New York eviction laws may vary from district to district in terms of court procedures and fees. Other than that, they all follow the same general eviction process:
No eviction process is the same. One of the factors that affects the entire process is the lease/rental agreement. Landlords should stick by the rules to increase their odds of winning an eviction case.
This article details a summary for landlords to refer to when evicting a tenant. Make sure to confirm procedures with your district to avoid mistakes and confusion.
1. Failure to pay rent on time
Rent in New York is considered late a day past its due date. The lease/rental agreement may state a longer grace period.
Before a landlord can try to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent, they are required to send a letter to the tenant via certified mail (not e-mail).
This letter must be sent at least five days past the due date to inform the tenant that the landlord has not received rent yet.
If the tenant confirms that rent is still unpaid or does not reply, the landlord may proceed with a written 14-Day Notice to Pay to begin the eviction process.
In the case that the tenant pays the rent or moves out of the property within fourteen days, then the eviction process does not continue.
If they still haven’t paid rent and continue living in the property by the end of the fourteen days, the landlord can continue with the eviction lawsuit.
In the state of New York, landlords may charge a late fee for the late payment of rent. They may only do so after the statewide grace period of five days.
The lease/rental agreement should say that any late rent payments will result in a late fee. Late fees should not go beyond $50 or 5% of the rent, whichever is less.
A clearer example is detailed below:
2. Violation of the lease/rental agreement
The rental/lease agreement has to be upheld by both the tenant and landlord for the entire duration of the tenant’s stay. Agreements may vary from tenant to tenant.
If the tenant violates any terms from the rental/lease agreement, the landlord must issue a 10-Day Notice to Comply. If the tenant resolves the issues on time, the eviction process does not continue.
Lease violations may include:
- Damaging rental property
- Repeated public disturbances
- Smoking in non-smoking areas
- Keeping pets in pet-free properties, etc.
If the tenant fails to resolve the violations after the initial ten days, the landlord must give them a second notice called a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
The tenant can no longer resolve the violations and must vacate the property. This notice informs them of the end of their lease/rental agreement.
If the tenant continues living in the rental property after thirty days, the eviction process continues.
3. Conducting illegal activity
In New York, if a tenant has engaged in illegal behavior within the property, the landlord is not obliged to give them a written notice. The landlord can proceed with the eviction process immediately.
Examples of illegal activities are:
- Involvement in the creation, distribution, or consumption of illegal drugs
- Domestic abuse
Whether the tenants correct the violation or not, they are not allowed to stay in the property once the court makes a decision.
Landlords are advised to keep a close eye on their tenants to make sure illegal behavior does not go unnoticed.
4. Non-renewal of the lease after the rental period ends
In New York, landlords cannot evict a tenant or force them to vacate the property without probable cause. As long as the tenant does not violate any rules, they can stay until their rental period ends:
But if the landlord wishes to terminate their lease without probable cause or does not wish to renew the lease, then they need to provide written notice. The notice a tenant receives depends on the length of their lease and how long they’ve stayed on the property.
If the tenant does not leave the property by the time the notice period is over, the landlord may continue with the eviction process.
Filing a Complaint
1. How to File a Complaint
The eviction process can only begin after the issuance of the written notice. The landlord must have allowed enough time to pass before beginning to file for eviction.
The eviction process is as follows:
- Proceed to the justice court in the city of the rental property
- File a Petition and Notice of Petition and include copies of the following: Notice to Quit, the lease/rental agreement, and proof/documentation that supports the petition
- Pay the court fees
Fees will vary depending on the kind of eviction case, the location of the rental property, and the justice court where the Petition and Notice of Petition were filed.
It takes about 14 to 90 days from the issuance of the Notice to Vacate, depending on the reason for eviction and the lease agreement.
Serving the Tenant
1. How to Serve a Tenant
A copy of the Notice of Petition and Petition is served to the tenant. It must be served 10-17 days before the hearing.
There are several methods to accomplish this:
- Personal Service - The court official delivers a copy of the Notice of Petition and Petition to the tenant in person
- Substituted Service - If the tenant is unavailable, someone living with the tenant who is over the age of 18 may receive the documents
- Posting- The server leaves a copy of the documents in a secure and visible place by the entrance of the property
When using the Substituted Service or Posting method, the server has the additional responsibility of mailing the documents via first-class mail AND via registered/certified mail.
Landlords are not allowed to serve the documents to the tenant themselves. They have to ask someone uninvolved in the case to do it for them.
There are specific requirements for choosing the person who will serve the documents to the tenant.
- They must be a Professional Process Server or an adult
- The person must not have served on behalf of the landlord more than five times in one year
- They must be uninvolved with the case
2. After Serving the Summons and Complaint
The tenant has 10-17 days to prepare for the hearing. A response or reply is not required unless the eviction is about the nonpayment of rent.
If the case is about the nonpayment of rent, the tenant has to send a reply within 10 days. A hearing is scheduled 3-8 days after the court receives the tenant’s reply.
Failure to respond on time may result in the landlord winning the case. But if the tenant pays their rent in full before the hearing, the eviction process is discontinued.
The documents should be served to the tenant at least 10 days before the hearing is scheduled.
If the case is about nonpayment of rent, the tenant must send a reply within 10 days, and a hearing is scheduled 3-8 days after the court receives the reply.
Either the tenant or landlord may request to postpone the trial for AT LEAST 14 days.
Asking for Possession
1. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgement and get a Judgement for Possession
The landlord has to provide a strong argument backed up by solid evidence against the tenant. If the landlord fails to show up to the hearing, the entire case is thrown out.
In the case that the tenant does not show up to the hearing, the landlord wins by default. If the landlord wins the case, they can request a Writ of Execution immediately after the judgment is passed.
2. Next procedure if the tenant disagreed and replied
In the state of New York, a reply from the tenant is not necessary for a court date to be scheduled. They only have to show up to the hearing.
An exemption to this rule is if the eviction is about the nonpayment of rent. The process for that is outlined above in “After Serving the Summons or Complaint.”
If the tenant disagrees with the Petition, they must attend the hearing and provide sufficient evidence to contest the landlord’s claims.
Similarly, the landlord has the responsibility of providing evidence. The evidence they provide may include, but is not limited to:
- Copy of the deed and lease
- Rent receipts and ledgers
- Bank statements
- Photo and video documentation of the violations and correspondence, etc.
A hearing is scheduled 10-17 days after the documents are served to the tenant.
The Writ of Execution only takes a few hours to a few days to be issued.
1. After the landlord wins the case
Provided that the tenant does not appeal for reconsideration—which is a long and complicated process in the state of New York—a Writ of Execution is issued a few hours to a few days after the hearing.
Provided that there are no appeals for reconsideration, the Writ of Execution gives the tenant a maximum of 14 days to vacate the property.
2. Move out process
Tenants may receive a stay of execution from the court which gives them more time before they have to vacate the property.
The following are a few instances where a stay of execution is granted, allowing a prolonged stay of no more than one year:
- A child will be displaced from their school district
- A tenant has a serious, debilitating health condition
- Other family issues that will be decided on a case-by-case basis
If the tenant is evicted for a lease violation, the judge can grant them 30 days to correct the violation. In case they manage to correct the violation and inform the court in time, the eviction process does not continue.
If the tenant is being evicted for nonpayment of rent, they have 10 days to either move out or pay the rent. The eviction process is discontinued if the tenant is able to pay the rent.
If no stay of execution is granted, then the tenant has 14 days from the moment they receive the Writ of Execution to move out of the property.
After the 14 days are up, the tenant can then be forcibly removed from the property by the appropriate officials. It is usually a sheriff who does this.
The landlord is not allowed to force the tenant to move out.
If the tenant leaves behind any belongings, the landlord must contact the tenant and give them a reasonable timeframe to claim them. After the timeframe has passed, the landlord is allowed to sell or dispose of the tenant’s property.
New York Eviction Process Timeline
Below is the average timeline for a complete eviction process. This timeline may change depending on the complexities of the case.
On average, it would take anywhere between 35 days to more than 1 year for a complete eviction process.
1. How to keep good records
If the tenant disagrees with the eviction request and they reply to the court, it’s important that you keep extremely good records of everything so you can provide proof to the judge and win your case. This part can make or break your entire eviction request in the event of a dispute.
You can stay organized by:
- Keeping a physical paper trail - This can get very tricky to search through, takes up a lot of storage space, and could get lost, damaged, stolen, or burnt in a fire.
- Scanning documents - Use a scanner to store all documents on your computer. A great scanner is the Brother ADS-1700W for under $200 or the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 for $400.
- Backups - Store and backup every file using Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or any other option that is easily searchable.
- PMS - Use a property management software to save everything from lease agreements, signed documents, violations, emails, notes, invoices, payments, reminders, maintenance requests, pictures, videos, and anything you can imagine. This is used best when you also scan every document into your software.
2. Evidence to show for not paying rent
If the tenant doesn’t pay rent, and they dispute that claim, it’s important that you show the judge the following:
- Your lease agreement - Showing the terms of the agreement, when rent is due, and any penalties for late payment.
- All payments - Showing all previous payments, how they were normally made (check, credit card, ACH, etc…), and what date they were normally paid on. The date is important as it can be proof of late payments.
- Any payment returns - If their check bounced, their bank account had insufficient funds, or they did a chargeback dispute on their credit card, show this to the Judge. Also, you should provide show any fees your bank may have charged you, and any penalties you are owed according to your lease agreement.
- All messages - If you sent your tenant automated or manual payment reminders by text, email, a letter, or mail, it’s important to show this. While it’s usually not needed, it can be beneficial to prove that you made the tenant aware of the situation. This is why it’s always best to have everything in writing instead of any phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
3. Evidence to show for lease violations
If you are evicting the tenant for lease violations, for example, noise complaints, unauthorized pets, or property damages, it’s important to show proof from any of the following methods:
- Security Cameras - If you have a surveillance system that can show them committing the crime or lease violation, it’s safe to say you will normally win this dispute.
- Video - If you didn’t catch them in the act, a video taken from your phone can be sufficient to prove the violation.
- Pictures - They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, a picture could be worth thousands of dollars! Even if you take a video, it’s important to show the Judge any pictures too as it’s usually easier to see by email or printed.
- Lease Terms - Once again, show the court which term they violated in their lease agreement. Don’t worry if you don’t have every single term spelled out in your rental agreement. If the violation is bad enough, it might not be needed to have it written. As a good practice though, start adding all of the potential reasons to evict a tenant into your agreement.
Can I force a tenant to move out in New York?
No. A landlord could be sued for forceful eviction of a tenant if they skip the proper eviction processes.
In the state of New York, tenants can sue their landlord for the following amounts:
- Three times the actual damages
- Civil penalties ranging between $1,000 to $10,000
As another consequence of forceful eviction, the statute allows tenants the right to stay in the property.
Which eviction methods are considered illegal?
Self-help eviction is illegal. Examples of such acts include (but are not limited to):
- Cutting off the tenant’s electric, water, and/or heat supply
- Changing the locks to prevent the tenant from entering the property
- Vandalizing or destroying the tenant’s property
What are the potential penalties for a self-help eviction?
According to New York Civil Code, you may be liable for Tenant’s Court Costs & Attorneys’ Fees. The statute also gives the tenant the right to stay.
A tenant can sue you for actual damages plus violations. Tenants may ask for an injunction prohibiting any further violation during the court action.
What other NY laws should I be aware of?
Landlords should be aware of the changes made to the Eviction Policies in the state of New York. Especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is also wise for landlords to check out laws on Security Deposits. These deposits protect the landlord in case the tenants violate any terms in the lease/rental agreement or fail to pay their rent.
Other than that, tenants are protected by Rental Laws in the state of New York. Landlords should check out laws about raising rent prices, regulation of late fees, and the like.
- Eviction Notice: New York Eviction Notice Templates | NY Eviction Process
- FindLaw: New York Consolidated Laws, Real Property Actions, and Proceedings Law – RPA § 711. Grounds where a landlord-tenant relationship exists
- Investopedia: Writ of Execution
- LawHelp: Appeals and Motions for Reconsideration in Landlord-Tenant Cases
- LawNY: General Eviction Information for New York
- NOLO: Handling a Tenant’s Abandoned Property in New York
- NYC.gov: Information and Resources for NYC Tenants Impacted by COVID-19
- NYCourts: Court Fees in the New York City Housing Court