Federal Court Dismisses Constitutional Objections to NY Court Administration of CEEFPA

LVT Number: #32294

The Apartment Owners Advisory Council (AOAC), a Westchester County property owners organization, along with the Cooperative and Condominium Advisory Council (CCAC) and some named Westchester County building owners, sued the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts of the State of NY in federal court in late 2021, claiming that tenant protections enacted by the state in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and implemented by the judge were unconstitutionally vague and violated the plaintiffs' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The Apartment Owners Advisory Council (AOAC), a Westchester County property owners organization, along with the Cooperative and Condominium Advisory Council (CCAC) and some named Westchester County building owners, sued the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts of the State of NY in federal court in late 2021, claiming that tenant protections enacted by the state in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and implemented by the judge were unconstitutionally vague and violated the plaintiffs' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Specifically, the plaintiffs challenged the CEEFPA, which permitted tenants to self-certify hardship by filing a Hardship Declaration, and S50001, a law enacted when the CEEFPA expired on Aug. 31, 2021. S50001 introduced a hearing process for landlords to challenge tenants' Hardship Declarations. The court granted the NY judge's request to dismiss the case. 

First, the court found that only one of the property owners had standing to bring the case. AOAC and CCAC didn't demonstrate "a perceptible impairment of their activities." The NY courts' actions didn't impede the organizations' abilities to carry out their responsibilities. Nor were they forced to divert resources away from their current activities. And the two organizations didn't explain how the CEEFPA or S50001 meaningfully changed their work. Assisting members with regulatory compliance, as may have been needed due to the laws in question, was among the groups' core activities. As to the individual building owners, all but one showed no injury traceable to the pandemic laws in question. One building owner, who obtained a default judgment against a tenant that was then vacated under S50001 and claimed harm as a result, could proceed with the court action. But those claims now were moot because S50001 has expired. And that building owner had by now obtained the default judgment it was seeking.

Apt. Owners Advisory Council v. Marks: 21 CV 10175, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169873, 2022 WL 4357951 (SDNY; 9/20/22; Briccetti, J)