On June 14, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“HSTPA”), which amounts to extensive reform of prior regulations governing rent stabilization and rent control for New York residents. Importantly, the breadth of the recent legislation extends beyond the rent stabilization laws. One particular noteworthy aspect of the new law is that it gives landlords new challenges following the issuance of a warrant of eviction but prior to the execution of the warrant for residential and commercial tenants. While landlords were generally protected from the risk of a tenant bankruptcy filing following the issuance of a warrant of eviction, the new law removes such protections.
Among the sections of New York’s Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (“RPAPL”) that HSTPA impacted the most is Section 749 concerning warrants of eviction. Pursuant to prior versions of RPAPL § 749, the “issuing of a warrant for the removal of a tenant cancels the agreement under which the person removed held the premises, and annuls the relation of landlord and tenant, but nothing contained herein shall deprive the court of the power to vacate such warrant for good cause shown prior to the execution thereof.” RPAPL § 749 (Aug. 26, 2009). Under the prior version of RPAPL 749, the issuance of a warrant of eviction terminated the lease such that any subsequent bankruptcy filing offered no protection to the debtor-tenant and the landlord could readily seek and obtain relief from the automatic stay to execute on the warrant and recover possession of the leased premises. The rationale of the bankruptcy court's decisions in this context was that under former RPAPL § 749, a warrant of eviction terminated the landlord tenant relationship and extinguished any possessory rights that a tenant may have to the premises.
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