Renting in New York can be a convenient way to live without having to worry about the expenses and upkeep that goes along with owning a home. However, there are times when there could be a dispute between landlord and tenant that leads to an attempted eviction. Understanding what constitutes an illegal eviction and what eviction protection a tenant is accorded under the law is imperative when there is a dispute.
If a tenant has a lease, there is protection from eviction while the lease is in effect if the tenant has not violated it, housing codes or laws. Whether the apartment is regulated or unregulated, there must be formal notice from the landlord as to the decision to evict the tenant. If the tenant does not vacate by the required date, the landlord has two options to pursue eviction. First, there can be a summary non-payment court proceeding to remove a tenant who has not paid the rent that was agreed upon when it was due and for the landlord to receive the outstanding rent. Second, there can be a summary holdover proceeding to evict a tenant if there has been a significant violation like using the property for illegal activities or the tenant staying beyond the terms of the lease without approval.
If it is an apartment that has a regulated rent, the landlord might need to receive approval from the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) prior to moving forward with a court case if, as an example, it is a situation in which the owner plans to demolish the building. If the eviction is because the tenant has not paid the rent, is causing problems, has done damage or some other act in violation, the case can be brought straight to court. The tenant cannot be evicted after there was a court proceeding and a judgement of possession was given. The landlord is not legally able to remove the tenant by force. This must be done by a marshal, sheriff or some other person who is legally allowed to do so. If a landlord removes a tenant by force or in an illegal manner, the tenant can sue for triple damages.
When a tenant is facing eviction, it is important to understand what the landlord is legally allowed to do. Since landlord/tenant disputes can be so complicated and difficult, those who are dealing with them should make sure they are protected under the law with help from an experienced attorney.
Source: ag.ny.gov, "Tenants' Rights Guide -- Eviction, pages 16-17," accessed on March 30, 2017