The most common reason landlords evict tenants is for failing to pay rent. In New York, a landlord can begin taking steps toward eviction as soon as a tenant fails to pay rent on time.
Please keep in mind that eviction laws will vary throughout the state of New York, depending on whether the rental property is located inside New York City and whether the property is covered by a state or local rent regulation. This article will provide general information on how to evict a tenant who fails to pay rent within the state of New York. For more detailed information, please see the resources below or speak with an attorney.
Rent is almost always due on the first day of the month, regardless of whether the first is a weekend or holiday. It is important to remember that the landlord and the tenant can agree to different terms, but those terms must be in writing and be part of the lease. The landlord and tenant will both be required to follow whatever terms are set forth in the lease. For example, the landlord could agree to give the tenant a grace period, meaning the landlord will not charge the tenant a late fee or take steps toward eviction for a set number of days after rent is due. The tenant would have then have that time to pay rent without a penalty.
Landlords who do not receive payment for rent within five days of the due date must send the tenant (via certified mail) a written notice stating that they have not received the rent. If a landlord fails to provide this written notice, the tenant can use the failure as a defense against an eviction suit for nonpayment of rent. (N.Y. Real Prop. Law § 235-e(d).)
To begin the eviction process, the landlord must give the tenant a written demand to either pay the rent in full or move out of the rental unit within 14 days. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit or pay rent within that period, the landlord can then file an eviction lawsuit with the court. (N.Y. Real Prop. Acts. Law § 711(2).)
The notice period is calculated in calendar days. (N.Y. Gen. Constr. Law § 20.)
The demand for rent must be written, and it must include the following information:
A landlord has two options when giving a tenant a demand for rent.
(N.Y. Real Prop. Acts. Law §§ 711, 735.)
A tenant can respond in a variety of ways after being given a demand for rent.
To begin the eviction lawsuit for nonpayment of rent, the landlord must file a petition with the district court or housing court of the county in which the rental unit is located. The court will assign a date for a hearing before a judge, and the tenant will be notified of the proceedings. At the hearing, the judge will listen to both the landlord and the tenant and make a ruling regarding the eviction. If the landlord is successful, the court will issue a warrant of non-payment, which will give the sheriff the authority to remove the tenant and the tenant's possessions from the rental unit. However, if the tenant offers the unpaid rent to the landlord at any time before the court hearing on the eviction, the landlord must accept the offer and the eviction lawsuit will be dismissed.
The New York court system has a Small Property Owner Nonpayment Petition Program, which will help small rental property owners who are not represented by legal counsel to draft the paperwork needed to evict a tenant. There is a separate program for landlords who live inside New York City.
The only way a landlord can legally evict a tenant is by successfully winning an eviction lawsuit in court. It is illegal for a landlord to attempt to remove a tenant from a rental unit through any other means, such as changing the locks on the doors or shutting off the utilities to the rental unit. This type of action is often referred to as a "self-help" eviction, and if the landlord attempts this, the tenant can sue the landlord for damages. (N.Y. Real Prop. Law § 235 and N.Y. Real Prop. Acts. Law § 853.)
There are many resources throughout the state of New York for landlord-tenant relations, including the New York State Homes and Community Renewal website. The New York court system also has very helpful information through its online self-help center. The local housing court for Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island has also published a booklet with information related to landlord-tenant relations and the housing court.
Nolo also has many other articles on landlord-tenant relations in New York, including tenant defenses to evictions in New York. The New York charts in the State Landlord-Tenant Laws section of the Nolo website also have useful information. For more eviction articles, see the Evicting a Tenant or Ending a Lease section of Nolo.