245 Realty Asso. v. Sussis – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In 245 Realty Asso. v. Sussis (243 A.D.2d 29 [1st Dept 1998]), the family member exercised his rights within the Code's framework. Specifically, he properly executed and returned a renewal lease form to the landlord with an accompanying letter from his attorney advising the landlord of the tenant's death, that he had resided in the apartment with the tenant for more than two years, and that he was exercising his right to a renewal lease under the Rent Stabilization Law. (Id. at 30.)

In deciding that the family member was entitled to attorney's fees under the lease which specifically granted him successor rights, the Court noted that "[t]he right to occupancy was extant before resolution of the holdover proceeding." (Id. at 33-34.)

The Court, however, went on to note, "in no manner do we suggest that the vesting of statutory succession rights is automatic upon the death of the named tenant; only that the right to be offered a renewal lease . . . arose because of the tenant's death. If the landlord can demonstrate that the putative tenant is not a bona fide resident at the time the renewal lease is offered, then the presumption of abandonment and waiver of the right to succession operates." (Id. at 35.)