June 14, 2012
SYCAMORE RIDGE APARTMENTS, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Camden County, Docket No. LT-010775-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued May 30, 2012
Before Judges Baxter, Nugent and Carchman.
Defendant L.M.G.*fn1 appeals from a Law Division order evicting her from her apartment, which is owned and managed by her landlord, plaintiff Sycamore Ridge Apartments (Sycamore). We agree with the judge's finding that the persistent urine odor emanating from defendant's apartment, caused by defendant's daughter's incontinence, constituted a lease violation that entitled plaintiff to a judgment for possession. We further conclude that under the circumstances presented Sycamore had no duty to accommodate the daughter's disability. We affirm the judgment, but stay our mandate for a thirty-day period to enable defendant to secure alternate housing for herself and her daughter.
In 1998, defendant L.M.G., who is currently eighty-two years old, and her daughter J.F., who is fifty-three, moved into Sycamore, which is located in Pennsauken. Sycamore is a 304-unit, federally subsidized housing project that participates in the Section 8 voucher program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Defendant and J.F. are both signatories on the lease. J.F. suffers from diabetes, and in October 2010, was diagnosed with diabetes-related urinary incontinence, which was exacerbated by a non-healing foot that impairs her mobility.
On August 14, 2010, after more than six years of receiving complaints from other tenants, Sycamore served a notice to cease and desist upon defendant due to an "extremely offensive, intolerable urine odor emanating from [her] unit." On September 2, 2010, the Camden County Department of Health (Department) conducted an inspection of the premises, and determined the conditions were "unsatisfactory" due to "foul odors emanating from [defendant's] ap[artmen]t." On September 8, 2010, the Department issued a notice to remove or abate the nuisance, advising defendant to "promptly" correct the violations "to avoid the possibility of legal action."
Shortly thereafter, Sycamore served defendant with a notice to quit the premises, demanding that she vacate the unit on or before November 30, 2010. Defendant and J.F. did not do so.
On December 6, 2010, Sycamore filed a summary dispossess complaint in the Law Division, Special Civil Part, seeking a judgment for possession based upon the "urine odor" emanating from defendant's unit. In a letter dated January 10, 2011, defendant requested a "reasonable accommodation," pursuant to the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA), 42 U.S.C.A. § 3601 to 3619, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (RA), 29 U.S.C.A. § 701 to 796, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -49. In the letter, defendant stated that her daughter "suffers from . . . physical disabilities which . . . in the past . . . [had] adversely affected her activities of daily living, and contributed to certain hygiene issues." Defendant maintained that her daughter was now "receiving treatment," and requested an accommodation in the form of "rescission of the Notice terminating the Tenancy, and time to allow the medical assistance [J.F.] is receiving to complete its course."
After Sycamore filed the eviction action, the Department conducted a second inspection, which revealed "[a] urine odor in [defendant's] living room and at [the] rear common hallway." On March 11, 2010, the Department issued an additional notice to remove or abate the nuisance, advising defendant that the violation "should be corrected promptly . . . to avoid . . . legal action."
On April 21, 2011, Judge Laskin conducted a hearing on plaintiff's summary dispossess complaint. The judge heard testimony from Crystal Watson and Linda Amoroso, who testified on Sycamore's behalf; and defendant's son, D.G., who testified for defendant.
Crystal Watson, who resides in the unit directly above defendant, testified that as soon as she moved in, she noticed "a strong urine smell" coming from defendant's apartment. The odor was so bad that she called the Board of Health to complain, and attempted to conceal the odor with "a lot of air fresheners." Watson stated that the smell is present "[e]veryday all day," and that, although she wants to continue to live in her unit, the odor is "[an] issue" that "affect[s] [its] livability."
Linda Amoroso, the property manager at Sycamore, testified that she had been receiving complaints from other tenants "concerning urine odors" emanating from defendant's unit ever since January 2006, when Amoroso began working at Sycamore. She testified that, "[h]aving worked with seniors before . . . [who have] had similar issues, [she first] tried to resolve [the issue] without taking legal action," because defendant is otherwise "a good tenant." "[T]o get [defendant] help" Amoroso: reached out to family members, including defendant's two sons and her daughter-in-law; contacted the Camden County Board Social Services (Social Services); and called Adult Protective Services, which Amoroso stated will "come out and take aggressive measures to help the tenant." Social Services informed Amoroso that defendant "refused help from them."
When asked what she had done to accommodate defendant, Amoroso stated that she tried "anything [she] could think of." She stated, "I contacted every family member I had a phone number for . . . I met with her son . . . [and painted] certain rooms [the Board of Health] wrote up." She stated, "I've tried everything that I'm aware of, every service, to get her help so this would resolve the problem."
Amoroso testified that even after August 14, 2010, when she served the notice to cease upon defendant, she had "received continuing complaints . . . almost daily . . . from neighboring tenants . . . [and] other entities and persons," including: the mailman; contractors and painters; visitors of other tenants; Sycamore staff members; the police department; and the Board of Health. Amoroso stated that, after the Department deemed the conditions unsatisfactory, she found "a contractor [who] was willing to go in and just paint that room and get out." Several other contractors had refused to paint defendant's apartment because the "overwhelming" urine odor made them "nauseous."
During the hearing, defendant argued that after the summary dispossess complaint was filed, she made additional efforts to clean her unit, by replacing "the carpeting" and the "mattresses and the box spring," and hiring a company to "come out and do a deep cleaning in her unit." She requested time to obtain "an independent third party . . . inspect[ion] of the unit, [to] see whether or not the conditions have been ameliorated." The judge adjourned the hearing to enable defendant to arrange a follow-up inspection by the health department.
Defendant's son, D.G., testified that after Sycamore notified him of the problem, he "started cleaning" and "throwing out stuff" in defendant's unit, including a mattress, bed, rug, couch and "everything that was in the [apartment]." He maintained that the odor must be coming from somewhere else because defendant's unit is now clean.
On May 2, 2011, as the judge had requested, the Department performed a third, and final inspection, and issued a report stating: "[u]rine odor present in apartment. No urine odor in common areas or outside apartments." On May 4, 2011, the Department issued a final notice, advising defendant that "[her] failure to remove or abate the nuisance now leads [the Department] to take the necessary legal action."
During a pretrial conference on May 5, 2011, defendant produced the final notice issued by the Department, which indicated the odor was no longer emanating into the common area, but still existed in defendant's unit. Defendant repeated her request for an accommodation, asserting that, as a federally subsidized housing provider of last resort, Sycamore is required to provide an accommodation "unless they can demonstrate an exception . . . [and] [t]he only exception is if there's a direct threat to safety, and . . . [there hasn't been] any testimony about a direct threat."
Sycamore maintained that the problem was ongoing, causing Sycamore to "los[e] tenants." The judge continued the hearing to allow the parties to continue their efforts to amicably resolve the matter. The parties failed to reach a resolution, and the eviction proceedings resumed on June 9, 2011. In addition to the testimony that had been presented on April 21, 2011, plaintiff presented as witnesses Peter Johnson and Ruth Alicea, and recalled Amoroso. Alicea testified that, during the ten years she has been employed as Sycamore's staff manager, she "received many complaints" regarding the "odor of urine" coming from defendant's apartment.
Johnson, the maintenance supervisor at Sycamore, testified that he conducted inspections of defendant's apartment on three occasions, in January, March and May 2010, and the strong odor of urine was present all three times. He "observed a[n] [incontinence] pad on one of the sofas and the smell of urine was so intense that it hurt [his] eyes." Johnson testified that, although he installed a fan in the common area hallway, the hallway "still smells." While driving home from work, he "was still smelling the urine off [his] jeans." As recently as "yesterday," he was standing outside defendant's kitchen window and could "smell urine coming out . . . the . . . window."
Amoroso testified that the problem had not ceased since the April 21 hearing, and that she had "worked up the costs" to remedy the damage. "[T]o deal with getting rid of the odor, completely," Amoroso stated that the following measures would be necessary: repainting defendant's unit with extra coats of paint; repainting the front and rear common hallways; replacing the carpeting in the common halls; replacing the kitchen floor in defendant's unit, including replacement of the floorboard; and full sanitizing of defendant's entire unit. Amoroso testified that such extensive cleaning and repairs would cost Sycamore $4270, and that it would take "a minimum of seven working days" to complete the work.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Laskin stated that defendant was seeking a determination that an accommodation was required based upon J.F.'s disability, but had not proffered any evidence regarding J.F.'s medical condition. The judge continued the proceedings to afford defendant an opportunity to obtain medical testimony.
On June 30, 2011, defendant presented the testimony of Dr. Ramon Acosta, J.F.'s treating physician. He testified that J.F. suffers from "chronic diabetes," "a chronic non-healing diabetic ulcer on her left foot," "foot deformities," "mental disab[ilities]," and "chronic urinary incontinence." Asked if J.F.'s incontinence was caused by her diabetes, Dr. Acosta answered in the affirmative. He noted that although J.F. was taking several medications that "help control the incontinence," she had a history of noncompliance with her medications because she is "mentally challenged[.]"
Dr. Acosta opined that "it [would] be better if . . . [J.F.] lived outside of an apartment complex in an assisted living facility." Asked if he believed J.F. was capable of living independently, the doctor responded: "No, I do not."
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Laskin issued a judgment for possession, evicting defendant from her unit, but granted defendant's request for a stay pending appeal. The judge made the following findings:
I've listened carefully to the argument . . . [and] I've listened to the doctor . . . who made it clear to me that [J.F.] does have . . . urinary incontinence . . . [and] if she uses the medication, it probably . . . will not get a lot worse except . . . this patient, in addition to the urinary incontinence, has diabetes, which the doctor said quite clearly exacerbates the condition[.] . . .
He also says she needs assistance. . . . When I hear a doctor telling me she needs assistance and then state very clearly that an assisted living facility would be ideal for her, that doesn't mean that her grandmother or her sister . . . can give her the kind of assistance the medical professional is talking about. This requires professional assistance. . . . She needs to go to an assisted living facility. What amazes me is why people on her side don't understand that. If they're so concerned about helping this poor lady, you would think they would do everything possible to get her transferred or placed into a facility where she's going to get help[.] . . . Now I'll say it again, Dr. Acosta very clearly stated [in his] testimony that an assisted living facility is the place for this woman. He stated [she is] not able to live independently. As far as I'm concerned she's not able to live under the circumstances where she's now living. . . .
She doesn't belong in this [housing] facility. She's got to get out. There will be a judgment for possession.
On appeal, defendant raises the following claims:
I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ENTERING A JUDGMENT BASED ON A GROUND NOT CONTAINED IN THE STATUTE.
II. WHERE VIOLATION HAD BEEN CURED,
JUDGMENT OF POSSESSION WAS NOT JUSTIFIED.
III. REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION.
IV. NECESSITY OF AN INTERACTIVE PROCESS.
V. APPELLANT DOES NOT FIT WITHIN "DIRECT THREAT" EXCEPTION.
Appellate review of the factual findings made by a trial judge in a non-jury trial is quite limited. Estate of Ostlund v. Ostlund, 391 N.J. Super. 390, 400 (App. Div. 2007). An appellate court will "not weigh the evidence, assess the credibility of witnesses, or make conclusions about the evidence." Mountain Hill, L.L.C. v. Twp. of Middletown, 399 N.J. Super. 486, 498 (App. Div. 2008) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted), certif. denied, 199 N.J. 129 (2009). A trial judge's factual findings should not be disturbed unless they are "so wholly insupportable as to result in a denial of justice." Rova Farms Resort, Inc. v. Investors Ins. Co., 65 N.J. 474, 483-84 (1974) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). However, "[a] trial court's interpretation of the law and the legal consequences that flow from established facts are not entitled to any special deference." Manalapan Realty, L.P. v. Twp. Comm. of Manalapan, 140 N.J. 366, 378 (1995).
In Points I and II, defendant argues that the judge improperly entered a judgment for possession based upon a ground not enumerated in New Jersey's Anti-Eviction Act (Act), N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1 to -61.21; and, because any lease violation had been cured, eviction was unjustifiable. Defendant maintains that Judge Laskin entered the judgment "based upon [his] belief that [J.F.] could no longer live in the unit and that she should go to an assisted living facility." Defendant asserts that the "best interest of a tenant" and "existence of an alternative form of housing" are not grounds for removal and that, because judgment was entered for these reasons, the notice and procedural requirements of the Act were violated, requiring reversal.
Sycamore argues that the judge properly entered judgment based upon a lease violation, and that the violation was not cured at the time judgment was entered.
The Act mandates that no tenant may be removed from premises leased for residential purposes unless "good cause" is established. N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1. A residential tenant may be removed if "[t]he [tenant] has continued, after written notice to cease, to substantially violate or breach any of the landlord's rules and regulations governing said premises, provided such rules and regulations are reasonable and have been accepted in writing by the tenant or made a part of the lease at the beginning of the lease term." N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(d). The plaintiff-landlord has the burden of "prov[ing] all elements of the statutory ground alleged." 279 4th Ave. Mgmt., L.L.C. v. Mollett, 386 N.J. Super. 31, 37 n.3 (App. Div.) (emphasis in original), certif. denied, 188 N.J. 354 (2006).
Where eviction is sought based upon a lease violation that can be "retroactively cured" by the tenant after summary dispossess proceedings have been instituted, the trial judge may determine that the late cure is adequate, and precludes eviction. Housing & Redev. Auth. of Twp. of Franklin v. Mayo, 390 N.J. Super. 425, 433-34 (App. Div. 2007). However, some lease violations are so serious that repetition of conduct is not required, and the violation can never be completely "cured," making eviction the only appropriate remedy. Id. at 433.
Here, the lease gave Sycamore the right to terminate defendant's tenancy upon "material noncompliance with the terms of the [lease]." In relevant part, the lease defines "material noncompliance" to include: repeated minor violations of the lease that (a) disrupt the livability of the project; (b) adversely affect the health or safety of any person or the right of any tenant to the quiet enjoyment to the leased premises and related project facilities, (c) interfere with the management of the project, or (d) have adverse financial effect on the project[.]
Further, in signing the lease, defendant and J.F. expressly promised to "keep the unit clean," and "not [to] destroy, deface, [or] damage . . . any part of the unit, common areas, or project grounds," and to "remove garbage and other waste from the unit in a clean and safe manner."
We conclude that the judge properly entered judgment based upon a lease violation that had not been cured at the time judgment was entered. In rendering his decision, it is clear that the judge accepted Dr. Acosta's opinion that J.F.'s incontinence was so severe and intractable that she should reside in an assisted living facility. We discern from those remarks a finding that Sycamore met its burden of proving defendant's prior and ongoing lease violations, a finding that is amply supported by the record.
Regardless of the cause of the odor, and regardless of whether it was produced by a disability, it is clear the noxious urine smell resulted in repeated and ongoing violations of the lease provisions over a period of more than six years, when Amoroso began receiving complaints from other tenants. The evidence proffered by Sycamore -- which included the testimony of Sycamore staff members and another tenant in the building, as well as Department of Health inspection reports -- overwhelmingly established that an intolerable and ongoing urine odor existed in defendant's unit, and permeated the common area, violating defendant's obligation to keep her unit clean, and not interfere with the "livability" of the complex, as well as the right of other tenants to quietly enjoy the premises. Defendant's own son confirmed that the apartment had an odor of urine. Additionally, Johnson's testimony established that the odor outside defendant's apartment persisted, and was evident as recently as the day before he testified at trial.
Indeed, defendant did not dispute that a urine odor had existed inside her apartment. She insisted, however, that the odor was now under control, and would not result in further urine damage or offensive odors. The evidence presented by Sycamore established otherwise, as Crystal Watson, who resided in the unit directly above defendant, and Sycamore's staff members and maintenance supervisor, testified that the urine smell had not ceased. Further, even assuming that the urine odor was no longer emanating into the common area as the final health inspection report indicated, defendant was still in violation of the lease, which required her to keep her unit clean and not interfere with the "liveability" of the complex.
For this reason, and because Sycamore presented overwhelming and unrefuted evidence establishing the presence of a noxious odor capable of producing "nausea," which was "so intense that it hurt [people's] eyes," the judge properly entered a judgment for possession based upon a lease violation. Despite the testimony of defendant's son, who stated that the urine odor no longer existed, the weight of the evidence indicated otherwise. The fact that the judge referred to the testimony of Dr. Acosta, who stated that J.F. should be in an assisted living facility to receive proper care, is of no consequence, as the judgment for possession was not entered for that reason. Because defendant committed repeated and ongoing lease violations, which had not been cured at the time judgment was entered, the judgment for possession was properly issued, based upon a ground enumerated in the Anti-Eviction Act, specifically, N.J.S.A. 2A:18-16.1(d). We reject the claim defendant advances in Points I and II.
In Points III, IV and V, defendant argues that: (1) J.F. "was and is a person with a disability" as defined by the FHAA*fn2 and the LAD; (2) after defendant made a request for a reasonable accommodation, Sycamore breached its duty to discuss "whether . . any type of accommodation was feasible," and to "engage in dialogue" and an "interactive process"; (3) Sycamore's failure to engage in a dialogue or offer an accommodation constitutes discrimination under the FHAA and the LAD; and (4) defendant and her daughter did not constitute a "direct threat" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C.A. § 3604(f)(9).*fn3
Sycamore does not dispute that Fisher is "disabled" within the meaning of the FHAA, 42 U.S.C.A. § 3604(f)(1), and the LAD, N.J.S.A. 10:5-12(g), due to her "chronic diabetes and . . . mentally challenged" condition. Sycamore asserts, however, that: (1) defendant's request for an accommodation was unreasonable because it would impose an undue financial burden; (2) the requested accommodation lacks the proper nexus to J.F.'s disability; (3) an "interactive process" was not required under the FHAA because defendant's initial request for an accommodation was not "unclear," and because an interactive process is not required under the LAD; and (4) defendant's continued tenancy fits within the "direct threat" exception to the FHAA, so that Sycamore was exempt from providing an accommodation on these facts.
"The FHAA is remedial legislation" that prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing. Oras v. Hous. Auth. of Bayonne, 373 N.J. Super. 302, 311 (App. Div. 2004). The FHAA states:
[I]t shall be unlawful . . . [t]o discriminate in the sale or rental, or to otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any buyer or renter because of a handicap of . . . that buyer or renter, . . [or] [t]o discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, . . . because of a handicap[.]
[42 U.S.C.A. § 3604.]
"As defined in the FHAA, discriminatory housing practices in connection with the rental of a dwelling include 'a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford [a disabled] person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling[.]'" Oras, supra, 373 N.J. Super. at 311 (quoting 42 U.S.C.A. § 3604(f)(3)(B)). "A reasonable accommodation 'means changing some rule that is generally applicable to everyone so as to make its burden less onerous on the handicapped individual.'" Id. at 317 (quoting Oxford House, Inc. v. Twp. of Cherry Hill, 799 F. Supp. 450, 462 n.25 (D.N.J. 1992)) (concluding that relaxing a policy that prohibited tenants from owning dogs weighing more than twenty pounds would constitute a reasonable accommodation if the plaintiff-tenant's forty-seven pound dog accommodated or alleviated his paraplegia).
"[T]he LAD is . . . New Jersey's remedy for unacceptable discrimination and [it] is to be construed liberally." Franek v. Tomahawk Lake Resort, 333 N.J. Super. 206, 217 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 166 N.J. 606 (2000). "Among its other objectives, the LAD is intended to insure that handicapped persons will have 'full and equal access to society, limited only by physical limitations they cannot overcome.'" Ibid. (citation omitted).
"It is unlawful for any person to . . . [r]efuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services, . . . when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling." N.J.A.C. 13:13-3.4(f)(2).
A disabled tenant alleging a wrongful denial of a requested accommodation "bears the initial burden of showing that the requested accommodation is or was necessary to afford him or her an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling." Oras, supra, 373 N.J. Super. at 312. If the disabled tenant meets this burden, "the burden of proof shifts to the landlord to show that the requested accommodation is or was unreasonable." Ibid.
However, "a [landlord's] duty to provide a reasonable accommodation for a resident with a disability does not necessarily entail the obligation to do everything possible to accommodate such a person." Estate of Nicolas v. Ocean Plaza Condo. Ass'n, Inc., 388 N.J. Super. 571, 588 (App. Div. 2006). Cost to the landlord and benefit to the disabled tenant must be considered in determining what is reasonable. Oras, supra, 373 N.J. Super. at 315. "The accommodation must facilitate the disabled tenant's ability to function, and it must survive a cost-benefit balancing that takes both parties' needs into account." Ibid. (citation omitted). The degree to which the accommodation aids the tenant in coping with his or her disability is an essential factor. See ibid.
Additionally, the FHAA limits the extent to which a landlord must accommodate a disabled tenant, as a landlord is not required to make a dwelling available to an individual whose tenancy "would result in substantial physical damage to the property of others." 42 U.S.C.A. § 3604(f)(9). An accommodation is not "reasonable" and will not be required, if it would "impose undue financial and administrative burdens" on the landlord or if the requested accommodation would fundamentally alter the nature of the landlord's operation. Oxford House, supra, 799 F. Supp. at 461.
On the facts presented here, Sycamore was not required to accommodate defendant for three reasons: (1) the accommodation defendant requested, namely, the rescission of the eviction notice, was unreasonable as the continuing urine odor affected the rights of other tenants; (2) to the extent defendant sought cleaning and other similar services from plaintiff the requested accommodation was unreasonable as it would impose an undue financial burden and require Sycamore to fundamentally alter the nature of its operation; and (3) while not required to do so, Sycamore made substantial efforts to assist defendant, fulfilling any obligation that it may have had.
First, as for defendant's request for accommodation in the form of rescinding the notice terminating the tenancy, thereby allowing defendant and J.F. to remain in the unit long enough to remedy the problem, we conclude the problem was ongoing for more than six years at the time judgment was entered. On the facts presented, there is no indication that more time would have accommodated or addressed J.F.'s disability in any way.
During appellate oral argument, defendant's attorney asserted that J.F. has recently begun to use protective undergarments that would remediate the problem. However, no evidence of this was presented at trial, and Dr. Acosta's testimony established that J.F. has been prescribed protective undergarments in the past, and that she has a history of non-compliance with her treatment. As there is no evidence that an increased use of protective undergarments would remedy the problem, defendant's unsupported assertions have no impact on our decision.
Second, defendant requested that Sycamore provide an accommodation by relocating her and J.F. for an entire week, while Sycamore assumed extensive cleaning and repairs, which the property manager testified would cost more than $4200 and require a minimum of seven working days to complete. Requiring Sycamore to undertake such efforts, with no assurance the damage would stop, clearly would impose an undue financial and administrative burden that Sycamore was not obligated to assume on behalf of any individual tenant.
Moreover, the accommodation defendant requested would require a fundamental alteration of Sycamore's operation. While defendant has argued that she is merely requesting that Sycamore continue to provide her with housing, she minimizes the impact of her request. Here, defendant has asked Sycamore to function as much more than a landlord, and to assume the duties of a private nursing facility equipped to deal with J.F.'s overwhelming medical needs. Because Sycamore is not in the business of providing medical or nursing care, or private cleaning and remodeling services, defendant's accommodation request would unfairly force Sycamore to assume duties well beyond the fundamental operations of a landlord.
We conclude the accommodation sought was unreasonable, as cleaning the apartment would impose an undue financial burden or fundamentally alter the nature of Sycamore's operation. Ibid. Although the judge did not explicitly make this finding, he recognized the unreasonableness of the requested accommodation, as is evident in the following colloquy:
[Defendant's attorney]: [J.F.'s] incontinence is an ongoing problem but she is having treatment for that. . . . We're simply asking for [Sycamore] to accommodate her . . . . because of the disabilities . . . which the doctor has testified to.
[The court]: . . . How do you accommodate? Could you give me some answer to that with a party who is mentally deficient, needs assistance. These are the exact words of the doctor. . . . How would you tell me that a regular apartment complex can reasonably accommodate her?
[Defendant's attorney]: Well our request would be that they . . . rescind the notice terminating and allow her to get the treatment[.] . . . [The court]: Okay. So your position is [the] reasonable accommodation is to let her stay there? [Defendant's attorney]: Yes, Your Honor.
Finally, while Sycamore was under no obligation to do so, we note that Amoroso undertook extensive efforts to obtain assistance for defendant, going above and beyond the duties of a typical landlord. Amoroso reached out to defendant's family members, including her two sons; contacted Camden County Social Services; and contacted Adult Protective Services, which informed her that defendant had "refused help from them." Following unsatisfactory health inspection reports, Sycamore contacted several painters, who refused to paint the apartment due to the foul odors. Ultimately, Sycamore found a painter, who repainted the rooms identified by the health inspector, and also had its maintenance supervisor install a fan in the common hallway in order to diffuse the urine odor. On these facts, the landlord was not required to do more. The efforts taken more than satisfied any duty that Sycamore had to provide an accommodation to defendant.
Because the eviction has been stayed pending appeal, and because our decision will terminate the stay, we extend the stay for thirty days to provide defendant and J.F. with time to obtain new housing following this decision. See N.J.S.A. 2A:42-10.6 (stating that, if it appears the tenant will "suffer hardship because of the unavailability of other dwelling accommodations, the judge may stay the issuance of the warrant or writ [of possession] . . . as he [or she] shall deem proper under the circumstances").