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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
Press Room


May 3, 1999

Carol Abrams
(212) 863-5176

Cassandra Vernon
(212) 863-8076


A Court Appointed Receiver is Included in the City's Definition of Owner

Richard T. Roberts, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), today announced the resolution of a precedent setting case brought by the Department's Housing Litigation Bureau (HLB). The Brooklyn Supreme Court determined that a Court appointed receiver is tantamount to being an owner of a building, and, as such, is legally responsible for providing essential services to the tenants as outlined in the City's Housing Maintenance Code.

The decision was made in a case brought against the receiver appointed in a foreclosure action for 1022 East 53rd Street. The Court appointed receiver, Mr. Morris Chase, was ordered to comply with a Consent Order to provide heat and hot water as required by law and to correct other conditions and violations which pose a danger to the tenants of the building. The receiver signed the Consent Order on March 11th,1999. Supreme Court Justice Michael J. Carson will retain jurisdiction over the Consent Order to ensure that Mr. Chase complies with it.

The case against Morris Chase commenced on January 19th 1999. In Court, HPD argued that the City's Housing Maintenance Code specifically includes a receiver in its definition of an owner as "a person directly or indirectly in control" and legally responsible for the building. Additionally, HPD's attorneys maintained that the Agency has the legal authority to compel a Supreme Court receiver to obey the mandates of the housing laws. Mr. Chase challenged HPD's ability to impose legal obligation upon a Supreme Court appointed receiver and challenged the Housing Court's jurisdiction. Therefore, the case was removed to Supreme Court.

During the heat season which began on October 1, 1998 and continues through May 31, 1999, owners are obliged by law to provide heat 24 hours a day to tenants whenever the outdoor temperature warrants it. If an owner fails to provide heat and hot water during "heat season" or has a history of flagrantly disregarding obligations to provide services to tenants, HLB may sue the owner in Housing Court. So far this heat season, HLB has brought 1,520 heat and hot water cases, obtained civil penalties of over $219,000 and referred 181 cases to heat training classes as an alternative to civil penalties.

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