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Court Rules Against New York Tenant

June 5, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) _ Taking in a roommate was a good deal for 70-year-old retiree Jean Mazzola: She paid $1,847.77 a month in rent and the roommate paid her $2,200.

But a Housing Court judge ruled that the arrangement could be too good to be legal under rent stabilization rules. Now Mazzola’s landlord might evict them both under a new state regulation.

Mazzola has lived for 32 years in a spacious, two-bedroom apartment on ritzy Park Avenue. Brian Moro joined her as a roommate in March.

About 2.3 million New York City residents live under rent protection, which stabilizes housing costs.

The rule upheld by Housing Court Judge Larry S. Schachner on May 30 prevents rent-stabilized tenants from charging roommates more than their fair share, generally interpreted as half the rent.

Mazzola’s lawyer, Darnay Hoffman, is appealing the decision.

Mazzola, who suffers from emphysema and heart ailments, said she needs a roommate to pay her bills and contends that the law does not provide for evictions. But the judge ruled that the owner can cite the regulation during an upcoming trial in the eviction lawsuit.

The roommate rule is part of a disputed rewriting of rent regulations by the state. Tenant representatives are challenging the revisions in court, arguing that the state overstepped its authority in making the changes. The state defends its actions.

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