309 N.Y. 94 (1955)

City of New York, Respondent, v. Gerald D. Nelson et al., as Successor Trustees under The Will of William Nelson, Deceased, et al., Appellants.

Court of Appeals of the State of New York.

Decided July 8, 1955

Attorney(s) appearing for the Case

William P. Jones and Watson Washburn for appellants.

Peter Campbell Brown, Corporation Counsel (Meyer Scheps, Harry E. O'Donnell, Benjamin Offner and Joseph Brandwen of counsel), for respondent.

CONWAY, Ch. J., DESMOND, DYE, FULD, FROESSEL and VAN VOORHIS, JJ., concur; BURKE, J., taking no part.

Per Curiam.

The order appealed from should be affirmed, without costs.

This is indeed a hard case. Defendants acquired title to the Powell Street property in 1934 and to the 45th Avenue property in 1938, and paid the real estate taxes due thereon. For the nonpayment of water charges, the city acquired title to these properties in an in rem tax foreclosure sale under title D of chapter 17 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York, as follows:

  Property            Water Arrears       Assessed Value

  45th Avenue                            Assessed by the City at
  4-story brick and stone                $6,000 and resold by it
  rooming house               $72.50     for $7,000, retaining the
                                         entire proceeds.

  Powell Street                          Assessed by the City at
  4-story apartment house                $46,000; with a gross
  with 28 apartments         $814.50     annual rent income of

Thus, for total arrears of $887, the city acquired properties assessed at $52,000, one of which parcels was resold in excess of its assessed valuation.

The nonpayment of the water charges was due to the default of a trusted bookkeeper, and was discovered when he attempted suicide. The city continued to bill the estate of which plaintiffs are trustees for the real estate taxes on the 45th Avenue property for two years after it had acquired title.

Unfortunately, the power to afford relief here is not confided to the courts. The result suggests the need of legislation liberalizing the right of redemption, or giving to city officials the power to ameliorate such extreme hardships in appropriate cases.

Order affirmed.


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