Licensee not eligible for stay of eviction for COVID-19 hardship

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2021 | COVID-19 Concerns, Eviction, Landlord/Tenant

Attorney Adam P. Cooper of Borah, Goldstein, Altschuler, Nahins & Goidel, P.C., attained a judgment in favor of our client holding that occupants of residential premises our client owns were ineligible for a stay of a holdover proceeding based on alleged hardship under the New York COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (CEEFPA or in the decision, EEFPA).

Holdover proceedings stayed 

Our client filed holdover proceedings against two occupants who had stayed without our client’s permission after the tenants of record had vacated. The occupants paid neither rent nor for use and occupancy. They asked for a stay of the holdover proceedings based on a COVID-19 hardship declaration they filed under CEEFPA, which the judge granted.

Occupiers were not tenants under CEEFPA

We returned to court asking the judge to reinstate the holdover proceeding on the court calendar because the occupiers did not meet the CEEFPA definition of “tenant” so were ineligible for a stay. The court agreed, reasoning that only tenants defined by CEEFPA were eligible for stays of proceedings and that the occupants were not tenants because they were not “lawful occupants” (the only category of tenants under which they might qualify). At most, they were licensees who did not have a possessory interest in the premises and therefore were not eligible for a stay based on pandemic hardship.

(The case is Kalikow Family Partnership, L.P., v. Doe, L & T 300351/20, Civil Court, City of New York, Queens County, Aug. 6, 2021, 2021 WL 3484458.)

Status of CEEFPA and related issues

Since the decision, CEEFPA expired on Aug. 31, 2021, but a bill that would extend its provisions until Oct. 31, 2021, is in committee in both the New York State Senate and State Assembly as of this writing on Sept. 7, 2021.

In addition, on Aug. 12, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an emergency injunction requested by a group of New York landlords. The court said that the CEEFPA’s provisions allowing tenants to self-declare their own COVID-19 hardships to obtain stays of eviction proceedings violate the constitutional rights of property owners because they could not challenge the hardship declarations.

This decision will likely be part of the legislative discussion about whether to extend CEEFPA under the pending bill. In the meantime, property owners may have questions about the Tenant Safe Harbor Act (TSHA) and the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CERAP).