ERAP Stay Obtained by Squatter Is Lifted by the Court

LVT Number: #32015

Landlord sued to evict apartment occupant after serving a 10-day notice to quit in September 2021. The occupant appeared in court and, since she had filed an ERAP application, the case was stayed. Landlord asked the court to vacate the ERAP stay and argued that the occupant didn't qualify as a "tenant" as defined by the ERAP law. Landlord pointed out that the bank that previously owned the building as a result of foreclosure had obtained a judgment of possession against occupant in June 2019. Occupant had been evicted in 2019, but after purchasing the building, landlord discovered that the apartment locks had been removed and occupant had broken into the unit and moved back in. Landlord didn't seek rent or use and occupancy from occupant.

The court ruled for landlord. A stay pending an ERAP application in a case where use and occupancy/rent was never sought and would be futile, since any approval of ERAP funds wouldn't result in the preservation or creation of a tenancy. The court found that the ERAP stay didn't apply to allow individuals, claimed to be squatters, who weren't tenants the benefit of a stay provision. The result would be absurd. 

Kelly v. Doe: Index No. LT 308750/20, 2022 NY Slip Op 22077 (Civ. Ct. Kings; 3/18/22; Cohen, J)