With Housing Court largely shut down since March 2020, landlord attorneys have increasingly turned to ejectment actions in Supreme Court as a possible work around. What is an ejectment action?
An ejectment action is an ancient common law eviction proceeding that, with a few exceptions, is brought in Supreme Court. While a holdover proceeding is a statutory proceeding brought in Housing Court [if residential] and governed by Article 7 of the Real Property Actions and Proceeding Law. Holdovers and their close relative, nonpayment proceedings, are summary proceedings. They were created in the early 20th century to give landlords an expedited means of recovering possession of real property. The statute accomplishes this with short timeframes and streamlined procedures. For example, there is no discovery [e.g., depositions, document production] as of right. By contrast, in an ejectment action the parties can avail themselves of the full panoply of discovery devices.
The net result is that a holdover proceeding – even a heavily contested one – will usually be concluded in 12-18 months [assuming the attorneys are diligent]. Ejectment actions, however, routinely take 24-36 months. That they would resort to a remedy that on average takes twice as long, shows the desperation of some landlords in the face of the Covid-19 restrictions.
Dated: September 29, 2021