Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. was retained by a tenant to defend him in a summary holdover proceeding. The proceeding, however, was far from a garden variety holdover proceeding predicated upon the termination of a long-term month-to-month tenancy. Instead, the Landlord here was so enraged by the Tenant’s exercise of his lawful right in applying for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which stayed the holdover proceeding pending a final determination of the Tenant’s eligibility under the Program, that it commenced a Supreme Court Action seeking, inter alia, a money judgment for arrears that accrued prior to termination of the tenancy along with an award of attorneys’ fees.
The manifest problem with the Landlord’s all too transparent attempt to circumvent the statutory ERAP stay was that the arrears and use and occupancy sought in the Supreme Court action were already encompassed in the Tenant’s ERAP application and the holdover petition. Nevertheless, the Tenant tendered payment for the arrears sought by the Landlord only to witness the Landlord irrationally reject the payment.
The Supreme Court action also seeks an exorbitant $25,000,000.00 based upon the Tenant’s alleged thwarting of the Landlord’s plans to convert the subject building to condominium ownership. This forms the true basis of the dispute and has seemingly compelled the Landlord to engage in unprecedented levels of harassment in hopes that the Tenant, the sole remaining occupant of the building that has not entered into a buyout agreement with the Landlord, will simply surrender his home of the past fifteen years. The epitome of the harassment was the placement of a machine that produced a continuous, mind-numbing noise directly outside of the Tenant’s door for several weeks without cessation. Although the Landlord maintained that the machine was an “air filter” placed upon every floor upon which construction was taking place, no similar machine was found on any other floor where construction work was in progress.
The Landlord moved for partial summary judgment on its claim for three months’ worth of rental arrears. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. opposed the motion arguing that it was moot given the Tenant’s tender of the amount sought in the motion and similarly, that the Landlord was in violation of centuries of law by splitting its claim between the Supreme Court action and Civil Court proceeding.
The Court adopted Adam Leitman Bailey P.C.’s arguments, holding that litigating both the action and the holdover proceeding at the same time is a waste of judicial resources. The Court denied Landlord’s motion and in doing so, stayed the Supreme Court action pending a final determination of the holdover proceeding.