Seley v. Churchill Court Associates – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Seley v. Churchill Court Associates NYLJ, April 7, 1989 p.28 c. 1 [A.T. 2 & 11th], the tenant had sublet the apartment without the prior knowledge of the landlord.

The sublease continued for approximately 20 months. When the building was sold and a new managing agent took control, the subtenant was asked by the agent to move out. The sub tenant eventually agreed to vacate, surrendering her keys to the building super.

When petitioner sought to re-enter the apartment the landlord refused. An illegal lockout proceeding ensued and the trial court dismissed the tenant's petition on the grounds that the tenants breach of the lease terminated her rights to possession.

In reversing the lower court decision, the Appellate court found that the subtenant had no authority to surrender the apartment and that the mere breach of the lease by illegally subletting did not serve to terminate the tenants rights.

The court additionally found that the tenant had never intended to sever her ties with the apartment as she used the address for voting, paid the rent each month and never had a forwarding address.