New York State Supreme Court’s Jurisdiction Over Summary Eviction Proceedings

Generally, the lower courts, such as various district courts or the New York City Civil Court, have jurisdiction to preside over summary proceedings related to disputes between landlords and tenants, which are governed by Article 7 of the New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (“RPAPL”). Notwithstanding, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the State of New York (the “Supreme Court”) should not be overlooked as a venue to potentially file a summary proceeding pursuant to RPAPL Article 7. A recent case out of the Appellate Division, Third Department, illustrates this point.

In Matter of Cabrera v. Humphrey, 2021 NY Slip Op 00358 (3d Dep’t 2021), the Appellate Division, Third Department ruled that the Supreme Court, Sullivan County, did have subject matter jurisdiction to preside over the residential landlord-tenant dispute under RPAPL Article 7. The basis for the Appellate Division, Third Department’s ruling in Matter of Cabrera v. Humphrey, was that the New York State Constitution, Article VI, §7, provides, in part, that “[t]he supreme court shall have general original jurisdiction in law and equity”.

Among other reasons, the increased filing costs and inherent delays in the Supreme Court may render the Supreme Court a less desirable venue than the lower courts to file a summary proceeding under RPAPL Article 7. However, as noted by the Appellate Division, Third Department in Matter of Cabrera v. Humphrey, this does not mean that the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate a landlord-tenant dispute filed pursuant to RPAPL Article 7. But, even in light of the recent ruling in Matter of Cabrera v. Humphrey, it is unclear whether courts in the New York City area will follow the holding from the Third Department that the Supreme Court is a viable alternative venue to file a summary proceeding pursuant to RPAPL Article 7.

The decision of the Appellate Division, Third Department, in Matter of Cabrera v Humphrey, 2021 NY Slip Op 00358 [3d Dep’t 2021], can be located at this this link: Matter of Cabrera v Humphrey