Court Lifts ERAP Stay of Holdover Proceeding Against Occupant

LVT Number: #31993

Landlord sued to evict apartment occupants as "licensees" after the unit's rent-stabilized tenant died. Shortly after landlord filed the holdover petition in August 2021, one of the occupants filed a Hardship Declaration. The Hardship Declaration stayed the proceeding until Jan. 15, 2022, by law. Landlord then asked the court to restore the case to the court's calendar for trial. Occupant got an attorney and advised the court that he'd filed an ERAP application that was under review.

Landlord then withdrew its motion to restore and instead filed a motion to lift the automatic stay imposed by the ERAP law. Landlord argued that the stay imposed by the ERAP law was an unconstitutional violation of landlord's due process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments of the U.S. constitution. Landlord also claimed that ERAP eligibility was irrelevant to this holdover proceedings against an occupant whose license to reside in an apartment expired upon the death of the tenant. And landlord also argued that the court had the authority to find that the occupant wasn't eligible for ERAP funding or that an ERAP stay here was futile because the occupant's license expired in any event when tenant died.

The court identified the key questions here as whether it had the authority to vacate an ERAP stay and, if so, whether it should do so in this case. The court ruled that it did have such authority and vacated the stay. There had been no showing that the occupant was a tenant or occupant obligated to pay rent. It didn't matter that landlord sought use and occupancy from the occupant while the case was pending. The ERAP law referred only to "rent" due under a written or oral rental agreement. The court lifted the ERAP stay and restored the case for a conference. The case could continue for a trial on other issues raised by the parties. The court also found it unnecessary to decide landlord's constitutional claims. 

2986 Briggs LLC v. Evans: Index No. L&T 308118/21, 2022 NY Slip Op 50215(U)(Civ. Ct. Bronx; 3/22/22; Lutwak, J)