J.J.L. REALTY CORP., Petitioner-Landlord, v. Vilmas ALVIRA, Respondent-Tenant.
Petitioner commenced this summary nonpayment proceeding on or about September 20, 2019. When Respondent failed to appear, Petitioner sought and obtained a default judgment against Respondent. A default judgment was entered on February 5, 2020 and a warrant of eviction issued on February 7, 2020.
Subsequently, by order to show cause dated March 5, 2020, while unrepresented, Respondent moved for an order vacating the default judgment. The order to show cause was made returnable on March 18, 2020. Due to the pandemic, it was not heard on that date and was administratively adjourned instead. On May 19, 2021, the proceeding appeared on the court's calendar for a virtual status conference. Respondent appeared by counsel this time and filed a hardship declaration with the court. In addition, Respondent requested that the default judgment entered against her in February 2020 be vacated and the proceeding restored to the court's calendar.
Petitioner opposed on the grounds that Respondent has not met the standard established for the vacatur of a default judgment under the Civil Practice Law and Rules (“CPLR”) which requires the movant to demonstrate a reasonable excuse and a potentially meritorious defense (see CPLR § 5015 [a] ; see also Jenny Chase Inc. v Pizzolato, 67 Misc 3d 127 (A) [App Term, 1st Dept 2020]).
However, under the facts presented in this case and pursuant to the Covid-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Protection Act of 2020 (“CEEFPA”) no such showing is required. Section 7 of CEEFPA which speaks to default judgments entered before the date the statute was enacted, provides that if a default judgment has been awarded prior to the effective date of the act the default judgment shall be removed and the matter restored to the court's calendar upon Respondent's written or oral request to the court either before or during such hearing (hearing on motion seeking the entry of a default judgment and issuance of a warrant of eviction) (emphasis added) (see also Jenkins Portfolio Cos. v Grant, NYLJ, May 12, 2021).
Based on the above, Respondent's request to vacate the default judgment entered on February 5, 2021 and the warrant of eviction subsequently entered are vacated. The proceeding is hereby stayed through August 31, 2021. The proceeding will appear for a status update on the Part K calendar on September 13, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. which will be held via Microsoft Teams. Invites will follow.
This constitutes the decision and order of the Court.
A copy of this order will be emailed all and uploaded to NYSCEF.
Christel F. Garland, J.
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