Housing Judge Finds for Queens Tenant Facing Eviction Over Son’s Alleged Drug Dealing
Scott Mollen was quoted in the New York Law Journal regarding a recent eviction case faced by a Queens tenant over her son’s alleged drug dealing on apartment premises.
Current New York state law allows district attorneys to compel landlords to start eviction proceedings against tenants when occupants have engaged in criminal activity in the home. In this case, a trial court eviction order was overturned due to "mitigating circumstances," such as the tenant agreeing that her son would not be allowed to be in the apartment, the fact that the son had only returned to “pick up some belongings,” and the fact that the tenant was an elderly long term tenant who was confined to a wheelchair.
Mollen told the publication that the state law often is viewed as aiming to protect fellow residents who may be put in danger by repeated criminal activity. However, in this eviction case, a criminal standard of proof is different than what a Housing Court requires. “The Housing Courts consider whether the tenant of record knew and had acquiesced to an illegal use of the apartment," said Mollen. “A key element is whether the apartment is used habitually for illegal purposes. But courts do consider "strong mitigating circumstances," as in Phyllis Williams' case.”