Philadelphia Skyline

Bedford Gardens Company, LP v. Silka Sure Hecht Jacobowitz

29 A.D.3d 501 (2nd dept. 2006)

The Supreme Court erred in denying that branch of the motion of Bedford Gardens, a housing company organized under the Mitchell-Lama Law, which was for summary judgment on its cause of action for ejectment. The last tenant of record of the premises was Gilmore. Pursuant to a Housing Court stipulation of settlement Bedford Gardens agreed to permit the defendant Silka Sure Hecht to occupy the premises with Gilmore. Thereafter, Hecht was listed on annual re-certifications for the premises as Gilmore's "friend." At some point, Gilmore vacated the apartment and the defendant Jacob Jacobowitz moved into the apartment. Thereafter, Bedford Gardens advised the defendants that they could not retain possession of the apartment based on their failure to qualify as remaining family members entitled to succession rights. HPD found that the defendants were not remaining family members of Gilmore entitled to succession rights and issued a certificate of eviction against them. The decision informed the defendants that the only review of the determination was pursuant to CPLR article 78. The defendants did not institute a CPLR article 78 proceeding. Bedford Gardens thereafter sent the defendants a "Notice to Quit Licensee" and commenced this action seeking a judgment of ejectment against the defendants. Bedford Gardens moved for summary judgment on its cause of action for ejectment, the Supreme Court denied Bedford Gardens' motion and this appeal was taken. The Supreme Court was reversed and summary judgment granted to Bedford Gardens because HPD is vested with exclusive jurisdiction to determine remaining family-member claims in city-aided Mitchell-Lama housing, and its issuance of a certificate of eviction cannot be collaterally attacked in a subsequent action for ejectment. If the defendants felt aggrieved by HPD's determination, their remedy was to challenge that determination in a CPLR Article 78 proceeding - a step they failed to take.  Link to Full Text of Decision

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