Can't I Just Represent Myself in a Landlord/Tenant Dispute?

It happens all too often that one or both parties who have attempted to represent themselves in a New York landlord/tenant proceeding have to reach out for legal help or realize that they are in over their heads.

While individuals are usually allowed to represent themselves in the court proceedings tied to landlord/tenant disputes in New York, it’s not always a good idea. Especially in the case where the issues at hand are more complicated, it’s important to consider the benefits of hiring an attorney who is knowledgeable about landlord/tenant disputes. Hiring an attorney early can help eliminate a lot of frustration and time simply because an attorney will be well-versed in the relevant laws and procedures.

Certainly in cases where the landlord has retained an attorney but the tenant hasn’t and vice versa highlight the importance of legal counsel. Even an intelligent party to a landlord/tenant dispute can become overwhelmed quickly going to court alone.

There are many procedural issues and contractual issues associated with landlord/tenant disputes in New York. It can easily become overwhelming or confusing if you’re not familiar with the applicable laws and next steps. Not being fully informed can lead to an adverse result in your case. Representing yourself can actually make the situation worse. Sadly, some of the adverse results in New York landlord/tenant disputes might have been avoided if one or both parties had retained legal counsel early on.

While hiring an attorney is not a guarantee of success, it can give you a lot of peace of mind about the procedures and the laws related to the case. In many cases, an attorney can quickly pinpoint the critical issues of a case and work with you to develop a strategy for court. There are many nuances to civil proceedings in New York, and an attorney who has been there before can help you be prepared to the fullest.

A landlord/tenant dispute can quickly escalate, and you may feel more confident about your case and interacting with the other party when you have retained legal counsel. Simply hiring a lawyer can even help to diffuse current interactions with the other party and keep the issue from escalating any further. You may be able to encourage the other party to work with you on a negotiated settlement when you show that you take the issue seriously by hiring a New York landlord/tenant lawyer. Don’t get in over your head without the expertise and advice of a talented lawyer to help you.

Fast Facts on New York Lease Surrenders

While the general goal of a lease is to provide a framework and time conditions of a relationship between a landlord and tenant, it doesn’t always work out that the needs of either party matches up with the lease termination date. There are many situations in which one or both parties may wish to terminate the lease prior to the end date listed.

A landlord, for example, might decide that he or she is able to rent the property to someone else at a higher monthly rent. A business renting a store might need to vacate for financial reasons. A tenant may need to move for a broad range of personal reasons. This generates questions about what is already listed in the lease agreement and the best steps forward in order to prevent future legal conflicts between the landlord and the tenant.

The best way to handle this situation between a landlord and tenant in New York is to draft a lease surrender agreement. This is a document outlining the plans for the lease to be broken. The original lease agreement is amended so that the rental term can end sooner than planned.

There are several key things to consider in drafting a lease surrender agreement. The first is that the date of surrender must be clear. While it should go without saying, the agreement might explain the conditions of the tenant leaving such as the policy for turning over keys and requirements that the property be left broom clean. One way to avoid move-out cleaning issues is to hire a professional cleaning service.

Another important issue is to address how much rent is due under this amended lease. In a typical surrender agreement, a New York landlord will give up the right to rent collection beyond the surrender date so long as the tenant actually leaves the premises.

Finally, consider the security deposit. The plans for this amount should be included in the lease surrender agreement. A landlord should be given the opportunity to inspect the premises after the tenant vacates in order to see whether any damage beyond normal wear and tear has occurred. The tenant’s attorney should be provided a list of damages within several days after this inspection. Any repairs made should have receipts attached as well. If there are no damages or if prompt notice is not given, the full amount of the security deposit should be provided to the tenant.

Having a lease surrender agreement is a great way to avoid confusion and future legal conflicts between a New York landlord and tenant who need to break the time conditions of a current lease. Contact a New York landlord/tenant attorney for more advice on your case.

The Landlord's Guide to Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines in New York

The security deposit can become one of the most contentious parts of a landlord/tenant relationship when it comes time to part ways. If proper guidelines are not followed, the landlord could be put in a precarious situation that gives the tenant a great deal of power and leeway.

The majority of leases in the state of New York require some form of security deposit, and it’s a good way for the landlord to have some financial assurance that he or she won’t be left to foot the entire bill if a tenant causes damages. The landlord gets to ask for a security deposit because it will help the landlord cover costs beyond normal wear and tear or the costs associated with a tenant that skips town without paying rent.

In order to get all the protections associated with a security deposit, it’s essential that a landlord follow the rules to a T. In New York, there’s no specific limit on what a landlord can charge as a security deposit if the unit is not regulated at the state level. There could be city and county laws, though, that limit what a landlord can reasonably ask for.

 Once the security deposit is collected, it should be stored in its own account by the landlord at a bank. As a landlord, you should provide notice to the tenant about the financial institution in which the deposit is held. Annually, the landlord is also responsible for paying interest on that deposit if the unit is not regulated and if the unit is in a building with six or more total units.

In the majority of conflicts, the security deposit becomes a problem when a tenant moves out. Under the state laws, a landlord is responsible for returning the security deposit in a reasonable timeframe. This is typically within 45 days maximum.

As a general guideline, a landlord should conduct a final walkthrough and make note of any issues that appear to extend beyond normal wear and tear. This written list can give the tenants notice about uses of the security deposit and may also come in handy later in the event that you need to go to court. If this happens, photos can also help support your case that serious damage has occurred, You should also keep copies of all receipts used for repairs related to damage causes by the tenants.

It’s a good idea to have your lease reviewed by an experienced New York landlord/tenant attorney and to contact your lawyer as soon as possible if you think you’ll be involved in a dispute over the security deposit.

Common Provisions Inside Rental Agreements

Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, the rental agreement is the key document by which your relationship is governed. On either side, it’s important to understand what the common provisions are inside these agreements and how they can impact you in the event that a conflict emerges. Here are the most common provisions included in a lease and what they mean. shutterstock_229433344

  • Personal basics like the names and addresses of the landlord and tenants. A property manager may also be listed, if applicable.
  • The actual details of the rental property, like where it’s located and whether any extras like a parking space, furnishings, or storage areas are also included with the property.
  • The actual amount of the rent, including when it is due and how it can be paid. In this portion of the lease, a late fee may also be referenced. Deposits and fees may also be referenced here, like the security deposit and fees related to extras like pets.
  • The length of the agreement. The terms of your lease are what determine how long tenants are approved to live in the unit, pending compliance with all other terms in the lease.
  • Responsibilities such as sewer, trash, and utilities. Depending on the kind of unit being rented, some or all of these may be covered by the landlord. You’re also likely to have a section involving responsibilities regarding repair and maintenance in addition to any procedures required to make a maintenance request.
  • Behavior limits, such as having guests not on the lease stay for long periods of time, or violating any laws while using the property.
  • Details about when and under what conditions a landlord can enter the unit itself. In the majority of locations, landlords are allowed to enter to make repairs or in the event of an emergency, but it’s important to ensure that the stipulations in the lease are actually legal.
  • Property use restrictions: Landlords may try to add language related to how tenants use the property and who is allowed to stay inside. The landlord can typically set any kind of restrictions here so long as it does not discriminate based on state and federal laws.
  • Grounds for termination of the lease, like violations of the terms included inside.
  • Preferred methods for handling disputes: Some leases will outline that you need to try mediation or that a party can take legal action in certain situations.

In order for the wording of a lease to be meaningful, it must not violate any existing laws.

A New York Landlord’s Indisputable Rights

While the optimal landlord-tenant relationship is predicated on mutual respect for one another and the property that connects the parties, this ideal scenario isn’t always the reality.  Unfortunately, tensions can arise when either one or both parties fail to abide by rules that dictate the business of real estate rental.  In the discussion of the specialized area of landlord-tenant law and who is authorized to do what, the dialog largely centers on tenants to ensure their protection and fair treatment.  Despite this dominant focus, equal attention must also be paid to landlords whose livelihood depends on their ability to skillfully and professionally oversee rental transactions.  Like their tenants, New York landlords must understand both the laws that protects their well-being and what strategies to employ to ensure compliance with them.  An experienced attorney who is highly knowledgeable of the many complexities of New York landlord-tenant law is undoubtedly the most knowledgeable source of information for a landlord who wants to understand his indisputable rights.


Why Renting in New York is Unique


What’s often considered the status quo in residential rentals isn’t necessarily the norm in New York.  For example, the state’s high-cost of living has given way to rent control and rent stabilization regulations to ensure that individuals and families can afford to reside comfortably in it.  Landlords and tenants are each responsible for fulfilling the guidelines of these programs in properties regulated by them.  The eligibility requirements and terms of rent control and rent stabilization differ, so those looking for regulated housing must familiarize themselves with these conditions.  Both of these rental programs operate in Long Island municipalities.


Rent control


Rent control applies to residential buildings constructed before February 1947 in 51 New York municipalities that have yet to declare an end to the post-World War II housing crisis during which the country faced a residential property shortage.   The state of New York operates the oldest rent control program in the U.S., which limits the price a tenant can be charged for rent and specifies the services that a landlord must provide. Apartments in multi-unit buildings that are eligible for rent control must have either the same tenant or the tenant’s lawful successor, e.g., a family member, as a continuous resident since July 1, 1971.  These units become either rent stabilized once the residency is discontinued or deregulated if the building houses fewer than six units.  Apartments in either a one- or two-family house must have either the same tenant or the tenant’s lawful successor as a continuous resident since April 1, 1953.  These apartments are typically deregulated once residency is discontinued.


Rent stabilization


Alternatively, rent stabilized apartments are found in buildings constructed between February 1, 1947 and January 1, 1974 with either six or more units.  Tenants in buildings constructed before February 1, 1947 that feature either six or more units and who moved in after June 30, 1971 are also protected by rent stabilization laws.  Like rent control, rent stabilization specifies a maximum rental rate (and maximum annual rental increase) as well as entitles tenants to required services.


How an attorney can help


As these explanations of New York’s rental programs make clear, rent control and rent stabilization are just two regulations that uniquely position the state in discussions on landlord-tenant law. Furthermore, they contribute to the array of challenges a landlord could likely be expected to navigate when exercising his rights.  An attorney who understands landlord-tenant law specifically as it applies in New York can ultimately ensure that those rights are safeguarded.


What a Landlord Should Expect


A landlord should expect a tenant to remit payment for the property in which he resides in accordance with the dollar amount specified in either the rental agreement or lease he signed.  He should also expect that the property will be maintained at the same standard in which it was rented.   In addition, the signed rental agreement or lease should entitle a landlord to receive any required late fees assessed for tardy rent payments, explain how property repairs will be addressed and discuss the reasons for a possible security deposit deduction upon a tenant’s departure.  The rental agreement or lease protects a landlord and is intended to help avoid subsequent litigation once a tenant assumes occupancy.


Rental agreement v. lease


To be clear, a rental agreement and a lease differ.  The former generally establishes tenancy for a short period of time, e.g., one month, and can be automatically renewed as per both parties’ agreement; however, the terms and conditions, e.g., the rental amount, may change ongoing.  The latter typically obligates both parties to a longer period of time, e.g., one year, after which the lease can be renewed, renegotiated or declined.


The Right to Evict and the Importance of Legal Counsel


Removing a tenant from a rental property can be as difficult as it is anxiety-ridden whether the property is regulated or unregulated.  The two most common reasons that a landlord seeks to evict a tenant are failure to pay rent and refusal to vacate the premises once either the rental agreement or lease has ended.  A decision to handle eviction proceedings can present unexpected challenges and even cause legal setbacks if a landlord attempts to do so himself.  A consummate attorney can accept the onus of a tenant eviction even as he ensures that the process abides by New York laws.


Nonpayment Summary Proceeding


Not surprisingly, a landlord’s decision to evict a tenant is frequently the result of nonpayment of rent.  To collect these funds, he must first take a non-litigious approach verbally and/or in writing to demand the money owed.  A tenant’s failure to pay rent after verbal demand permits a landlord the right to file an eviction proceeding immediately; a written demand (which someone other than a landlord must present to a tenant) permits a tenant three days to pay before a landlord files a lawsuit to remove him from the premises.  This eviction proceeding, called a Nonpayment Summary Proceeding, is discussed under the New York State Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law, Section 711 (2), which says:


The tenant has defaulted in the payment of rent, pursuant to the agreement under which the premises are held, and a demand of the rent has been made, or at least three days’ notice in writing requiring, in the alternative, the payment of the rent, or the possession of the premises, has been served upon him.


According to the New York State Unified Court System for landlords doing business outside of New York City like in Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk Counties, a landlord should only file a Nonpayment Summary Proceeding when he wants to exercise his right to evict a tenant.  If a landlord wishes to file a lawsuit to receive either unpaid rent or funds to repair damages that a tenant caused to a rental property but doesn’t wish to evict a tenant, then this is not the appropriate lawsuit to file.  An acceptance of a partial rent payment toward the total owed requires a landlord to make a new demand for the correct amount before he files a Nonpayment Summary Proceeding.  If a tenant remits all of the rent owed, then a landlord can’t file a Nonpayment Summary Proceeding.


An attorney can draft and file the two required court forms – (1) Notice of Petition: Nonpayment Proceeding and (2) Nonpayment Petition to Recover Possession of Real Property – to begin a Nonpayment Summary Proceeding on a landlord’s behalf after a tenant fails to meet his demand.  Improperly filing and/or serving a Notice of Petition and Nonpayment Petition can be costly and time-consuming, many times resulting in both the court’s dismissal of the case and a landlord’s need to start the process again.  Experienced legal counsel can ensure that these documents are correctly drafted and promptly filed to avoid additional financial loss.  A skilled attorney will also make certain a tenant is properly served by an experienced process server since, as when making a written demand for payment, a landlord can’t do so himself.  A Notice of Petition and Nonpayment Petition can be served through personal delivery, to a tenant substitute who may answer the door at his residence or by what’s called “nail and mail” in which the documents are either affixed to or slid under the rental residence door as well as sent via both regular and certified mail.


A landlord who files this lawsuit, referred to as the Petitioner, and his tenant, referred to as the Respondent, must appear in court in compliance with the date and time specified in the Notice of Petition.  The Petitioner’s failure to show could result in his lawsuit’s dismissal.  If the Petitioner appears but the Respondent doesn’t, then a default judgment for a Warrant of Eviction will likely be awarded in a landlord’s favor.  This judgment usually grants a landlord what he has requested if the court believes that a tenant was properly served and provided notice of the court date.


If both parties appear in court, then they are encouraged to try to settle the case and to reach an agreement outside of the court’s dictate; doing so requires that both sign a Stipulation of Settlement and present it to a judge. A Stipulation of Settlement, which a judge also signs, is a legally binding agreement that states that the parties will settle as the result of their mutually agreeable negotiation.  The court may also assign a mediator to the case rather than a judge to help the parties arrive at mutually consensual terms.


In those instances in which a landlord and tenant can’t reach a negotiation, the Petitioner will be required to present his evidence and to prove his case before a judge.  Evidence can include rental receipts, either the rental agreement or lease, and photographs of the property as well as witnesses.  An attorney is well able to assume this responsibility on his behalf, including the rebuttal of any defense the Respondent argues.


If a judge rules in a landlord’s favor, then he will have the right to remove the Respondent from the property and to reclaim possession of it.  The court may also mandate that a tenant pay some, if not all, of the rent owed.  A landlord must obtain a Warrant of Eviction from the court so that a sheriff, marshal, constable or other enforcement officer can remove the Respondent from the residence.  A landlord can’t evict a tenant himself and the eviction can’t occur until after 72 hours have passed following a tenant’s receipt of written notification of his eviction.


If a judge also requires a tenant to remit some type of monetary compensation to a landlord, then a landlord must first file this judgment with the municipal clerk and obtain an execution judgment prior to presenting the Warrant of Eviction to the enforcement officer.


A landlord must be aware that a tenant may seek to oppose the court’s ruling.  Common strategies include filing an Order to Show Cause, which requests that a judge re-open the case after a ruling in a landlord’s favor, or seeking an appeal to contest the court’s decision.  While these actions are within a tenant’s rights, an attorney can protect a landlord’s rights by working to uphold the judge’s decision in his favor.


Holdover Summary Proceeding


While a landlord might certainly want to exercise his legal rights when nonpayment of rent is an issue, his reasons for seeking a tenant’s eviction may be due to other concerns.  In particular, he may want to remove a tenant if the individual continues to reside at the property after either his rental agreement or lease has expired, i.e., after his right to occupy the residence has ended.  A landlord must first take a non-litigious approach by issuing a Notice to Terminate verbally and/or in writing.  A tenant’s failure to leave the rental property within one full rental property following the date he received the Notice to Terminate permits a landlord to file a lawsuit to remove him from the premises.  This eviction proceeding, called a Holdover Summary Proceeding, is discussed under the New York State Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law, Section 711 (1), which says:


The tenant continues in possession of any portion of the premises after the expiration of his term, without the permission of the landlord or, in a case where a new lessee is entitled to possession, without the permission of the new lessee.


A landlord may immediately begin a Holdover Summary Proceeding if a tenant doesn’t vacate the premises unless the terms of either the rental agreement or lease mandate that he receive additional notice before being required to leave.


(In addition, a Holdover Summary Proceeding can be enacted to remove non-tenants in instances in which no landlord-tenant relationship exists pursuant to New York State Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law, Section 713.  In these instances, occupants might include squatters, illegal subletters or previous owners prior to a foreclosure sale.)


As is true for a Nonpayment Summary Proceeding, the New York State Unified Court System specifies that a landlord doing business outside of New York City like in Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk Counties should only file a Holdover Summary Proceeding when he wants to evict a tenant.  An acceptance of either partial or full rental payment enables a judge to decide if a new agreement or lease has taken effect, which could result in the lawsuit’s dismissal.


A knowledgeable attorney can draft and file the two required court forms – (1) Notice of Petition – Holdover and (2) Holdover Petition to Recover Possession of Real Property – to begin a Holdover Summary Proceeding on a landlord’s behalf after a tenant fails to leave the residence.  Improperly filing and/or serving a Notice of Petition and Holdover Petition may cause the court’s dismissal of the lawsuit and require a landlord to start the process again.  An experienced legal advisor will accurately draft and file these documents as well as ensure that they are properly served.


A landlord and tenant must appear in court in compliance with the date and time specified in the Notice of Petition.  The Petitioner’s failure to show could result in his lawsuit’s dismissal.  If the Petitioner appears but the Respondent doesn’t, then a default judgment for a Warrant of Eviction will likely be awarded in the Petitioner’s favor.  This judgment usually grants a landlord what he has requested if the court believes that a tenant was properly served and provided notice of the court date.


If both the Petitioner and Respondent appear in court, then they will be encouraged to reach a settlement before a judge intervenes.  The court may also assign a mediator to the case.  If the parties fail to reach a consensus, then a judge will decide the lawsuit.  At this time, the Petitioner may present evidence to validate his claim while the Respondent may present a defense to argue against it.  An attorney can cogently present a landlord’s argument for him.


If a judge rules in a landlord’s favor, then he will have the right to remove the Respondent from the property and to reclaim possession of it.  A landlord must obtain a Warrant of Eviction from the court so that an enforcement officer can remove him from the residence.  A landlord can’t evict a tenant himself and the eviction can’t occur until after 72 hours have passed following a tenant’s receipt of written notification of his eviction.


Like in a Nonpayment Summary Proceeding, a tenant may opt to file an Order to Show Cause to request that a judge re-open the case following a ruling in a landlord’s favor.  He may also seek an appeal to contest the court’s decision.  Again, a knowledgeable attorney can handle these matters on a landlord’s behalf.


Additional Rights: Entering and Vetting


Although a landlord may suspect damage to the rental property and wish to enter it to confirm its condition before a tenant moves, he doesn’t have the right to do so without permission.  While a landlord does have the right to enter a rental residence without a tenant’s consent in instances that require immediate attention, e.g., damaged pipes, only specific conditions in either the rental agreement or lease would otherwise grant him the right to enter without permission.


A landlord can avoid many of the pitfalls in which he might find himself if he thoroughly vets a potential tenant.  A landlord has the right to ask the hard questions to assess a prospective renter, like his rental history and proof thereof as well as the contact information for previous landlords.  In addition, a landlord can request copies of the individual’s driver’s license and recent paycheck stubs as well as require a credit check.  He should also learn how many people will reside in the rental property, if the individual has pets and if he smokes.  Acquiring this information before the landlord-tenant relationship begins can save both parties unnecessary stress and tension.


These rules about entering and vetting apply to all rental properties, whether they are regulated or unregulated.


Closing Thoughts


If and when the landlord-tenant relationship becomes strained, an attorney who possesses expertise in this special area of the law can help resolve matters as expeditiously as possible.  This kind of skilled guidance and counsel can alleviate the burden a landlord would otherwise incur and reassure him that his best interest is always of primary concern.  Landlord-tenant law protects a landlord’s rights, too, so retaining an attorney who understands it can prove invaluable.

What Landlords in NY Need to Know About Section 8 Tenants

Section 8 is used to refer to the Housing Choice Voucher Program that provides low-income families with funding support so that those families can access affordable housing. New York families who qualify are eligible to choose the neighborhood they would like to live in. Vouchers are then provided to them to help pay by using a percentage of their income towards rent. The amount of rent left over is paid by the Section 8 Program. The funds come from the federal government so that low-income families in New York are able to find housing within their means.

One of the most common questions that landlords have about Section 8 tenants is whether there are circumstances when a landlord can terminate the individual. A family might receive a Pre-Termination Notice of Section 8 Non-Compliance if they have failed to meet family obligations on their Housing Choice Voucher. This notification gives the tenants the opportunity to fix the issue or contest the termination through an informal hearing. A landlord in New York can only evict a Section 8 tenant through court action.

There are many other questions that might come up as a result of working with Section 8 tenants, such as what happens when there are unpaid rent amounts due or damages to the property. This responsibility falls on the tenants as part of their obligations to receive the housing vouchers. If the family doesn’t pay rent or if a tenant has caused damages, this can be grounds for a landlord to evict the family. The family will also be terminated from the Section 8 housing program if these issues arise. If your tenant has left the premises but left belongings behind, it’s strongly recommended that you contact a New York landlord/tenant attorney.

A landlord can begin eviction proceedings against a Section 8 tenant when that tenant has failed to comply with the lease agreement. A Certification of Basis for Eviction must be submitted to the housing authority and the tenant in order to initiate these proceedings.

A final common questions for landlords has to do with raising rent when leases are renewed for Section 8 tenants. A landlord can request an increase in the rent following the expiration of the current lease. The housing authority will evaluate this increase to determine whether it is reasonable. In order to benefit from this, a landlord must submit the rental increase request a minimum of 60 days before the renewal lease is set to take effect.

Fast Facts on NY Squatter's Rights

New York City has a reputation around the country for having laws that are strongly pro-tenant, even in the case of squatters. While this has certainly led to its fair share of strange news stories, landlords should always be aware of what they can and can’t realistically do when there is a squatter on their premises. stop eviction

In New York, the key term to be familiar with is “adverse possession”. Property ownership can actually be obtained by an occur who has open, exclusive, actual, hostile, and notorious possession for a period of time. A landlord or owner of property must act carefully if he or she discovers a squatter, because failing to do so can actually make it more difficult to remove the squatter from the premises. The standard for determining whether a squatter has established adverse possession is usually 10 years.

If the squatter has only been there for a short period of time, but long enough to have entrenched himself or herself on the property, the squatter can be classified as an “at will” tenant. The landlord can only effectively try to remove the individual with a 30 day written notice to terminate. After this period has passed, the landlord can issue a 3 day “not to quit” followed by a petition with the housing court for an eviction order. Only after receiving this eviction order can the landlord official evict the tenant from the property using the sheriff. Many squatters are familiar with the squatter-friendly laws in New York and know that eviction proceedings take time. Some are simply willing to wait it out or banking on the landlord trying to take things into their own hands.

If a landlord attempts to lock a squatter out of the premises by changing the locks without having legal permission to evict through court proceedings, technically the landlord could be held liable for damages. One of the major reasons that landlords experience challenges with regard to squatters is a lack of understanding of New York’s unique squatter laws but also frequently not being able to provide names of the individual allegedly not allowed to be on the premises. If a squatter has established himself or herself within a property for more than 30 days, a landlord should contact an experienced New York City landlord tenant’s rights attorney before taking any other action.

It’s not a good idea to try to evict a squatter without following the proper protocol. Contact a New York landlord tenant attorney to get insight on your case and the next steps you should take if you have a squatter.


What Are My Options If the Tenant Doesn't Pay?

Before landlord can initiate a nonpayment summary proceeding in the state of New York, the landlord must officially ask the tenant to pay the rent that is past due. This is referred to as the landlord’s demand for the rent. As a landlord, you have the opportunity to use two different options to put forth your official demand for past-due rent.

Your first option is to use an oral demand. This involves speaking with the nonpaying tenants in person to ask for the past-due rent. If you have given the tenant an oral demand for the payment and still have not received what you are owed, you can initiate the nonpayment summary proceeding right away.

Another option is the written demand. This is an official written notification telling the tenant that he or she either needs to pay the rent or leave the rental property. You are not allowed to deliver a written demand to the tenant yourself, so using a written demand can be more complicated than an oral demand. Under the guidelines of a written demand, the tenant has three days in which to pay the rent after they have been notified. If you have waited the three-day period and the tenant has still not come forward with the money you are owed, you may initiate the nonpayment summary proceeding.

Bear in mind that if you accept a partial payment for rent after you have made a demand to the tenant, you would need to initiate a new demand for the remaining amount due before initiating a non-payment summary proceeding. If you have followed the legal guidelines for demanding rent from the nonpaying tenant to no avail, you’ll need to file to court forms in order to start the nonpayment proceeding. The first is known as a notice of petition and the second is a nonpayment petition to recover the possession of property. Once you pay the filing fee for these papers and receive an index number from the clerk of courts, a date will be assigned in order for your case to be heard. The next stage of your case is to deliver the court papers to the tenant. It’s advisable to work with a Long Island landlord tenant attorney to ensure compliance.

There are three ways that you can serve your court papers to the tenant, and these are the same ways in which a written demand must be submitted. You cannot submit these papers yourself, although you can use personal delivery by having another individual pass the papers to the tenant personally. You may also use what is known as substituted service, where a person tries to serve the tenant home but another individual answers the door, so long as that person lives in the apartment and is of an appropriate age to take the court papers. Finally, if you have been unsuccessful with personal delivery using another individual, you can initiate conspicuous place service. After two attempts of personal delivery, you may attach the papers to the door of the residence or slide them underneath. Having issues? Call a Long Island Landlord Tenant Attorney, Neil Weissman today for a FREE consultation.

What Are Common Reasons to Initiate a Holdover Proceeding Case?

In Suffolk and Nassau Counties, lawsuits between tenants and landlords are calling Special Proceedings. One of the most common types of cases between landlords and tenants has to do with holdovers. In a holdover proceeding, the landlord can bring an action against the tenant if the tenant has continued to remain on the premises past the lease or rental expiration date. A landlord might pursue this kind of case if he or she is trying to evict you for reasons outside of nonpayment of rent. These cases can get complex very quickly, which is why it’s essential to get a New York landlord-tenant lawyer as soon as possible.

There are several common reasons that a holdover proceeding might be initiated. Your Garden City landlord must tell the court why he or she wishes to have you evicted, and the reasons for doing so should also be listed on the holdover petition. Common reasons may include:

  • Situations where the lease is expired and you are not entitled to a lease renewal and the landlord wants you to leave the property
  • You are a month-to-month tenant with no specified protection under a rental contract and the landlord wants you to leave the property
  • You, a family member, or a guest has been accused of involvement in criminal activity or have been a public nuisance
  • You have allegedly denied the landlord reasonable access to your apartment, such as in emergency situations or in the landlord’s attempt to make repairs
  • You allegedly violated the terms of your lease
  • The landlord claims that you meet the legal definition as a squatter by coming into the apartment without the owner’s permission or came into the apartment without the landlord’s permission

Before the holdover proceeding starts, you should receive some kind of notification. If you are being accused of being a licensee or squatter, you’ll receive a 10 day notice to quit. If you are a tenant paying rent without a lease or if you live in unregulated housing with an unexpired lease, you’ll likely receive a 30 day notice to terminate. Included in this notice should be the reasoning for the landlord’s attempt to evict you. If the lease has expired and the landlord has not collected any additional rent, however, the holdover petition can be served without any other notices. If you’ve been served with a notice from your landlord regarding holdover, get advice today by calling (516) 228-3200.

Stop and Frisk: A Closer Look | Long Island Criminal Attorney

Chicago police making an arrest in public.

Chicago police making an arrest in public. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many of us have a bad habit of jumping to conclusions before we have all the facts. In the courtroom this habit has led to the conviction of innocent people, and on the streets it has prompted police officers to arrest people that were doing nothing wrong. But let’s talk about ourselves for a moment. Can you clearly articulate what the New York “stop and frisk” policy is?

Judging from public perception and representation in the media, you might assume that it means a police officer is allowed to detain and frisk any person, at any time, for any reason (or no good reason at all). That is not the case, and it takes more than just the title of the policy to explain the important details.

The “Stop” Part

An officer can’t confront someone under the policy without a reason. The reason doesn’t have to be as solid as “probable cause,” which is necessary to make an arrest. But if a police officer can show that the circumstances suggested that a crime was in progress or about to begin, the stop will probably stand up in court. For example, if a police officer sees a young man with a hat pulled down over his eyes following a woman into an alley, he would be justified in stopping the young man under “stop and frisk.”

The “Frisk” Part

Usually, frisking is intended to find out if there are weapons hidden on a person. However, police may also make an arrest if they discover drugs or stolen items on the individual—even if they didn’t have any reason to suspect that they would find them. Remember that the frisk has to be valid in the first place; that is, the police must have had some legitimate reason to stop and search the person.

The Details

Of course, in real life, the New York “stop and frisk” policy is quite complex. One officer’s idea of reasonable suspicion is different from another’s. Research shows that only 12 percent of stops under the policy lead to arrests, and not all of those arrests lead to convictions.

One of the biggest controversies over the New York “stop and frisk” policy is a significant racial divide. Far more black and Hispanic individuals get stopped than white ones, even in areas where whites outnumber minorities.

If you are facing prosecution after a stop and frisk, you need professional legal help as quickly as possible. At the law firm of Neil Weissman, we want to help you. Call a Long Island Criminal Attorney today for a consultation that will cost you nothing.

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Source: Old NY Criminal ESQ