Diamond Ridge Partners LLC v. Hanspal, 2021-21250

CourtNew York District Court
Writing for the CourtWilliam Hohauser, J.
PartiesDiamond Ridge Partners LLC, Petitioner, v. Guramit Hanspal, et al., Respondents.
Decision Date14 September 2021
Docket Number2021-21250,Index LT-6528/17

Diamond Ridge Partners LLC, Petitioner,
v.

Guramit Hanspal, et al., Respondents.

No. 2021-21250

Index No. LT-6528/17

District Court of Nassau County, First District

September 14, 2021


Attorneys for Petitioner: James Markotsis, Esq., Jordan Katz, Esq.

Attorney for Defendant Hanspal: William Friedman, Esq. Attorney for Chawla: David Gevanter, Esq.

DECISION ON MOTION

William Hohauser, J.

A. Procedural History and Statement of Facts

In or about 1998, respondent Guramit Hanspal ("Hanspal") purchased the property located at 2468 Kenmore Street, East Meadow, NY 11554 ("Kenmore Street"), and obtained a mortgage loan in order to finance this purchase. Following Hanspal's almost simultaneous default on payment of the mortgage note, in May 2000 the original mortgagee obtained a judgment of foreclosure and sale in Nassau County Supreme Court. In 2011, and then again in 2018, the then-Petitioners obtained judgments of possession against Hanspal in February 2011 and in April 2018. [1] During the interim period, apparently in an effort to forestall entry and/or enforcement of the judgments of possession, Hanspal filed at least six (6) bankruptcy petitions, all of which were dismissed. Undeterred by these dismissals or either judgment of eviction, Hanspal filed another bankruptcy petition in 2019, which too was dismissed. In addition, Hanspal has filed numerous other complaints against Petitioner (or its predecessors in interest), both in federal and state courts, each of which has been dismissed. [2]

During 2019, another purported Kenmore Street occupant (but not "tenant," as the term is legally defined), a Boss Chawla ("Chawla"), filed multiple bankruptcy petitions during 2019 alone, also ostensibly to remain in possession of the Kenmore Street premises to which he had no discernable legal right of possession. Like each of Hanspal's petitions before, Chawla's petitions were dismissed outright. Chawla has at no time provided any evidence that he is a lawful occupant of the Kenmore Street premises. Similarly, respondent Bhagwant Srichawla ("Srichawla") also has not provided any evidence that he is a lawful occupant of Kenmore Street. [3] Respondent Paur has not made any appearance in this matter, to any extent.

Following the dismissal of the myriad bankruptcy petitions, Hanspal filed a second motion to vacate the 2018 judgment of this Court which granted possession to Petitioner. As the Court then aptly opined:

Respondent has failed to justify his default for [not] appearing at trial....Respondent had the opportunity to attend the trial and present his evidence....Respondent lost the foregoing opportunity by defaulting at the trial. This history of this case going on for approximately 20 years must come to an end...."

Apparently, Hanspal did not appreciate the irony inherent in his failure to appear on his motion to vacate a default for his non-appearance. Nevertheless, in November 2020, Hanspal filed another Order to Show Cause for rehearing; this too was denied, again for Hanspal's failure to appear.

As this matter continued winding its serpentine meandering through the state and federal court systems, in April 2021 respondents Hanspal and Srichawla submitted "Tenant's Declaration of Hardship During the COVID-19 Pandemic" ("Covid Declaration"), filed pursuant to the COVID 19-Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act [L 2020, ch 382] ("CEEFPA").. On each such Covid Declaration, Hanspal and Srichawla checked only Box "A," indicating that they sustained only financial hardship during the pandemic period. Further, neither Hanspal nor Srichawla noted the location at which they resided pursuant to any defined financial obligation. This case comes before this Court upon Diamond Ridge's motion to invalidate the Covid Declarations filed by Hanspal and Srichawla. [4]

This matter was presented for oral argument on August 5, 2021, at which time Diamond Ridge presented testimony from Mr. Max Sold, a former representative, who testified, among other assertions, that none of the individual respondents had a leasehold / ownership interest, or had made payments of any kind, including for use & occupancy, since Diamond Ridge acceded to ownership of Kenmore Street. [5] Although counsel for respondents appeared, Hanspal failed to do so, and no factual evidence was submitted in rebuttal for the Court's consideration. [6]

B. Legal Analysis

In addressing the issue of whether the instant Respondents qualify as "tenants" or "lawful occupants," a "tenant" may be defined as "one who holds or possesses [premises] by any kind of right or title....[or] one who has the temporary use and occupation of real property owned by another person (called the 'landlord'), the duration and terms of [the] tenancy being usually fixed by an instrument called a "lease" Blacks Law Dictionary, 11th Ed. Courts defining the scope of "tenant" as contemplated by CEEFPA generally have been "intentionally expansive," Tzifil Realty Corp. v. Mazrekaj, 2021 NY Misc. LEXIS 3438 (Kings Co. 2021). As a result, courts have "qualified" an individual asserting a colorable succession claim (The Realty Enter LLC v....

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