NEW YORK STATE
REAL PROPERTY ACTIONS AND PROCEEDINGS LAW
ACTION TO RECOVER REAL PROPERTY
Section 601. Damages for withholding real property
obtainable in action to recover possession;
set-off by defendant.
611. Where action cannot be maintained:
dower; property not exceeding six inches in
width; by mortgagee.
612. Where action cannot be maintained;
action based on reverter or breach of
621. Separate action by joint tenant or
tenant in common.
623. Action by grantee of lands held
625. Action by reversioner or remainderman
after tenant's default.
633. Action against co-tenant; ouster to be
635. Action against occupants of apartments.
637. Action against one defendant subject to
rights of others.
651. Expiration of plaintiff's title before
653. Judgment to state plaintiff's estate.
661. Liability of purchaser pending an
Sec. 601. DAMAGES FOR WITHHOLDING REAL PROPERTY OBTAINABLE IN
ACTION TO RECOVER POSSESSION; SET-OFF BY DEFENDANT.
In an action to recover the possession of real property, the
plaintiff may recover damages for withholding the property,
including the rents and profits or the value of the use and
occupation of the property for a term not exceeding six years;
but the damages shall not include the value of the use of any
improvements made by the defendant or those under whom he claims.
Where permanent improvements have been made in good faith by the
defendant or those under whom he claims, while holding, under
color of title, adversely to the plaintiff, the value thereof
must be allowed to the defendant in reduction of the damages of
the plaintiff, but not beyond the amount of those damages.
Sec. 611. WHERE ACTION CANNOT BE MAINTAINED: DOWER; PROPERTY
NOT EXCEEDING SIX INCHES IN WIDTH; BY MORTGAGEE.
The action cannot be maintained:
1. Where an action for dower may be maintained.
2. Where the real property consists of a strip of land not
exceeding six inches in width upon which there stands the
exterior wall of a building erected partly upon said strip
and partly upon the adjoining lot, and a building has been
erected upon land of the plaintiff abutting on the said
wall, unless said action be commenced within one year after
the completion of the erection of such wall. But an action
may be maintained if commenced within the further period of
one year, for the recovery of damages by reason of the
erection of such wall, and upon the satisfaction of the
judgment for such damages the title of the plaintiff to such
strip of land shall thereby be transferred to and vest in
the defendant. If an action for the recovery of real
property or damages is not brought within the period hereby
limited therefor, the person in possession of such lands
shall be deemed to have an easement in said strip of land so
long as the said wall partly erected thereon shall stand,
and no longer, and in case of the destruction of such wall
the owner of such strip shall have the same right to take or
recover the possession thereof as if such wall had never
3. By a mortgagee, or his assignee, or other representative.
Sec. 612. WHERE ACTION CANNOT BE MAINTAINED; ACTION BASED ON
REVERTER OR BREACH OF CONDITION SUBSEQUENT.
1. Except as otherwise provided in this section, an action to
recover the possession of real property cannot be maintained
where it is founded upon a claim of reverter of an estate in
fee conveyed upon special limitation or founded upon a claim
of breach of a condition subsequent, other than a condition
of a lease for a term of years, unless (a) within ten years
after the occurrence of the reverter or the first occurrence
of the breach, the plaintiff, or any predecessor in interest
then entitled to possession or to exercise the power of
termination, shall have served upon the person or persons
against whom the action might then have been commenced a
written demand that possession be delivered, stating the
ground thereof, and the action is commenced within one year
thereafter or (b), if no such demand is served, the action
is commenced within such ten years.
2. Where the reverter or breach occurred before September 1,
1963, an action may be maintained if demand is made as
provided in this section before the expiration of ten years
computed from the occurrence of the reverter or the first
occurrence of the breach, or on or before September 1, 1965,
whichever is later, and the action is commenced within one
year thereafter or if, without previous demand as provided
in this section, the action is commenced before the
expiration of ten years computed from the occurrence of the
reverter or the first occurrence of the breach, or on or
before September 1, 1965, whichever is later.
3. The demand shall be served either personally or by mailing
the same by certified mail addressed to the person or
persons against whom the action might then have been
commenced, at his or their last known address or addresses.
4. The demand may be made on behalf of an infant by his parent
or guardian or by the person with whom he resides, may be
made on behalf of an incompetent by the committee of his
person or property, and may be made on behalf of a
conservatee by the conservator of his property. If the
person entitled to maintain the action shall have died, the
demand may be made either by the persons succeeding to the
right of the decedent, or one of them, or on their behalf by
the personal representative of the decedent.
5. The demand shall become ineffective unless action to recover
possession in accordance therewith is commenced within one
year from the date of service thereof. If no action is
commenced, or no such demand is served within the time
specified in subdivisions 1 or 2, or if the demand served
becomes ineffective, it shall be conclusively presumed that
the possibility of reverter by reason of which the estate is
claimed to have reverted, or the power of termination for
breach of the condition which is claimed to have been
broken, was extinguished at or before the date when the
reverter would have occurred or a right of entry would have
accrued by reason of such possibility of reverter or breach
of such condition.
6. The operation of this section is not affected by any
disability, or by the fact that the person against whom the
action might have been brought within the period herein
provided was during that time a non-resident or absent from
the state, and is not affected by any lack of knowledge on
the part of any person that the reverter or breach has
occurred, unless it is established that the facts upon which
the reverter occurred, or the facts constituting the breach,
were concealed from the plaintiff or his predecessor in
interest by actual fraud. If such fraud be established, the
time provided in subdivision 1 or 2 shall commence to run
when the facts are discovered by a person entitled to serve
the demand as provided in this section.
7. This section does not limit any other statute or rule of law
or equity by which a possibility of reverter or right of
entry is or may be extinguished or rendered unenforceable,
or by which an action to recover possession of the property
may be extinguished or barred.
Sec. 621. SEPARATE ACTION BY JOINT TENANT OR TENANT IN COMMON.
Where two or more persons are entitled to the possession of real
property as joint tenants or tenants in common, one or more of
them may maintain the action to recover his or their undivided
shares in the property in any case where such an action might be
maintained by all.
Sec. 623. ACTION BY GRANTEE OF LANDS HELD ADVERSELY.
The action shall be maintained by a grantee, his executors,
administrators or assigns in his own name, although at the time
of the conveyance, such real property was in the actual
possession of a person claiming under a title adverse to that of
Sec. 625. ACTION BY REVERSIONER OR REMAINDERMAN AFTER TENANT'S
Where a tenant for life or for a term of years suffers judgment
to be taken against him, by consent or by default, in an action
to recover real property, the heir or person owning the reversion
or remainder, may maintain an action to recover the property,
after the determination of the particular estate.
Sec. 631. DEFENDANTS.
Where the complaint demands judgment for the immediate possession
of the property, if the property is actually occupied, the
occupant shall be made defendant in the action. If it is not so
occupied, the action shall be brought against some person
exercising acts of ownership thereupon, or claiming title thereto
or an interest therein, at the time of the commencement of the
action. Any person claiming title to, or the right to the
possession of, the real property sought to be recovered, as
landlord, remainderman, reversioner, or otherwise adversely to
the plaintiff, may be joined as defendant.
Sec. 633. ACTION AGAINST CO-TENANT; OUSTER TO BE PROVED.
Where the action is brought by a tenant in common or a joint
tenant against his co-tenant, the plaintiff, besides proving his
right, shall also prove that the defendant actually ousted him or
did some other act amounting to a total denial of his right.
Sec. 635. ACTION AGAINST OCCUPANTS OF APARTMENTS.
In a case where two or more defendants occupy different
apartments in a building the plaintiff is entitled to judgment
jointly against all the defendants who are liable to him.
Sec. 637. ACTION AGAINST ONE DEFENDANT SUBJECT TO RIGHTS OF
Where one or more answering defendants hold under another
defendant, and the plaintiff elects to proceed against the
latter, subject to the rights and interests of the former, if the
plaintiff recovers final judgment against the defendant under
whom they hold, the judgment operates as a transfer to the
plaintiff of that defendant's right, title and interest.
Sec. 641. COMPLAINT.
The complaint shall state the plaintiff's interest in the
property and describe it with reasonable certainty in such manner
that, from the description, possession of the property claimed
may be delivered.
Sec. 651. EXPIRATION OF PLAINTIFF'S TITLE BEFORE TRIAL.
If the right or title of the plaintiff expires after the
commencement of the action but before the trial, and he would
have been entitled to recover but for the expiration, the
verdict, report or decision shall be rendered according to the
fact; and the plaintiff is entitled nevertheless to judgment for
his damages for the withholding of the property to the time when
his right or title so expired.
Sec. 653. JUDGMENT TO STATE PLAINTIFF'S ESTATE.
A verdict, report or decision in favor of the plaintiff and the
judgment rendered thereon, shall specify in writing the estate of
the plaintiff in the property recovered, whether it is in fee, or
for life, or for a term of years stating for whose life it is, or
specifying the duration of the term, if the estate be less than a
Sec. 661. LIABILITY OF PURCHASER PENDING AN ACTION.
If the defendant aliens the real property in question after the
filing of a notice of pendency of the action, and an execution
against him for the plaintiff's damages is returned wholly or
partly unsatisfied, an action may be maintained by the plaintiff
against any person who has been in possession of the property,
under the defendant's conveyance, to recover the unsatisfied
portion of the damages, for a time not exceeding that during
which he possessed the property.