219 West 81st Residential Holdings LLC v. Joan Davidson A/K/A Joan Winston


This is a non-primary residency holdover proceeding. The Tenant occupied a rent controlled apartment claiming it to be her primary residence. The Landlord claimed that Tenant actually primarily resided in Sarasota, Florida, at her husband's condominium and in Beckett, Massachusetts, in her husband's single family home, and merely used the New York apartment for convenience purposes when she travelled to New York for business. The Tenant also owned two separate single family homes in Beckett Massachusetts; in one, she maintained her art studio and gallery. The Tenant also was affiliated with the Beckett Arts Center since 1999 as President and/or Executive Member. The Tenant obtained a New York driver's license in 2011 (claiming at trial that she couldn't pass the New York State driver's test). She did, however, pass tests for securing driver's licenses previously in Hawaii, Florida and Massachusetts. The Tenant received from the New York City Board of Elections, Absentee Voting Ballots mailed to her in Beckett, Massachusetts. During her deposition, Tenant adamantly and repeatedly stated that she could identify her whereabouts month by month for the entire period of inquiry (2008-2011). When analyzed, her deposition testimony revealed that at best, she spent no more than 112 days per year in New York. At trial, she attempted to change or disavow that deposition testimony by claiming that she spent more than 183 days per year in the New York apartment. Real Property Tax bills and Personal Property Tax bills originating from her Massachusetts address, and not to her New York address. Several building employees testified that the Tenant and her husband were seen at the premises two or three times a year. The Court found that Tenant's trial testimony lacked credibility, and found that she did not occupy the subject premises on an ongoing basis for actual living purposes and granted the Landlord a final judgment of possession.
The trial was conducted by Gerald Shapiro, Esq.
The Order and Decision can be read in its entirety here.