Couple demands N.Y. property recognize lesbian marriage in lease

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A New York City property owner and management company face legal action after refusing to add a female tenant’s wife to a rent-stabilized lease.

Lambda Legal, a national LGBT group, is representing the women in the situation.

Lambda sent a demand letter to DSA Management and Nicholas Place on behalf of Regina Hawkins-Balducci and her wife. The two women married in January.

“Today we are putting DSA and other New York State apartment management companies, landlords and building owners on notice: New York same-sex spouses must be treated equally under the laws of New York,” said Lambda attorney Natalie Chin. “The New York rent-stabilization laws are clear: Tenants have a right to ensure housing security for a spouse by having their spouse’s name added to a rent-stabilized or rent-controlled lease. DSA Management and Nicholas Place LLC responded with insults, harassment and an outright refusal to recognize Regina’s marriage to her spouse. This conduct is both outrageous and in violation of New York State and City laws.”

Chin said that Hawkins-Balducci provided a copy of her marriage certificate to DSA Management requesting to add her wife to the lease. But DSA Management and Nicholas Place LLC representative berated the couple, refused to recognize the marriage and said Hawkins-Balducci’s spouse would never be added to the lease. 

“I’ve lived in my apartment for nearly 15 years, and built a home with my wife for the last seven. If something were to happen to me, my wife could be evicted,” Hawkins-Balducci said.

She added, “My landlord is standing in the way of protecting my family – something New York law says I can do.”

Lambda’s letter demands that the building owner and DSA Management – which oversees more than 5,000 residential units and 50 commercial properties – comply with the New York Marriage Equality Act, New York Rent Stabilization Code and several provisions of New York state and city human rights laws.

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