Thursday, July 25, 2013
Joe Singer points us toward a New York case that erodes one of the common law's strongest protections for tenants:
The New York Court of Appeals relaxed a traditional rule of property law by holding that a commercial landlord’s interference with possession of 12 square feet of space out of a total of 15,000 square feet does not constitute a partial actual eviction entitling the tenant to a full rent abatement. Eastside Exhibition Corp. v. 210 East 86th Street Corp., 965 N.E.2d 246 (N.Y. 2012). The court noted that withholding of the entire amount of rent is the proper remedy when there has been a partial eviction by a landlord but a partial eviction will not be found if the landlord’s intrusion is trivial and has no effect on the tenant’s use or enjoyment of the property. In this case, the landlord merely placed cross-bracing between two steel support columns on both of tenant’s floors in a manner that did not affect the tenant’s use or enjoyment of the leased premises. The only effects of the cross-bracing were minimal effect on the flow of foot traffic and the fact that the bracing was unattractive, insufficient to constitute partial eviction.