Daughter Denied Succession Rights to Resident's Unit
Facts: A woman sought to reverse a determination by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) denying her request for succession rights to her deceased mother's unit. The woman grew up in the building, moved out in 1998, and hasn't been listed as an occupant or tenant of the unit since that time. In August 2009, she returned to the unit along with her two young children to care for her mother whose health was declining rapidly. After her mother's death, she tried to obtain a lease to the unit in her name as a “remaining family member.”
NYCHA recognizes certain individuals as remaining family members with succession rights. To obtain remaining family member status and become eligible for a lease to that unit, the daughter needed to obtain the written approval from the site manager to reside in the unit with the tenant of record, and had to reside in that unit for at least one year before the tenant's death or departure.
The manager denied the daughter's request for a lease in her name on the grounds that her mother's most recent “Occupant's Affidavit of Income” form, dated December 2009, doesn't list her as an occupant and because her mother didn't request, nor was granted, permission for the daughter to rejoin the household. The daughter appealed to NYCHA, which agreed with the manager's decision. The daughter then appealed NYCHA's decision in court.
Ruling: A New York trial court ruled in favor of the housing authority.
Reasoning: The daughter admitted that she didn't obtain NYCHA's permission to join her mother's household and that she didn't live in the unit for one year prior to her mother's death. The judge noted that the rules contained in NYCHA's Management Manual are clear that persons in this category don't automatically obtain permission for permanent occupancy by virtue of their former occupancy, notwithstanding NYCHA's notice of the persons' return to the unit.
Also, due to the well-documented lack of sufficient low-income housing in New York City and the many qualified families on waiting lists for these accommodations, the court ruled that fairness dictates that the regulations mandated by HUD be strictly applied by NYCHA in its tenant selection process.
- Firpi v. New York City Housing Authority, November 2011