Lambda Legal Sues NY Landlord to Add Same-Sex Spouse to Lease

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October 2, 2013
Lambda Legal clients Dorothy Calvani and Dava Weinstein

Lambda Legal filed a complaint today against a New York City landlord for refusing to add lesbian tenant Dava Weinstein’s spouse, Dorothy Calvani, to her rent-stabilized lease as is required by state and city law.

Just last year, Lambda Legal represented a Harlem couple whose landlord refused to add a tenant’s same-sex spouse to the lease. 

Susan Sommer, Lambda Legal's Director of Constitutional Litigation, said:

Dorothy and Dava have been each other’s family for nearly four decades and are legally married. The New York rent-stabilization laws clearly guarantee their right to ensure housing security by having a spouse’s name added to a rent-stabilized or rent-controlled lease. The landlord’s outright refusal to recognize Dava’s marriage to Dorothy is outrageous and violates New York State and City laws.

How many New York same-sex couples will have to take their landlords to court before landlords stop illegally refusing to add same-sex spouses to rent-stabilized or rent-controlled leases?

After marrying her partner of 37 years in Iowa in 2011, Dava Weinstein, 68, a licensed clinical social worker, provided a copy of her marriage certificate to Weinreb Management requesting to have her spouse, Dorothy Calvani, 63, a geriatric nurse practitioner for an agency in East Harlem, added to the lease. In response to her request, Weinreb Management incorrectly told the couple that New York State does not recognize their marriage. Even after they sent their landlord proof of their rights, Weinreb Management still refused to add Dorothy as a co-tenant to the lease of the Upper West Side apartment they have shared since 1977.

Weinstein said:

I’ve lived in this apartment for nearly 40 years, and built a home here with my spouse for the last 36 years. If something were to happen to me, Dorothy should not have to worry about whether the landlord will try to evict her because she’s not on the lease. That is one of the protections married people are supposed to have. Our landlord is standing in the way of us taking steps to protect our family, something that is of particular importance to us as we get older.

Read the press release.