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The third amendment is to avoid a possible but technical de fense. The present law reads:
"If in an action against the occupant of premises for rent and for the rental value of the use or occupation thereof."
This is amended to read "If in an action for rent or for the rental value of the use or occupation of premises."
The reason for striking out "against the occupant of premises is to prevent confusion. The occupant of the premises may not be, and very frequently is not the lessee or tenant. If the present law was strictly construed the plaintiff would have no remedy upon the default of the defendant unless the tenant is also the occupant.
The fourth amendment refers to cases where tenants had been personally served with a summons and have failed to answer or deposit the old rent in court. In order to dispossess such a tenant under the present law he must be personally served with a five days' notice of the entry of judgment. Under the new amendment this five days' notice of the entry of judgment may be served by leaving it with a person of proper age at the tenant's residence. This is the method used for years in the service of citations in surrogate's court proceeding, where it has proven satisfactory.
The fifth amendment relates to the payment of rent into court and payment to the landlord: By this amendment the procedure will be as follows: If the tenant is a hold over and the landlord sues for an increased rent the tenant must pay into the court whatever rent is due at the old or former rate which the clerk will pay to the landlord on demand. Thereafter, if the trial be delayed, the tenant will pay the old or former rent to the landlord monthly on demand. The landlord when he makes the demand must tender to the tenant a receipt for the rent. Regardless of any terms, stipulation or agreements in the receipt, the payment is without prejudice to the rights of either party. In the case of a new tenant who contests the reasonableness of the rent, the tenant must deposit the amount due according to the agreement and if the landlord desires to have the deposit or any part of it paid to him he must apply to the court on five days' notice to the defendant. The court may then order such proportion of the deposit as seems just paid to the landlord and the balance is held until the case is decided. Thereafter, if the trial be delayed, the tenant will pay monthly the proportionate part fixed by the court to the landlord, on demand and tender of receipt, and pay the balance into court. When the case is decided any balance due the landlord will be paid to him in satisfaction of the judgment and the balance returned to the tenant.
This amendment removes one of the most insistent complaints against the rent laws. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent have been paid into court by tenants and held by the courts awaiting the final determination of many pending cases. Many landlords claim they need this money to pay taxes, interest on mortgages and other charges. This amendment will permit money now held to be paid over to the owners, and in future it provides that rent at the old rate, or at the rate fixed by the court, be paid to the landlord pending the result of the action. This is fair to the landlord and no hardship to the tenant, and relieves the court of a large amount of work and responsibility.
The sixth amendment relates to costs. Under the present statute costs follow automatically. A landlord demands $60.00, the tenant makes a deposit of $50.00 and the court finds $50.00 to be a reasonable rent. Then judgment is entered for $50.00 plus $13.00 costs. Under the new law, the landlord would have costs only in case he receives from the court the full amount demanded.
The seventh amendment is a new section intended to put an end to harassing suits and defenses which have been many times brought or interposed to annoy the party. It reads as follows:
“Where there has been an adjudication of the reasonable rental value of premises, such adjudication shall determine and be binding in any subsequent action between the same premises for a subsequent period, unless the plaintiff or the defendant, as the case may be, plead and prove facts which shall have occurred since the period for which the prior adjudication has been made, affecting the rental value of the premises."
Very frequently after a trial and decision the plaintiff brings actions or the defendant defends, for each successive month. If the facts are the same an adjudication for one month is readjudicated for subsequent months, so far as the rental value is concerned. The amendment puts this rule of law into statutory form and in addition thereto compels the parties not only to prove, but also to plead any additional facts which in their opinion affect the rental value so as to procure a different adjudication.
In other words, many cases have been brought by the same landlord and tenant month after month. If this section is adopted, the decision in the first case, for example, for the January rent, will be binding for February and all months thereafter, unless either the landlord or the tenant comes into court and shows a new state of facts affecting the rental value, such as extensive improvements, the installation of electric lights, steam heat, new plumbing, etc.
It is expected that this amendment will prevent the bringing of a great many unnecessary actions.
The eighth amendment provides that if an action for rent is brought in the supreme or county court it shall be in the county where the premises are situated and if in the municipal court in the district where the premises are situated.
CHAPTER 137, LAWS OF 1920 37
Section 1. Application. The provisions of this act shall apply only to a summary proceeding in a city of the first class or in a city in a county adjoining a city of the first class to recover the possession of premises occupied for dwelling purposes, other than a room or rooms in a hotel, lodging house, or rooming house, upon the ground that the occupant is holding over and continuing in possession of the premises after the expiration of his term, without permission of the landlord, and shall govern such a proceeding notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special act inconsistent herewith. The relief hereby provided shall be in addition to relief provided by any other act the provisions of
37 In effect April 1, 1920. Section 1 amended by Laws 1920, Chap. 948.
which are not inconsistent herewith. This act being emergency legislation, its provisions shall be liberally construed to carry out the intent thereof.
§ 2. Effect of petition. The presentation of a petition in such a proceeding to a court, judge or justice having by law jurisdiction thereof shall be an election by the landlord to terminate the tenancy which might otherwise arise by operation of law.
83. Discretionary stay. Where the final order in such a proceeding establishes that the occupant is holding over and continuing in possession of the demised premises, after the expiration of his term, without permission of the landlord, the court, judge or justice making such order, on application of the occupant, may, in its or his discretion and subject to the conditions prescribed by this act, stay the issuance of a warrant and also stay any execution to collect the costs of the proceeding, for such period, not more than twelve months, as the court, judge or justice, in its or his discretion, may deem proper.
§ 4. Application for and granting of stay. Upon application for stay, the court, judge or justice shall hear the parties, and if upon such hearing it appears that the premises described in the petition are used for dwelling purposes, that the applicant cannot secure suitable premises for himself and his family within the neighborhood similar to those occupied; that he has used due and reasonable effort to secure such other premises; that his application is made in good faith and that he will abide by and comply with the terms and provisions prescribed by the court, judge or justice; or that by reason of other facts such action will be warranted, the court, judge or justice may grant a stay as provided herein, on condition that the terms upon which such stay is granted be complied with.
$5. Terms and conditions of granting and continuing stay. Such stay shall be granted and continue effective only upon the condition that the person against whom the final order is made shall make a deposit in court of the entire amount, or such installments thereof from time to time, as the court, judge or justice may direct, for the occupation of the premises for the period of the stay, at the rate to which he was liable as rent for the month immediately prior to the expiration of
his term or tenancy plus such additional amount, if any, as the court, judge or justice may determine to be reasonable; such deposit shall also include all rent unpaid prior to the period of the stay. The amount of such deposit shall be determined by the court, judge or justice at the hearing upon the application for the stay, and such determination shall be final and conclusive in respect to the amount of such deposit, and the amount thereof shall be paid into court in such manner and in such installments, if any, as the court, judge or justice may direct. A separate account shall be kept of the amount to the credit of each proceeding, and all such payments shall be deposited in a bank or trust company and shall be subject to the check of the clerk of the court, if there be one, or otherwise of the court, judge or justice.
6. Payment to landlord. The clerk of the court, if there be one, and otherwise the judge or justice, shall pay to the landlord or his duly authorized agent the amount of such deposit, in accordance with the terms of the stay, or the further order of the court.
87. Waiver of act. Any provision of a lease whereby a lessee or tenant waives any provision of this act shall be deemed against public policy and void.
$ 8. Effect. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall be in force until November first, nineteen hundred and twenty-two.
"As to the constitutionality of this bill there can be no doubt. It has to do with the curtailment of a remedy which is purely statutory. The remedy of summary proceedings was placed upon the statute books about a century ago. Before that time the landlord who sought to recover possession of real property was limited to the common law action of ejectment. The legislature may abolish any statutory remedy which it has created, and by parity of reasoning it may curtail the same and place any conditions it pleases upon the exercise of such statutory remedy.
"This bill holds, in substance, that where a final order has been issued in a hold-over proceeding, the court may grant, in its dis