Renewing a Money Judgment Before Its Lien Expires and/or Before It Is No Longer Enforceable

Although a New York money judgment is enforceable for 20 years (see CPLR 211 (b)), a real property lien resulting from the judgment is only viable for 10 years. For this reason, the New York State Legislature enacted CPLR 5014 to give a judgment creditor an opportunity to extend the life of the lien by commencing an action for a "renewal judgment".

An amendment in 1986 to CPLR 5014 permitted commencement of an action for a renewal judgment during the last year of the pendency of the original lien if the renewal judgment is awarded within the 10 year lien. The lien takes effect upon the expiration of the first 10-year lien period, thus allowing the judgment creditor to avoid a lien gap. However, CPLR 5014(1) also permits a judgment creditor to commence an action for a new judgment where 10 years has elapsed since the judgment was originally docketed. In that circumstance, a judgment creditor is not prevented from obtaining a renewal judgment but will not be entitled to avoid a lien gap. Therefore, an action for renewal judgment is considered timely commenced even though it is instituted more than 10 years after the judgment was docketed.

The action for renewal judgment may be commenced by filing a summons and complaint or a summons, a motion for summary judgment in lieu of a complaint and an affidavit by a person with personal knowledge of the facts by offering evidentiary proof that he/she is the original judgment creditor, or the judgment creditor's assignee, and that the judgment has not been satisfied. The New York State courts have held that a plaintiff is not guilty of latches even if he/she waits until after the 10 year period to institute an action for a renewal judgment because latches is an equitable defense which is unavailable in an action at law commenced within the period of limitations.

If you have a judgment, or your client has a judgment, where the client is the original creditor, or the assignee of the original creditor, and he/she can demonstrate the existence of the prior judgment, that this defendant was the judgment debtor, that the judgment was docketed within 20 years prior to commencement of the action, the judgment creditor has the opportunity to extend the life of a lien by commencing an action for a renewal judgment. By starting afresh and obtaining a judgment under CPLR Section 5014, the plaintiff will obtain a new 20 year judgment and a new 10-year lien.

Procedurally, you cannot commence the renewal judgment action under the action and index number in which you obtained the original judgment. You must start a new action for a renewal judgment by purchasing a new index number and acquiring personal jurisdiction over the judgment debtor by personally serving the judgment debtor with the summons and complaint or the summons, notice of motion for summary judgment in lieu of complaint and supporting papers.