Harbor Tech LLC v. Correa, Index No. 60788/2019, Index No. 60790/2019

CourtNew York Civil Court
Writing for the CourtJack Stoller, J.
Citation73 Misc.3d 1211 (A),154 N.Y.S.3d 411 (Table)
Parties HARBOR TECH LLC, Petitioner, v. Alfredo CORREA, Respondent. Harbor Tech LLC, Petitioner, v. Benjamin Soto, Respondent.
Decision Date25 October 2021
Docket NumberIndex No. 60788/2019, Index No. 60790/2019

73 Misc.3d 1211 (A)
154 N.Y.S.3d 411 (Table)

HARBOR TECH LLC, Petitioner,
v.
Alfredo CORREA, Respondent.


Harbor Tech LLC, Petitioner,
v.
Benjamin Soto, Respondent.

Index No. 60788/2019, Index No. 60790/2019

Civil Court, City of New York, Kings County.

Decided on October 25, 2021


For Petitioner: Jeffrey Goldman

For Respondent: Jack Lester and Anselmo Alegria

Jack Stoller, J.

Pages numbered

Notice of Motion and Supplemental Affirmation Annexed1, 2

Notice of Cross-Motion and Supplemental Affirmation and Affidavits Annexed3, 4, 5, 6

Affirmation In Reply and Opposition7

Upon the foregoing papers, the Decision and Order on this motion are as follows:

Harbor Tech LLC, the petitioner in these two proceedings ("Petitioner"), commenced these two summary proceedings against Alfredo Correa, the respondent in one of these proceedings ("Respondent Correa"), seeking a money judgment and possession of apartment 206 ("Respondent Correa's apartment") at 14 Verona Street, Brooklyn, New York ("Respondent Correa's building"), and against Benjamin Soto, the respondent in the other one of these proceedings ("Respondent Soto"), seeking a money judgment and possession of apartment 4G ("Respondent Soto's apartment") at 5 Delavan Street, Brooklyn, New York ("Respondent Soto's building"), both on the basis of nonpayment of rent. Respondent Correa and Respondent Soto (collectively, "Respondents") both interposed answers and the Court had commenced with a joint trial of these matters, which were then stayed when Respondents both filed hardship declarations pursuant to a statute regarding evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Petitioner now moves to challenge the hardship declarations pursuant to a recently-enacted statute and for the Court to so-order subpoenas. Respondent Correa cross-moves for a stay of this proceeding based upon his application for emergency COVID-19 benefits and Respondents both cross-move to limit Petitioner's recovery in the nonpayment proceeding. The Court resolves these motions by this order.

Background

Joint trial of these two nonpayment proceedings had proceeded on five dates in 2020, the most recent of which was December 3, 2020, and was continued into 2021. Before the Court could continue with the trial, on December 28, 2020, the Governor signed into law the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020, L. 2020, c. 381 ("CEEFPA"). CEEFPA stayed summary proceedings and provided tenants with a mechanism by which they could inform the Court of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on them, called a "hardship declaration." Tenants filing a hardship declaration could state that they suffered a financial hardship and/or state that they sustained a medical condition that renders moving to be a health risk. A tenant's filing of a hardship declaration in a matter would stay the proceeding through the date set by statute. Respondents both filed hardship declarations in this matter.

During the pendency of the statutory stay, by an order dated August 12, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court enjoined the enforcement of this provision of CEEFPA, Chrysafis v. Marks , 2021 U.S. LEXIS 3635, ––– U.S. ––––, 141 S.Ct. 2482, ––– L.Ed.2d ––––, 2021 WL 3560766, finding that CEEFPA denied landlords a hearing challenging a tenant's self-certification of a hardship and that such a denial violated due process. The Legislature responded by enacting a new statute, signed into law on September 2, 2021, L. 2021, c.417 ("the New Statute"), that provides, inter alia , that hardship declarations, both newly-filed and filed pursuant to CEEFPA, effectuate a stay of evictions for the declarants through January 15, 2022, L. 2021, c. 417, Part C, Subpart A, § 6(a)(ii), but also that landlords may move to challenge hardship declarations on a showing of good faith. L. 2021, c. 417, Part C, Subpart A, § 10(a).

Pursuant to the New Statute, Petitioner moves to challenge Respondents’ hardship declarations, supporting its motions with a variety of copies of Respondents’ social media posts depicting Respondents engaged in various activities that are inconsistent with the proposition that they have suffered financial hardships. Respondent Soto avers in his affidavit in opposition that the hardship he has experienced results from his former source of income as a party promoter, given that various shutdowns occasioned by the pandemic effectively halted nightlife.

The Legislature separately enacted a statute to distribute funds to pay rent arrears, designated as the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program ("ERAP"), codified at L. 2021, c. 56, part BB, amended by L. 2021, c. 417, Part A. Respondent Correa filed an application for ERAP in September of 2021 which is still pending as of this writing.

Respondent Correa's motion for a stay pursuant to his ERAP application

A tenant's application for ERAP benefits stays any pending summary proceeding against that tenant pending a determination of eligibility. L. 2021, c. 417, Part A, § 4. By the plain terms of the statute, then, Respondent Correa shows as a prima facie matter that the Court should continue to stay the summary proceeding against him on grounds separate from any question about Respondent Correa's hardship application.

Petitioner argues against the stay, citing in particular ...

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2 practice notes
  • Karan Realty Assocs. v. Perez, 2022-22093
    • United States
    • New York Civil Court
    • 25 Marzo 2022
    ...of a tenant's ERAP application, 'could naturally and foreseeably resolve the nonpayment litigation.' Harbor Tech, (73 Misc.3d 1211[A], 154 N.Y.S.3d 411) That the petition includes use occupancy in its prayer for relief is of no moment here where there is no indication of any 'written or ora......
  • Karan Realty Assocs. v. Perez, Index L & T 306418/21
    • United States
    • New York Civil Court
    • 25 Marzo 2022
    ...of a tenant's ERAP application, 'could naturally and foreseeably resolve the nonpayment litigation.' Harbor Tech, (73 Misc.3d 1211[A], 154 N.Y.S.3d 411) That the petition includes use occupancy in its prayer for relief is of no moment here where there is no indication of any 'written or ora......
2 cases
  • Karan Realty Assocs. v. Perez, 2022-22093
    • United States
    • New York Civil Court
    • 25 Marzo 2022
    ...of a tenant's ERAP application, 'could naturally and foreseeably resolve the nonpayment litigation.' Harbor Tech, (73 Misc.3d 1211[A], 154 N.Y.S.3d 411) That the petition includes use occupancy in its prayer for relief is of no moment here where there is no indication of any 'written or ora......
  • Karan Realty Assocs. v. Perez, Index L & T 306418/21
    • United States
    • New York Civil Court
    • 25 Marzo 2022
    ...of a tenant's ERAP application, 'could naturally and foreseeably resolve the nonpayment litigation.' Harbor Tech, (73 Misc.3d 1211[A], 154 N.Y.S.3d 411) That the petition includes use occupancy in its prayer for relief is of no moment here where there is no indication of any 'written or ora......

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