Rigths as a tenant (part III)

LANDLORD-TENANT RELATIONSHIP. DO I HAVE ANY RIGHTS IF I AM THE TENANT? (PART III)

Yes, you do. This is the last article discussing tenants’ rights. I have talked about the lease, lease terms, renewals, termination notices, the rent, overcharge, etc. In this article, I will discuss the eviction process.

Eviction is the removal of a tenant from rental property by the landlord. In some jurisdictions it may also involve the removal of persons from premises that were foreclosed by a mortgagee (often, the prior owners who defaulted on a mortgage).

A tenant with a lease has a right against eviction during the lease period so long as the tenant does not violate any substantial provision of the lease or any local housing laws or codes. Landlords must give formal notice of their intention to obtain legal possession of the apartment.

Unless the tenant vacates the premises by a specified date, the landlord may commence eviction proceedings through: (a) a summary non-payment court proceeding to evict a tenant who fails to pay the agreed rent when due and to recover outstanding rent, or (b) a summary holdover proceeding for eviction if a tenant significantly violates a substantial obligation under the lease (such as using the premises for illegal purposes, or committing or permitting a nuisance) or stays beyond the lease term without permission. Please see Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (hereinafter referred to as RPAPL) § 711.

A tenant can be legally evicted only after the landlord has brought a court proceeding and has obtained a judgment of possession. You should keep in mind that a tenant should never ignore legal papers; an eviction notice can still be sent if a tenant did not appear in court to answer court papers (petition) sent by the landlord.

Only a sheriff, marshal or constable can carry out a court-ordered warrant to evict a tenant. Landlords may not take the law into their own hands and evict a tenant by use of force or unlawful means. For example, a landlord cannot use threats of violence, remove a tenant’s possessions, lock the tenant out of the apartment, or willfully discontinue essential services such as water or heat.

When a tenant is evicted, the landlord may not retain the tenant’s personal belongings or furniture. The landlord must give the tenant a reasonable amount of time to remove all belongings. Please see RPAPL §749; Real Property Law § 235.

A tenant who is evicted from an apartment in a forcible or unlawful manner is entitled to recover triple damages in a legal action against the landlord.. Further, the tenant may be entitled to be restored to occupancy. Please see RPAPL § 853.

You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about legal rights. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with a landlord-tenant relationship.

If you have any questions or concerns about any legal issue, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at joseperez@joseperezyourlawyer.com. The Law Office of Jose Perez is located at 120 East Washington Street, Suite 925, Syracuse, New York 13202. Please look for my next article in the July edition.

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