Landlords in New York City can evict tenants for failing to pay rent, breaking the terms of the lease, or remaining in possession after the lease expires. However, landlords must strictly follow the proper legal process and, where required, give advance notice to the tenant of how they have breached the lease and allow an opportunity for them to cure the default. Failure to fully comply with all required procedures could result in the claim being dismissed and the landlord liable for damages to the Tenant.
Reviewing the eviction process
A landlord cannot evict a residential tenant from their home without commencement of a court proceeding. A landlord commences the legal proceeding by service of a notice of petition and petition, which are often preceded by a preliminary notice. For instance, a landlord must serve a 14 day demand for rent before commencing a non-payment proceeding. The Petition describes the reasons why the landlord is seeking to evict the tenant; the Notice of Petition provides information about the hearing.
There are numerous reasons why a tenant can be evicted. Some of those include:
- Breaching the terms of the lease: The tenant fails to comply with the terms of the lease and fails to cure the default. Examples include unauthorized subletting, unapproved alterations, or creation of a nuisance.
- Remaining in the premises after the term of the lease expires: If a tenant fails to vacate the premises at the end of the term, the landlord can commence a holdover proceeding. If the landlord does not intend to renew the lease or plans on increasing the rent more than 5% as a condition of renewal, the landlord must provide at least a 60-day notice to the tenant if the tenant has been in possession for more than one year but less than two years (tenants in possession for two years or more are entitled to 90 days’ notice). Failure to give this notice will result in dismissal of the lawsuit and/or deny the landlord the right to collect the increased rent.
- Failing to pay rent: The landlord must provide a 14-day written demand for rent before a proceeding can be commenced. A tenant can assert defenses such as the landlord’s failure to make repairs as a defense to a claim for rent.
Beyond the scope of this blog are additional time limits and moratoriums related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Understanding illegal eviction
You can call law enforcement to file a report if your landlord locks you out of the premises without a legal proceeding. The law prohibits the landlord from locking you out of your home, turning off utilities, taking the door off the unit, removing your property or furniture, placing padlocks on the doors or harassing you with the intent of causing you to vacate the premises. Landlords can be liable for three times a tenant’s actual damages as a result of an illegal lockout.
Both landlords and tenants are entitled to have an attorney represent them in any eviction proceeding. Given the strict requirements that a landlord must follow in order to evict a tenant, a knowledgeable attorney such as those at Tane Waterman & Wurtzel, P.C. would be aware of procedures that a landlord must follow and defenses that a tenant may have of which they are not aware.