NEW YORK STATE
REAL PROPERTY ACTIONS AND PROCEEDINGS LAW
ACTION TO COMPEL THE DETERMINATION OF A CLAIM
TO REAL PROPERTY
Section 1501. Who may maintain an action.
1503. Action to determine claims where
foreclosure of mortgage was void or voidable.
1511. Additional parties.
1513. Guardians ad litem.
1522. Accounting in certain cases.
1523. Judgment of foreclosure in certain cases.
1531. Effect of judgment.
1541. Article applies to corporations and
to the people of the state of New York.
1551. Effect of article.
Sec. 1501. WHO MAY MAINTAIN AN ACTION.
1. Where a person claims an estate or interest in real
property; or where he claims such estate or interest as
executor or administrator of a deceased person; or where a
municipal corporation has purchased an estate or interest in
real property at a sale conducted by it for unpaid taxes
against the property and the time within which redemption
from such sale may be made has expired and such municipal
corporation claims it; such person or municipal corporation,
as the case may be, may maintain an action against any other
person, known or unknown, including one under disability as
hereinafter specified, to compel the determination of any
claim adverse to that of the plaintiff which the defendant
makes, or which it appears from the public records, or from
the allegations of the complaint, the defendant might make;
provided, however, that where the estate or interest claimed
by the plaintiff is for a term of years, the action may not
be maintained unless the balance remaining of such term of
years is not less than five.
2. Such action may be maintained, even though the defendant's
claim appears to be invalid on its face, or the court may
have to determine the death of a person, or any statutory
limitation of time, or any other question of fact or law
upon which an adjudication of the adverse claims of the
parties may depend.
3. An action against a woman who claims a right of dower in the
whole or a part of the property cannot be commenced until
the expiration of four months after the death of defendant's
4. Where the period allowed by the applicable statute of
limitation for the commencement of an action to foreclose a
mortgage, or to enforce a vendor's lien, has expired, any
person having an estate or interest in the real property
subject to such encumbrance may maintain an action against
any other person or persons, known or unknown, including one
under disability as hereinafter specified, to secure the
cancellation and discharge of record of such encumbrance,
and to adjudge the estate or interest of the plaintiff in
such real property to be free therefrom; provided, however,
that no such action shall be maintainable in any case where
the mortgagee, holder of the vendor's lien, or the successor
of either of them shall be in possession of the affected
real property at the time of the commencement of the action.
In any action brought under this section it shall be
immaterial whether the debt upon which the mortgage or lien
was based has, or has not, been paid; and also whether the
mortgage in question was, or was not, given to secure a part
of the purchase price.
5. The interest had by any mortgagee or contract vendee of real
property or by any successor in interest of either of them,
is an "interest in real property" as that phrase is used in
this article of the real property actions and proceedings
Sec. 1503. ACTION TO DETERMINE CLAIMS WHERE FORECLOSURE OF
MORTGAGE WAS VOID OR VOIDABLE.
When real property has been sold pursuant to a judgment in an
action to foreclose a mortgage under article 13 of this chapter
or pursuant to article 14 of this chapter, or has been conveyed
to the mortgagee or the designee of such mortgagee by deed in
lieu of foreclosure, and it appears from the public records or
from the allegations of the complaint that such judgment, sale or
conveyance was or may have been, for any reason, void or voidable
as against any person, including an owner of the real property
mortgaged, the purchaser or such mortgagee or designee, or the
successor of any such person, in possession of such real
property, may maintain an action as provided in this article to
determine the right of any person to set aside such judgment,
sale or conveyance or to enforce an equity of redemption or to
recover possession of the property, or the right of any junior
mortgagee to foreclose a mortgage. Such action may be maintained
even though an action against the defendant to foreclose the
mortgage under which the judgment, sale or conveyance was made,
or to extinguish a right of redemption, would be barred by the
statutes of limitation.
Sec. 1511. ADDITIONAL PARTIES.
1. In an action brought under this article, the person in
possession shall be made a party to the action, and when
such person claims the right of possession, or an interest
in the real property, under another, such other person shall
also be made a party.
2. Where it appears to the court that a person not a party to
the action may have an estate or interest in the real
property which may in any manner be affected by the
judgment, the court, upon application of such person, or of
any party to the action, or on its own motion, may direct
that such person be made a party.
Sec. 1513. GUARDIANS AD LITEM.
If it shall appear by the complaint or is otherwise made to
appear to the court at any time before a final judgment, that a
defendant is or might be an infant, or incompetent to manage
himself or his affairs, or that a future interest in the affected
real property has been so limited that as yet there are neither
certain nor presumptive owners thereof in being or ascertained,
such court shall appoint a guardian ad litem who shall represent
and protect such infant or incompetent, or the possible interests
of the person or persons who eventually may become entitled to
such real property or to an interest therein under such
limitation, and in case of the death or failure or inability of
such guardian to act, a successor, who shall appear for such
infant or incompetent or for such possible interests until the
termination of such action.
Sec. 1515. COMPLAINT.
1. The complaint must state that the action is brought pursuant
to this article and must set forth facts showing:
a. The plaintiff's estate or interest in the real
property, the particular nature of such estate or
interest, and the source from or means by which the
plaintiff's estate or interest immediately accrued to
him; and if his estate or interest therein is for a
term of years, that the balance remaining of such term
of years is not less than five.
b. That the defendant claims, or that it appears from the
public records or from the allegations of the
complaint, that the defendant might claim an estate or
interest in the real property, adverse to that of the
plaintiff, and the particular nature of such estate or
interest. Where the people of the state of New York are
made a party defendant, as provided in this article,
the summons and complaint must be served upon the
attorney-general who must appear in behalf of the
people, and the complaint shall set forth detailed
facts showing the particular nature of the estate or
interest and the reason for making the people a party
defendant. Upon failure to state such facts, the
complaint shall be dismissed as to the people of the
state of New York.
c. Whether any defendant is known or unknown, and whether
any defendant is or might be an infant, mentally
retarded, mentally ill or an alcohol abuser.
d. Whether the judgment will or might affect a person or
persons not in being or ascertained at the commencement
of the action, who by any contingency contained in a
devise or grant or otherwise, could afterward become
entitled to a beneficial estate or interest in the
property involved; and whether every person in being
who would have been entitled to such estate or interest
if such event had happened immediately before the
commencement of the action is named as a party thereto.
2. The complaint must describe the property claimed with common
certainty, by setting forth the name of the township or
tract and the number of the lot, if there is any, or in some
other appropriate manner, so that from the description
possession of the property claimed may be delivered where
the plaintiff is entitled thereto, and may contain an
allegation that no personal claim is made against any
defendant other than a defendant who shall assert a claim
adverse to the claim of the plaintiff set forth in the
complaint. The demand for judgment may be to the effect that
the defendant and every person claiming under him be barred
from all claim to an estate or interest in the property
described in the complaint, or that possession be awarded
the plaintiff, or it may combine two or more of said demands
with other demand for appropriate relief.
3. In an action brought as specified in subdivision 3 of
section 1501, if the complaint admits the defendant's right
of dower in the property described therein, or in any part
thereof, it must demand judgment that her dower be
Sec. 1517. ANSWER.
The defendant may, in his answer, deny any material allegation of
the complaint controverted by him, or any knowledge or
information thereof sufficient to form a belief, or may set forth
facts constituting a defense; and thereupon he may demand
judgment dismissing the complaint. He may also set forth facts as
a counterclaim for the same cause of action; or the defendant may
set forth facts showing that he has an estate or interest in said
property; and thereupon he may demand any judgment to which he
would be entitled in an action brought by him to recover that
estate or to enforce in any manner the interest which he asserts
in such property; or he may combine any two or more of said
Sec. 1519. PROCEEDINGS.
1. In an action maintained under this article, the proceedings
shall be governed by the provisions regulating civil
actions, except as otherwise provided in this article.
2. When service of the summons on any defendant is made by
publication, the order for such service shall direct that
any papers required by such order to be mailed to such
defendant shall be sent by registered mail, and when such
mailing is required shall also direct that an affidavit, by
or on behalf of the plaintiff, be filed stating that such
papers were mailed as required by such order.
3. Whenever a claim of right to immediate possession is in
issue, the person in possession shall be presumed to have
the right to such possession, but such presumption may be
4. Where any party claims the real property in question, or any
part thereof, by virtue of an estate in reversion or in
remainder, whether vested or contingent, and the verdict,
report, or decision finds that he has such an estate, it
must specify the time when, or the contingency upon which,
he will be entitled to possession.
5. Where the complaint demands, as provided in subdivision 3 of
section 1515 of this article, that the defendant's dower be
admeasured, and the defendant does not, by her answer, set
forth facts showing that she is entitled to a greater right
of dower, or another estate or interest in the property,
than that admitted by the plaintiff, and demand judgment
therefor, as if she were the plaintiff in an action for
dower, the court must render an interlocutory judgment,
directing her dower to be admeasured, with or without
damages for its detention, as in an action for dower. The
subsequent proceedings shall be the same, as if the
defendant had, as plaintiff, recovered an interlocutory
judgment in an action for dower.
Sec. 1521. JUDGMENT.
1. Final judgment in the action shall declare the validity of
any claim to any estate or interest established by any party
to the action. The judgment shall also declare that any
party whose claim to an estate or interest in the property
has been adjudged invalid, and every person claiming under
him, by title accruing after the filing of the judgment-
roll, or of the notice of the pendency of the action, as
prescribed by law, be forever barred from asserting such
claim to an estate or interest the invalidity of which is
established in the action, and may direct that any
instrument purporting to create any such estate or interest
be delivered up or cancelled of record or be reformed of
record as the facts may require. Judgment may also be given
awarding possession of real property to any party together
with his damages for the withholding of such property and
two or more of such forms of judgment may be awarded in the
2. If one of the parties to the action is the people of the
state and the judgment adversely affects the title, interest
or claim of the people of the state based upon a tax deed,
the judgment shall also provide in effect as follows:
a. That the people of the state of New York shall have a
lien upon such real property or part thereof described
in such tax deed, prior and superior to all other
liens, (1) for the amount of the unpaid taxes not
adjudged illegal in such action for which such real
property was sold or liable to be sold in the first
instance and for which such tax deed was issued,
together with fees, charges and interest; (2) for the
amount of the unpaid taxes not adjudged illegal in such
action for which such real property was subsequently
sold or liable to be sold, together with fees, charges
and interest; (3) for the amount of all taxes, fees and
charges admitted or paid by the people upon such real
property to the date of the entry of such judgment,
together with interest thereon from the date of such
admission or payment. In the determination of the
amount of such lien, establishment of payments of taxes
on said land by the adjudged or admitted owner of the
property during any of the same years in which payments
were also made by the people of the state of New York
shall reduce the lien of the people by the larger of
the two tax payments for each of the years affected by
duplicate payments, and in the event that wholly
identical areas are not affected by the duplicate
payments the court shall have power to apportion and
adjust the amount of the lien as equity may require;
b. That the people of the state of New York may foreclose
such lien as a mortgage on real property is foreclosed,
provided such lien remains unpaid after the expiration
of one year from the entry of such judgment.
The remedy provided by this subdivision for recovery of tax
payments shall be in addition to any other remedy now or
hereafter available in law or in equity.
3. If a judgment described in subdivision 1 or subdivision 2 is
taken upon the defendant's default in appearing or pleading,
it shall not award costs to either party, unless it be taken
upon a default in answering after the decision of a motion
addressed to the complaint. A defendant against whom no
personal claim is made in the complaint shall not be
entitled to costs unless awarded by the court when such
defendant asserts in his answer and establishes a claim in
said lands adverse to the claim of the plaintiff in said
4. Where a verdict, report, or decision is rendered, as
prescribed by subdivision 4 of section 1519, final judgment
to that effect must be rendered accordingly, without
damages. In such a case, an execution for the delivery of
the possession of the property may be issued upon the
judgment; but only by the special order of the court, made
upon an application by the defendant, or a person claiming
under him, and upon satisfactory proof that the time has
arrived when, or the contingency has happened upon which,
the applicant is entitled to possession by the terms of the
5. Where the judgment directs that an instrument be delivered
up, cancelled or reformed of record, or that real property
be conveyed, if the direction is disobeyed, the court, by
order, besides punishing the disobedience as a contempt, may
require the sheriff to take, and deposit or deliver, the
instrument or to convey the real property, or to perform the
required acts in conformity with the direction of the court.
Sec. 1522. ACCOUNTING IN CERTAIN CASES.
In an action brought under section 1503 the court shall direct
such accounting as justice requires in the circumstances for
rents and profits of the property or the value of the use and
occupation during the period subsequent to the original sale or
conveyance in lieu of foreclosure during which possession of the
property was held by the plaintiff or by any other party to the
Sec. 1523. JUDGMENT OF FORECLOSURE IN CERTAIN CASES.
1. In an action under section 1503 if it shall appear to the
court that there was a defect in the original foreclosure
proceedings and such defect was not occasioned by the fraud
or willful neglect of the plaintiff, the judgment may
foreclose or reforeclose the mortgage pursuant to article 13
of this chapter, notwithstanding that an action to foreclose
the mortgage would otherwise be barred; provided, however,
that no recovery shall be granted for any residue of the
debt, remaining unsatisfied, if an action to foreclose the
mortgage would otherwise be barred.
2. If it shall appear to the court in any such action that the
defect in the foreclosure proceedings was not due to fraud
or willful neglect of the plaintiff and that the defendant
or the person under whom he claims was not actually
prejudiced thereby, the judgment may fix a time for
redemption of the property and provide that a failure to
redeem within such time shall thereafter preclude the
defendant from redeeming the property or claiming any right,
title or interest therein.
3. If a redemption of the property is ordered, the court must
direct that the value of any improvement to the property
made subsequent to the original sale or conveyance in lieu
of foreclosure shall be added in computing the amount
necessary to redeem the premises, in the same manner as if
the value of such improvements was a portion of the mortgage
4. If a new sale of the premises is ordered, the court may
include in the judgment a provision awarding to the
plaintiff the value of any improvements to the property made
subsequent to the original sale or conveyance in lieu of
foreclosure, in the same manner as if the value of such
improvements was a portion of the mortgage debt.
5. The relief provided for in subdivision two of this section
shall not be granted unless
a. the mortgage was executed after September 1, 1951, or
b. the defendant whose right title or interest will be
extinguished by failure to redeem the property within
the time fixed by the judgment held such right to
redeem only by virtue of a subordinate mortgage or
other lien, and an action to foreclose such right of
redemption would not be barred at the time this act
shall take effect.
The relief provided for in subdivision four of this section shall
not be granted unless the improvements were made after September
1, 1951, except to the extent that a recovery, allowance or
credit for or on account of the value of any improvements,
including improvements made prior to the effective date of this
act, might be granted, in any other action or proceeding, to the
person maintaining the action provided for in section 1503.
Sec. 1531. EFFECT OF JUDGMENT.
1. A final judgment in favor of either party, in an action
brought as prescribed in this article, is conclusive, as to
the title established in the action, against the other
party, known or unknown, including an infant, a mentally
retarded person, a mentally ill person, or an alcohol
abuser, and also against every person claiming from, through
or under that party, by title accruing after the filing of
the judgment roll, or of the notice of the pendency of the
action, as prescribed by law; also against each person not
in being or ascertained at the commencement of the action,
who by any contingency contained in a devise or grant or
otherwise, could afterward become entitled to a beneficial
estate or interest in the property involved, provided that
every person in being who would have been entitled to such
estate or interest if such event had happened immediately
before the commencement of the action is a party thereto, or
that a guardian ad litem is appointed, as prescribed by
2. A new trial of said action after judgment shall not be
granted as a matter of right, but the court may, in its
discretion in the interest of justice, grant a new trial
upon an application made by any party within one year after
said judgment. Upon any new trial of an action brought as
prescribed in this article, the record of the evidence given
upon the previous trial may be again offered to the court by
either party, and may be received in evidence, in case the
same evidence cannot be again procured. The courts may make
such rules and orders as to preserving the record of the
evidence given in such actions and perpetuating the proofs
produced therein, either with or without the awarding of any
other relief to the party whose proofs are so perpetuated,
as shall be necessary or proper, and may embrace such
directions in the judgment.
Sec. 1541. ARTICLE APPLIES TO CORPORATIONS AND TO THE PEOPLE
OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK.
An action may be maintained, as prescribed in this article, by or
against a corporation, or by or against an unincorporated
association, as if it were a natural person, or such an action
may be maintained by or against the receiver or other successor
of any such corporation or association, or by or against the
people of the state of New York, and the use of the masculine
gender or of the term person in this article includes the people
of the state of New York.
Sec. 1551. EFFECT OF ARTICLE.
Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to limit any
other remedy in law or equity.