Margis Realty v. Perez

Landlord/Tenant Law

New York Law Journal


Judge Jack Stoller

Landlord commenced this holdover action against tenant Perez seeking possession of the premises claiming she breached an obligation of her tenancy by chronic non-payment of her rent. The petition alleged the premises was rent-stabilized, naming Perez as a party, and an unknown party as a respondent undertenant. Undertenant appeared pro se claiming to be Perez's nephew and that he could not appear due to poor health. The court held an inquest and awarded landlord a final judgment. Undertenant, now represented, moved for an order vacating the judgment, showing, through a death certificate, that Perez died during the pendency of the action, after the inquest, but before the court entered a judgment. As undertenant did not previously raise the grounds raised by his counsel now, the prior decision denying his pro se order to show case was not law of the case. The court ruled that any order after the party's death, but before a substitution was made was void as the party's death divested the court of jurisdiction. Thus, as Perez died before the entry of the judgment after inquest, undertenant's motion to vacate the judgment was granted, but dismissal was unwarranted.

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