Evictions

EVICTIONS

Your landlord can evict you for two reasons. The first type occurs when your landlord wants to evict you for certain conduct. The landlord will first have to let you know, in writing, that the eviction is coming. This type of case is called a “holdover” proceeding.  In certain situations, the landlord will have to give you a chance to fix the problem before continuing with the eviction case.

The second type occurs when your landlord wants to evict you for nonpayment of rent. This type of case is called a “non-payment” proceeding. The landlord must give you a rent demand (orally or in writing) before starting the proceeding. If the rent issue is not resolved, the landlord will give you a document called a notice of petition and petition, which is the legal document that tells you where and when you need to go to court and how much rent the landlord is claiming.

Before beginning a nonpayment proceeding, your landlord must give you at least three days in which to pay the rent or move out. If you fail to pay the rent or move, your landlord can file for eviction.  In either case, the landlord will have to follow the law that may apply to your situation and the terms of your lease. For instance, in rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments, the landlord’s ability to evict you is limited.  But, whether you are subject to rent stabilization/rent control or not, your landlord is not allowed to simply lock you out or remove your belongings from your apartment.  This is called “self-help” and is not permitted.

Evictions

Lease Protections

A tenant with a lease is protected from eviction during the lease period so long as the tenant does not violate any substantial provision of the lease or any local housing laws or codes.  For both regulated and unregulated apartments, landlords must give formal notice of their intention to obtain legal possession of the apartment.  Unless the tenant vacates the premises by a specified date, the landlord may commence eviction proceedings through: (a) a summary non-payment court proceeding to evict a tenant who fails to pay the agreed rent when due and to recover outstanding rent, or (b) a summary holdover proceeding for eviction if a tenant significantly violates a substantial obligation under the lease (such as using the premises for illegal purposes, or committing or permitting a nuisance) or stays beyond the lease term without permission.
[Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (RPAPL) § 711]

Regulated Apartments

Landlords of rent regulated apartments may be required to seek approval from DHCR before commencing a court proceeding, depending on the grounds for eviction.  Where a tenant fails to pay rent, is causing a nuisance, damages the apartment or building, or commits other wrongful acts, the owner may proceed directly in court.  Other grounds, such as where the owner seeks to demolish the building, require that the owner first receive approval from DHCR.  A tenant can be legally evicted only after the landlord has brought a court proceeding and has obtained a judgment of possession.  A tenant should never ignore legal papers; an eviction notice can still be sent if a tenant did not appear in court to answer court papers (petition) sent by the landlord.  Only a sheriff, marshal or constable can carry out a court-ordered warrant to evict a tenant.  Landlords may not evict a tenant by use of force or unlawful means.  For example, a landlord cannot use threats of violence, remove a tenant’s possessions, lock the tenant out of the apartment, or willfully discontinue essential services such as water or heat.  When a tenant is evicted, the landlord may not retain the tenant’s personal belongings or furniture.  The landlord must give the tenant a reasonable amount of time to remove all belongings.
[RPAPL §749; Real Property Law § 235]

Unlawful Eviction

A tenant who is evicted from an apartment in a forcible or unlawful manner is entitled to recover triple damages in a legal action against the landlord.  Landlords in New York City who use illegal methods to force a tenant to move are also subject to both criminal and civil penalties.  Further, the tenant may be entitled to be restored to occupancy.
[RPAPL § 853; NYC Admin. Code § 26-523, § 26-521]


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An attorney can help protect your tenant rights.  They can explain the complex procedures whereby tenants are evicted and act to postpone or contest a pending eviction.