Attorney failure allows plaintiff to refile claim against landlord

January 3, 2014 By Charisma L. Miller, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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A Brooklyn preacher may be given temporary possession of laundry/office space in a Jay Street building, Brooklyn Civil Court Judge Ingrid Joseph ruled.

Reverend Van Allen had subleased the space at 365 Jay St. from the Black United Fund of New York (BUF) — a community-based philanthropic organization — since 2001.  In 2013, the landlord, Jay Street HQ Housing Development Fund Company, Inc. (Jay Street HQ), locked Allen out of the premises, asserting that Allen’s lease did not grant him permission to occupy the space.

Allen, through an attorney, requested that Jay Street HQ be forced to explain the cause for locking Allen out of the space. The court denied Allen’s request, prompting him, without the assistance of an attorney, to file a motion to renew his original motion to show cause.

In most situations, a motion to renew is granted when new facts are presented that would have altered the court’s prior ruling. Allen asserted that agreements between New York City and the premises’ prior tenant allowing for the use of the space as laundry/office space should have been attached to the original motion to show cause but were, for an unknown reason, omitted by Allen’s prior attorney.

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The property documents reveled that BUF had leased the 365 Jay St. space to the city, and in June 2013, the city leased the property to Jay Street HQ. In Joseph’s reading of the agreements, when the property was leased from BUF to the city, the city agreed to uphold all agreements made during BUF’s tenancy. In other words, the agreement that BUF made with Allen to occupy laundry/office space must be upheld by any subsequent landlord including the city and Jay Street HQ.

Joseph also expressed frustration and concern over Jay Street HQ’s “use of self-help to dispossess [Allen] by changing the locks, because it is well settled that it is unlawful to change locks to evict a tenant without using judicial process,” she noted in her ruling.

Believing that Allen may have a right, in accordance with prior executed agreements, to maintain occupation of laundry/office space at 365 Jay St., Joseph granted Allen’s motion to renew and ordered that upon the renewal of his motion, Allen be granted return to 365 Jay St.

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