Braschi v. Stahl Associates Company, 74 N.Y. 2d 201 (1989)

Facts: Braschi lived with another male Blanchard in a rent-controlled apartment in New York for eleven years. Blanchard died in 1986 and subsequently, Stahl Associates Company served notice on Braschi that he was a mere licensee with no right to occupy the apartment since only Blanchard was the tenant of record.

Procedural History: The Supreme Court concluded that Braschi was a “family member” within the meaning of the rent control regulation based on the interdependent nature of Braschi’s 10 year relationship with Blanchard. The Appellate Division reversed when it concluded that the regulation provides non-eviction protection only to “family members within traditional, legally recognized familial relationships.”

Issue: Whether Braschi demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits that he would be included in the term “family” as used within the rent-control code.

Holding: Yes, Braschi demonstrated this likelihood. Reversed the Appellate Division decision and remitted.

Reasoning: “Family” was not defined in the rent-control code. The rent-control regulations were intended to protect against sudden eviction and “prevent exactions of unjust, unreasonable, and oppressive rents.” This intended protection should not rest on “fictitious legal distinctions or genetic history, but instead should find its foundation in the reality of family life.”

Dissent: The plurality adopted a definition of family which extends the language of the regulation. The court “has expanded the class indefinitely to include anyone who can satisfy an administrator that he or she had an emotional and financial ‘commitment’ to the statutory tenant.”

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