There are occasions when Landlord/Tenant disputes make their way and play out in the New York State Supreme Court, rather than in the various Civil and Housing Courts of the City of New York. Sometimes circumstances require that legal action be pursued simultaneously in both forums. There are a variety of circumstances in which the Supreme Court is a desirable, or in certain instances a necessary forum within which to pursue, protect and determine the rights of the Landlord. There may be circumstances where the tenant is interpreting his or her written lease agreement, or governing provisions of Law, in a manner which the Landlord believes to be clearly incorrect. That remedy is available to the Landlord. Perhaps, an action for Declaratory Judgment is what is required. This action to declare the rights of the parties can only be pursued in the Supreme Court. The Civil Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to entertain such lawsuits. What if a Tenant proposes to undertake, or actually begins alteration which may damage the premises or interfere with the rights of adjoining Tenants? What is the Landlord to do? The answer may be to start an action in Supreme Court seeking both a permanent injunction to prevent the Tenant from ultimately performing those alterations, and a preliminary injunction to stop the tenant from proceeding while the case works its way through the Court system, thereby preserving the status quo until the Court ultimately rules on the dispute. We have the experience and know-how to handle such situations. We also are equipped to deal with Supreme Court actions instituted by a Tenant against the Landlord, for example, in response to the service of a Notice to Cure by the Landlord alleging a lease violation. Under what circumstances is a Tenant then entitled to attempt to obtain an injunction from the Supreme Court preventing the Landlord from pursuing its Holdover proceeding in Civil Court? The entitlement to what is commonly known as a “Yellowstone Injunction” will depend on a number of factors including whether or not the period for curing an alleged default by the Tenant has already expired, and whether or not the Tenant has the wherewithal to cure such an alleged default, short of moving from the rented premises. Such Yellowstone Injunctions are only properly brought by a commercial Tenant in Supreme Court, not by a residential Tenant. The distinction is important and has to do with various technicalities including the ability of a residential Tenant to seek and obtain full and complete relief in the Civil Court. Sounds confusing? It can be, and that is why we are equipped to navigate the complexities of such litigation.
There are other instances when it is necessary to proceed in Supreme Court to represent the interests of the Landlord. In the context of an administrative proceeding involving a rent regulated Tenant, a determination made by the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) which adversely affects the interest of the Landlord, can be challenged within certain proscribed time periods in Supreme Court in what is known as an Article 78 proceeding. The Article 78 proceeding is often brought by a Landlord to annul the final determination of the Administrative Agency. Experience in handling such Article 78 proceedings, both in the nature of an affirmative challenge to the Administrative Agency determination and when appropriate, to defend such a determination if challenged by a Tenant, is important. We are available to advance the Landlord’s interests and either oppose or support, as the case may require, action taken by the DHCR at the Administrative Agency level. The Article 78 proceeding will then ultimately result in a determination by Supreme Court as to whether or not the decision of the DHCR, which is the subject matter of the appeal, was rationally based or arbitrary and capricious. The decision of the Supreme Court in this Article 78 proceeding is also subject to further appeal to the New York State Appellate Division, and if warranted and permitted to the New York State Court of Appeals.