Guzman v. Haven Plaza Housing Dev. Fund Co – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Guzman v. Haven Plaza Housing Dev. Fund Co. (69 NY2d 559, 564-566, 509 N.E.2d 51, 516 N.Y.S.2d 451 [1987]), the Court of Appeals' seminal decision respecting the liability of out-of-possession landlords, the Court held that the violation of Administrative Code §§ 27-127 and 27-128, which respectively require a building's owner to keep means of egress in good working order and to bear the responsibility "at all times for the safe maintenance of the building and its facilities," constituted sufficient statutory authority for the imposition of liability upon an out-of-possession landlord with a right of re-entry.

In that case, the Court imposed liability on an out-of-possession landlord for its failure to safely maintain an interior staircase and keep it in good repair, since the staircase provided less than adequate handrail clearance. Guzman reiterated that Multiple Dwelling Law § 78, which provides that "every multiple dwelling . . . and every part thereof and the lot upon which it is situated, shall be kept in good repair," provides an additional statutory predicate for imposition of liability upon an out-of-possession landlord.