Judge Bruce Scheckowitz

Tenant McCormick moved to be restored to the subject premises contending she was illegally locked out by non-profit Resurrection Homes without being afforded due process of law. Resurrection claimed it was a temporary residence, and residents signed contracts waiving their rights to various sections of the state’s Real Property Law. Resurrection did not dispute that it changed the locks without providing McCormick prior notice, but argued the contract permitted such action, and noted she had vacated the premises. McCormick did not dispute she had a lease for a permanent residence in the Rockaways, and moved many of her belongings, but due to Hurricane Sandy, the residence was destroyed, and more time was needed to make it habitable before McCormick, who suffered from respiratory issues, was able to move in. The court found McCormick never surrendered possession of the subject premises, noting her acts of packing and moving some belongings to the Rockaways did not rise to the level of an express surrender. It also found the waiver was unenforceable and the contract was unconscionable. As Resurrection’s conduct in engaging in self-help evictions contravened New York City laws, the court awarded McCormick a judgment restoring her to possession.