Danny Rand purchased the building where Colleen Wing had her apartment and dojo in Netflix’s Iron Fist. Romantic [albeit stalky], overtures aside, what are Danny’s new obligations as a landlord?
The first is that landlord warrants the property is fit for human habitation. N.Y. Real Prop. Law § 235-b. Moreover, those living in the property “shall not be subjected to any conditions which would be dangerous, hazardous or detrimental to their life, health or safety.” Id. However, damages caused by the tenant or those under the tenant’s direct control, shall not be a breach of the warranty of habitability. Id.
Danny Rand as a landlord is entitled to “reasonable compensation” for Colleen’s use of the property. N.Y. Real Prop. Law § 220. Danny also has a duty to provide a written receipt for rental payments. N.Y. Real Prop. Law § 235-e.
No super-hero show explores the intricacies of landlord-tenant duties, but Danny has unusual liability for his new building. First, Danny, Colleen, and Claire all kidnap Madam Gao from China and falsely imprison her in Colleen’s dojo. Second, there is extensive property damage to the dojo from different factions of the Hand and a DEA raid.
International kidnapping is a crime; regardless of the fact Danny was fighting an ancient terrorist organization of ninjas selling heroin. Danny had actual notice of the ceiling being breached in a raid, plus the door by the DEA.
Danny would have a duty to have the ceiling repaired under N.Y. Mult. Dwell. Law § 78:
Every multiple dwelling, including its roof or roofs, and every part thereof and the lot upon which it is situated, shall be kept in good repair. The owner shall be responsible for compliance with the provisions of this section; but the tenant also shall be liable if a violation is caused by his own wilful act, assistance or negligence or that of any member of his family or household or his guest. Any such persons who shall wilfully violate or assist in violating any provision of this section shall also jointly and severally be subject to the civil penalties provided in section three hundred four.
Danny knew rappelling members of the Hand had breached the ceiling of the dojo. This could subject the dojo to flooding, to say nothing of the roof being safe and sound. Prior case law has found that landlords have been responsible for property damage caused by water invasion from damaged roofs. Excellent Holding Corp. v. Richman, 155 Misc. 257, 258 (N.Y. Mun. Ct. 1935). There is no question that three human sized holes in the ceiling would cause water intrusion to the property [assuming Colleen’s dojo is on the top floor].
Jeri Hogarth might argue Danny’s liability is either limited by the actions of organized crime or seek damages from the government for the DEA raid. This would be highly problematic, as Danny was acting in violation of international, Federal, and New York state law, when they kidnapped Madam Gao from China. Moreover, the government had been given false evidence, which does not mean the DEA was acting in bad faith when they sought a warrant. As far as they knew, there was probable cause to arrest Danny Rand for being a drug dealer.
What is not easy to tell, is how difficult it will be in the future for Colleen Wing to get renter’s insurance in the future.