Blog posts

Eviction Process

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the ‘Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019’ into law on June 14, 2019.  Among many changes to laws regarding rental properties, the law extends the time that a tenant may retain possession of a premises despite lease violations or not paying rent.


Can a tenant be removed without cause?


A landlord cannot evict a tenant for no reason.  If a landlord wants to have a rental vacated for reasons that do not have to do with the tenant, the landlord must follow a certain procedure.  First there must be no over-riding laws that prevent removal without cause for any reason.  If the tenant has a timed lease, such as a yearly lease, the landlord must wait until the end of the lease.   A landlord may give at least 30-day’s notice to the tenant, but the tenant will not have to vacate until the end of the lease.


If there is no lease, but the tenant is paying the rent and the landlord is accepting it, or the lease specifies that it is month-to-month, the landlord must also give at least a minimum of 30-day’s notice for vacating the premises. Depending on the length of the tenant’s occupancy the Notice period may be a great as 90-days


Please note that there are circumstances where a landlord may not ask a tenant to vacate if there is not cause.  Please call our office for a consultation if you have a case that involves a special case, such as rent-control, rent-stabilization, or government subsidized housing.


For What reasons can a tenant be evicted


A lease is a legal contract, and like any legal contract there are ramifications for violating the terms of that contract.  In the case of a lease agreement, the consequence of violating the terms of the agreement is that the tenant will be asked, or even forced to vacate the premises.  However, there is a very specific chain of events that must take place.


Most evictions fall under the categories of 1 – lease violations, 2 – non-payment of rent, 3 – holdovers.


Lease violations are simply when the terms of the lease are not being met or are being specifically ignored.  Examples of lease violations may be unapproved subletting, unauthorized pets, extended stay guests or unapproved occupants, or improper use of the space.  Non-payment of rent is exactly that, when the tenant does not pay the rent.  A holdover is when a tenant stays after a lease has expired.  If the holdover pays the rent and the landlord accepts it, they have agreed to month-to-month tenancy.  If the holdover does not pay, or the landlord does not accept payment, then the holdover may be subject to eviction.


What is the process of eviction?


With the new law, there have been changes to the process which allows a tenant to remain in possession of the property for a longer time.  The process is very specific and requires intervention of the courts.


When a tenant has not paid rent, nothing can be done until the sixth day after the rent was due.  After that, the landlord can serve the tenant with a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit can be served.  After the service of the notice, the tenant has 14 days to pay the rent arrears or quit the premises.  During this time, no other action may be taken. The landlord also required to send a 5 day late notice via certified mail.


If there has been no remediation in the 14-day window, then the landlord may serve the tenant with a Notice of Petition and a Petition.  A Notice of Petition lets the tenant know that they must appear to answer the actual Petition, which is the outline of why the landlord is proceeding with an eviction.


While the law used to be that you had to give your tenant at least five days’ notice, but no more than 12, the new law is at least ten days and no more than 17. 


Cases of Lease Violation or Holdover


In cases where a tenant has violated the lease, such as having an unauthorized pet, the landlord must serve the tenant with a Notice to Cure.  The lease will control what the cure period is If the violation is cured, there is no longer a case.  If the violation is not resolved, the tenant can then he served with a Notice of Termination.


In the case of Holdover, the Notice to Cure is not served, but rather, a Notice of Termination.  This notifies the tenant that their lease is terminated with at least 30 days’ notice.


Not always so clear


As with most things, the laws have exceptions and details that cannot be fully explained with the required detail.  The best bet is to call our office as soon as you have an issue to see what your options are.  The drafting of notices and the service provisions are all very technical and should be performed by an experienced landlord tenant attorney. As is often the case, many self-represented landlords have their cases dismissed by the Court due to these “technical” defects.  Do not wait let this happen to you.


As a landlord, your property is your business.  While you are providing a home for your tenant, and the law give the tenant every opportunity to fix the issues for which you are seeking an eviction, a lease is a contractual agreement and you both have to satisfy your parts of the agreement.  For tenants, that means the must pay their rent on time or you have the right to begin the procedures set forth to demand an eviction.


Contact the law office of Matthew K. Tannenbaum for a free consultation at 516-683-1234.