CEEFPA as Amended Expands Definition of Protected Tenants
LVT Number: #31687
Landlord sued to evict tenant, and in August 2019, the parties settled the case, with a judgment and warrant for landlord. Tenant agreed to move out by a certain date but sought and obtained several extensions of the move-out date from the court. Tenant's last order to show cause for an extension overlapped with the pause of most court functions in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Landlord later sought enforcement of the judgment and warrant, but tenant filed a hardship declaration. Landlord then claimed that tenant didn't qualify for protection under CEEFPA since tenant was at this point in the proceedings an "unauthorized occupant." Tenant argued that CEEFPA, as amended by L. 2021, Ch. 417 on Sept. 2, 2021, did provide him protection while the eviction moratorium remained in place.
The court ruled for tenant. The current CEEFPA provision defines a "tenant" to include a "residential tenant, lawful occupant of a dwelling unit, or any other person responsible for paying rent, use and occupancy, or any other financial obligation under a residential lease or tenancy agreement." The court noted that "the legislative intent of the law has been to be as expansive as possible." The settlement stipulation provided that, "on condition surrender is made by 10/15/2019 all arrears and use + occupancy through October 15, 2019 shall be waived." The November 2019 court order that so-ordered the settlement also stated that use and occupancy be paid. Therefore, since there was a responsibility to pay use and occupancy, even if unpaid by tenant, tenant fell within the scope of "other person responsible for paying use and occupancy." The amended CEEFPA statute also replaced the word "tenant" with "respondent" when discussing when describing when a hardship declaration was effective, and the passage of time didn't remove tenant from this protection. The court also stated that, in 2019, HSTPA had walked back a trend to cut off the landlord-tenant relationship with the issuance of a warrant, since the legislature sought to maintain these relationships under the execution of the warrant.
Ocean Bay Rad LLC v. Tolliver: Index No. L&T 57536/19, 2021 NY Slip Op 21287 (Civ. Ct. Queens; 10/19/21; Jiminez, J)
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