Amsterdam News, and spoke with Denise
Keyes. Mr. Shepard testified that he paid $750.00 cash to Ms.
Keyes; $250.00 each for his deposit, security and first
week's rent. He was given a key to the apartment and the
door of his room, but no receipt was given. The agreement
between him and Ms. Keyes was for rent in the amount of
$250.00 to be paid in cash weekly on Fridays as Ms. Keyes did
not want a paper trail. Utilities were included in the rent.
Mr. Shepard lives in the room with Ms. Toure and they share
the common kitchen and bathroom.
third witness, Tarife Stuckey, testified that he moved into
room #2 in the first floor apartment on March 6, 2014. He had
heard about the apartment from Mr. Shepard. Mr. Stuckey paid
Ms. Keyes $320.00 by money order to secure the apartment, but
subsequent payments were in cash as Ms. Keyes insisted.
Initially he had an agreement with Ms. Keyes to pay $320.00
biweekly, but she raised the rent to $340.00 because the
included utilities had risen.
Stuckey testified that he lives in room #2 by himself. There
is a lock on the door to which he has a key. The room was
furnished with a bed and dresser. There is no bathroom and
kitchen in his room, and he shares the kitchen and bathroom
with the five other people with whom he lives in the
fourth witness, Edward Alexander, testified that he lives in
room #3 in the first floor apartment. Prior to moving in in
March 2013, Mr. Alexander was living in a homeless shelter. A
housing agent at the shelter ...