Tuesday, April 8, 2014

HDFC Tenants' Rights

            A recent court decision highlights Housing Development Fund Corporation (also known as "HDFC") tenants' rights with respect to eviction proceedings, and the greater protections those tenants have.

            In 823 East 147th Street Housing Development Fund Corp. v. Hinnant (NYLJ 1202649981134, at 1, Civil Court, Bronx, decided March 28, 2014), the petitioner landlord, a non-profit Housing Development Fund Cooperative Corporation, commenced a holdover eviction proceeding at the expiration of the tenant's lease, but without service of a predicate termination notice.  Before serving an answer, the tenant moved pursuant to CPLR 3211(a) to dismiss the proceeding asserting that the petition failed to state a cause of action upon which relief could be granted (including that it failed to provide a reason for the eviction), and the petitioner opposed and argued that it was not required to allege a reason for the termination because the tenant did not take possession of the subject apartment until after the HDFC conversion.

            Ultimately, the Bronx Civil Court dismissed the petitioner's action, citing the lack of any reason for the eviction (other than the expiration of the tenancy), and that HDFC tenants are entitled to greater protections by way of the U.S. Constitution as HDFC facilities are "entwined" with the government, as displayed as follows: "[i]t is well established that where a governmental entity meaningfully participates in the operation or control of a building so as to be significantly 'entwined' with it, eviction proceedings must comply with constitutional Procedural Due Process guarantees...[w]ith respect to HDFCs, a government agency fixes their rentals, requires the availability of units to occupants within certain income guidelines, and restricts the use of any their profits...thereby triggering Due Process protections.  Among the most basic of these protections is notice to the tenant of the cause for the eviction, other than mere expiration of the tenancy...." 

Salvatore R. Marino, Esq.

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