Judge Maria Ressos

Landlord sued tenant Arroyo for non-payment of rent. The petition and rent demand reflect that $1,485.18 was the monthly rent. The parties entered into a stipulation of settlement and consented to a final judgment for all rent claimed through June 2012. Arroyo breached the stipulation, including the stipulation for additional time to pay arrears. Through newly obtained counsel, Arroyo now sought vacatur of the prior stipulations and court order, arguing the petition and judgment were based on unlawful rent. Arguing against vacatur of the stipulations, landlord claimed Arroyo’s actions reflected a “disregard of contractual obligations as well an ability to manipulate the system.” Yet, the court found it was landlord’s conduct that reflected a blatant disregard of contractual obligations and the ability to manipulate the system. It noted landlord knowingly and willingly entered into an agreement reducing Arroyo’s rent to permit the state to pay the maximum “FEPS arrears.” Once approval was granted, landlord accepted payment and began the non-payment proceeding for the higher rents instead of reducing tenant’s rent as promised. As the rental claim exceeded the lawful, agreed upon rent, the stipulation, judgment and warrant were vacated, and the proceeding dismissed.