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New York Article 81 Guardianship Proceedings Can Arise in Housing Proceedings

New York Guardianship proceedings can be found to be an appropriate remedy in varied situations. Typically, the Article 81 Guardianship is associated with an elderly person suffering from an illness such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease or a person who has suffered a severe physical event such as a stroke or heart attack. These situations are a garden variety basis for the appointment of a Guardian for property management and personal needs.

New York Guardianship attorneys, however, are familiar with the many other situations in which a Guardian may be needed. For example, in many instances, younger individuals may be incapacitated due to mental or physical disabilities that are birth related. In these situations, a Guardian may be necessitated not only for personal needs but also to handle monetary awards or funds the person may be entitled to due to a settlement from a lawsuit. The Guardianship Court is often asked to allow the establishment of a Supplemental Needs Trust to hold these funds so that the incapacitated person does not lose the benefit of governmental programs such as Social Security Disability or Medicaid.

Many guardianship cases also involve issues relating to the housing of the person who is incapacitated. Such person may live in a rental apartment or even own a cooperative apartment. Due to the person’s incapacity, the rent or maintenance due on the apartment may go unpaid and subject the person to possible eviction or termination of their leasehold interest.

Other events that may result in eviction proceedings or lease terminations are where the tenant creates a nuisance by engaging in loud or abusive conduct or exhibits Collyers Syndrome which is the excessive hoarding and accumulation of items in the apartment. These activities create a climate where both the incapacitated individual and other tenants in the building are at risk.

When a person is exhibiting the above described behavior, the building management may commence eviction proceedings or, sometimes, contact Adult Protective Services of the New York City Human Resources Administration to intervene. APS will attempt to provide the tenant with assistance, if possible.

A Manhattan Guardianship lawyer, Queens Guardianship lawyer or Brooklyn Guardianship lawyer who represents a family member attempting to obtain appointment as a Guardian,
can ask the Guardianship Judge to issue a stay or injunction to stop the eviction proceedings of the incapacitated person until a Guardian has been appointed. Such relief is usually granted by the Court.

The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed in previous posts that a Guardian will be appointed by the Court if the Court determines by “clear and convincing evidence” that a person is incapacitated. New York Mental Hygiene Law (“MHL”) section 81.02. When a Court is considering the case, it will review the ability of the person to manage activities of daily living such as “money management”, “grooming”, and “housing”. MHL section 81.03 (h). Therefore, when a person fails to pay rent or creates a nuisance or dangerous condition in an apartment, such activity is evidence of incapacity.

I have represented many clients who have petitioned to be Guardians in situations where their friends or relatives are on the verge of eviction or lease termination due to failure to pay rent or creating a nuisance condition. In these cases, quick action and Court filings are often needed to obtain a stay of the eviction and prevent the loss of the incapacitated person’s apartment. Once appointed, a Guardian is usually able to pay the back rent or correct the nuisance condition so that the apartment which is the incapacitated person’s home can be retained.


New York Guardianship attorney, Jules Martin Haas, has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to Guardianship in New York, including Queens and Nassau Counties. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.

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