Est. 2007

TOP 50 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Important Note - Please be advised that the below Frequently Asked Questions ('FAQs") and responses are merely intended for general informational purposes only and are not intended as legal advice on any particular matter. The responses do not apply to every matter or situation and therefore should not be fully relied upon as your matter may have a nuance not contemplated below. If you have any particular questions, your attorney will be able to best advise you as to the specific answers to your questions.

FAQs - Different Types of Cases
  • Oral Lease Agreement
  • Rent accepted after expired lease
  • Tenant stopped paying rent and has an active lease
  • Behavioral Issues
  • Rent Stabilized or Rent Controlled Tenant
  • Cooperative or Condominium prior owner still residing in the unit
  • Expired Lease

FAQs - Family Members
  • Seeking eviction of your family member
  • Seeking eviction of your tenant's family member
FAQs - Commercial Tenants
FAQs - Section 8 Tenants (NYCHA & HPD)
FAQs - Different Types of Concerns
  • Landlord doesn't know names of all people living at the unit
  • Seeking to sue for arrears and possession
  • Impact of an Illegal unit set-up in building
  • Multiple Dwelling Registration issued
FAQs - Self-Help
  • Rule regarding maintaining electricity, water, gas, heat, etc.
  • Rules regarding locking occupants out
FAQs - Tenant with Bad Living Conditions
FAQs - Security Deposit and Legal Fees
FAQs - Notices & Filings
  • Notices
  • Notice of Petition and Petition
  • Tenant's required response
FAQs - Process Service
  • Can a tenant be served at work
  • How a tenant will be served if he never answers the door
  • How long it takes to serve a tenant
FAQs - Court Appearance
  • How is a case resolved at a Court Appearance
  • Must a Landlord be present at court
  • Additional documents/information required
  • Adjournments
  • What not to do when in court
FAQs - Trial
  • Probability of Trial
  • Witnesses
  • Certified Documents
  • Appeals
FAQs - Warrant & Eviction Process
  • Why a warrant is necessary
  • How long does it take to obtain (requisition)
  • How to hire a City Marshal
  • Circumstances where a tenant can be evicted by a City Marshal
  • Marshal costs
  • Tenant's belongings after eviction
  • Tenant still owes arrears after evicted
FAQs - Order to Show Cause


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FAQs - Different Types of Cases

  1. What is the process if I only had a verbal agreement with the tenant to stay at the premises and I would like possession of the unit to rent to someone else?
  2. A verbal arrangement still must be terminated by a notice terminating the oral agreement. Your attorney will draft the notice and have the notice served by a licensed process server. If the tenant remains at the premises after expiration of the notice, the attorney will then draft the Notice of Petition and Petition, which will trigger a Court Appearance (see below for more information regarding Court Appearance).

  3. What is the procedure if the tenant's lease expired and I accepted rent after it expired?
  4. By operation of law, a month to month tenancy was created and your attorney will need to cause the tenant to be served with the correct notice to terminate that arrangement. The procedure is generally the same as outlined in the prior FAQ.

  5. My tenant has not paid me rent and has an active lease, what is the procedure?
  6. Your attorney would need to start a non-payment matter against the tenant for unpaid rent. If the tenant ends up paying the outstanding amount, the tenant would remain in the premises, alternatively, if full payment is not made, the tenant would likely end up being evicted.

  7. Can I seek to evict a tenant based on behavioral issues?
  8. Generally, if one has behavioral issues with their tenant, it is very difficult to evict on those grounds immediately. Once the case is brought to court by your attorney, the court usually suggests that the tenant enter into a probationary period and then if the issues persist (during the probationary period) your attorney would potentially be able to seek eviction at a later point.

  9. My tenant has as lease for a Rent Stabilized or Rent Controlled unit, what are my options?
  10. Under the law, this type of tenant has a right to renew his lease, thus one must have their attorney sue the tenant either for nonpayment of rent or behavioral issues (see above FAQs regarding those issues). A Rent Stabilized or Rent Controlled lease can very rarely be terminated.

  11. I purchased a cooperative or condominium unit and the prior owner still resides at the unit, can I seek to evict him?
  12. Generally, Yes. The occupant would not be permitted to continue to reside at the unit. Your attorney will draft a notice and have the notice served by a licensed process server. If the individual remains at the premises after expiration of the notice, the attorney will then draft the Notice of Petition and Petition, which will trigger a Court Appearance (see below for more information regarding Court Appearance).

  13. My tenant's lease expired, and I would like to seek to evict the tenant, what is the procedure?
  14. If your tenant's lease has expired and the tenant is not residing in a Rent Stabilized or Controlled Unit, your attorney is permitted to seek to obtain possession of the unit and you need no excuse whatsoever. If your tenant is residing in a Rent Stabilized or Controlled Unit, please see above FAQ regarding Rent Stabilized or Controlled Unit tenants.


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    FAQs - Family Members

  15. I want to evict a family member of mine, is that possible?
  16. If you have an independent Landlord-Tenant relationship with the family member, such as an agreement to pay certain monies, it is possible. Your attorney will draft a notice and have the notice served by a licensed process server. If the individual remains at the premises after expiration of the notice, the attorney will then draft the Notice of Petition and Petition, which will trigger a Court Appearance (see below for more information regarding Court Appearance).

  17. Can I seek to evict a family member of a tenant, after the family member tenant who is on the lease no longer lives at the apartment?
  18. In general, in order for a family member to "succeed" a deceased tenant, the family member must show that he resided with the deceased for two years (one year in some limited circumstances) immediately prior death and had a familial relationship to the deceased. If the occupant cannot illustrate this two-prong defense, it is likely that he will not prevail. If you think that the individual cannot illustrate this defense, your attorney will draft a notice and have the notice served by a licensed process server. If the individual remains at the premises after expiration of the notice, the attorney will then draft the Notice of Petition and Petition, which will trigger a Court Appearance (see below for more information regarding Court Appearance).


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    FAQs - Commercial Tenants

  19. I would like to terminate the lease of a commercial tenant, is there anything to be aware of?
  20. Under these circumstances, a commercial tenant can potentially seek to have the case placed in Supreme Court by filing a "Yellowstone Injunction." Usually, the fees associated with litigating in Supreme Court are higher than Landlord-Tenant court and the litigation also usually tends to be slower. Yet, if you prefer to merely collect unpaid rent from the commercial tenant, that matter would generally not be able to be removed to Supreme Court and can be expedited by remaining in Landlord-Tenant court.


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    FAQs - Section 8 Tenants

  21. My tenant is a Section 8 NYCHA tenant and I would like to sue the tenant for not paying his portion of the rent, are the procedures any different?
  22. Yes. Section 8 NYCHA requires that a certain document is served upon Section 8 NYCHA with regard to nonpayment of rental arrears (your attorney will draft this document). Section 8 NYCHA then requires the landlord to wait 30 days for a response prior to proceeding with the customary nonpayment procedures.

  23. My tenant is a Section 8 HPD tenant and I would like to sue the tenant for not paying his portion of the rent, are the procedures any different?
  24. Slightly. Section 8 HPD merely requires that the landlord inform HPD of the proceedings via serving HPD with a copy of any documents served upon the tenant.

  25. My tenant is a Section 8 NYCHA or HPD tenant and I would like to sue the tenant to attempt to obtain the unit, since the tenant's lease expired and the unit is not Rent Stabilized, are the procedures any different?
  26. Slightly. Under these circumstances, both Section 8 offices Section 8 merely require that the landlord inform them of the proceedings via serving their office with a copy of any documents served upon the tenant.

  27. I know my tenant is a Section 8 tenant, do I need to know which one in order to start a case and how would I find that out?
  28. Yes, you must know which one as there are different requirements for different types. Usually you can find that information by looking at the payments received on behalf of the tenant.


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    FAQs - Different Types of Concerns

  29. What if I only know the names of a few people who live in the apartment?
  30. If you have made a diligent effort to ascertain the names of all individuals in the unit, you then would provide your attorney the names of the individuals you know of and inform our office how many additional adult males and females you believe reside at the unit.

  31. Can we sue for money and to get the unit back at the same time?
  32. If you are seeking to obtain the unit, many times possession of the unit is obtained separately or prior to obtaining a money judgment. If this is the case, a collection suit can be commenced after the tenant is out of possession.

  33. What happens if I have an illegal unit set up for someone to live there, does that impact proceedings in any way?
  34. It depends. One is not permitted to have a unit that is not legally registered set-up for habitation when attempting collect unpaid rent from anyone in the entire building. Yet, if you are seeking to take possession from any occupant, your attorney can still seek this even with an illegal unit in the building.

  35. I would like to attempt to sue a tenant for non-payment of rent in my building which has three units or more and I do not have a Multiple Dwelling Registration, what do I do?
  36. In order to obtain a money judgment and maintain a Landlord-Tenant proceeding one must have an effective Multiple Dwelling Registration. One can obtain same via filling out a form online on the City's website.


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    FAQs - Self-Help

  37. Am I permitted to turn off essential services (electricity, water, gas, heat, etc.) of a tenant?
  38. No. This is generally called a "constructive eviction" and by doing so you can subject yourself to treble damages and potential criminal proceedings and charges.

  39. Can I change the locks on my tenant's apartment in order to lock him out?
  40. No. This is called an "illegal lockout" and by doing so you can subject yourself to treble damages and potential criminal proceedings and charges.

  41. I have squatters in my apartment, can I just change the locks and lock them out?
  42. No. This is called an "illegal lockout" and by doing so you can subject yourself to treble damages and potential criminal proceedings and charges. But, if those individuals have been there for less than 30 days, it is suggested to notify the Police Department, they may be able to help.


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    FAQs - Bad Living Conditions

  43. My tenant is alleging that there are bad conditions in the apartment and repairs must be made, how will that impact my case?
  44. Generally, repairs are not really at issue in a case where a landlord is looking to repossess the unit. Alternatively, in a case to recoup unpaid rent, a tenant can use the conditions as a potential defense and can potentially be awarded an offset against the amount due.


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    FAQs - Security Deposit and Legal Fees

  45. The tenant has not paid rent and I have a security deposit from the tenant, should I apply the security to the rent?
  46. It is generally not a good idea to apply security to the rent, as security is very hard to have replaced via the courts.

  47. Can I recoup legal fees and late fees?
  48. Usually a separate suit would need to be commenced to collect these fees, unless the tenant is a commercial tenant or cooperative shareholder.


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    FAQs - Notices & Filings

  49. Why is a predicate Demand or Notice necessary, why can't my attorney just file the case immediately?
  50. Under most instances, the law requires a Demand or Notice to be served upon tenant prior to filing a suit in court. Under these circumstances, if a proper Demand or Notice is not made by your attorney, the matter would likely be dismissed by the court once filed.

  51. What is the Notice of Petition and Petition?
  52. These are the papers that are drafted by your attorney and filed in court to commence a proceeding. The papers demand the tenant's response.

  53. What happens if the tenant in a nonpayment case does not respond?
  54. A warrant is permitted to be sought upon default.


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    FAQs - Process Service

  55. I know where the tenant works, can the process server serve the tenant at his workplace?
  56. No, the law does not permit service at a tenant's place of employment.

  57. What happens if the tenant is never home, how will he be served?
  58. The process server must make an effort to serve the tenant personally by returning to the premises a few times at different times of day; yet, if the process server is still unable to serve the tenant personally, there comes a point where the tenant can post the document on the tenant's door (and mail additional copies) and that would still be considered good service.

  59. How long does it usually take for a process server to "complete" service of any documents?
  60. It typically takes a few business days.


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    FAQs - Court Appearance

  61. I understand that a Court Appearance generally occurs at some point after a Notice of Petition and Petition is filed, what happens at the Court Appearance?
  62. At a court appearance, the parties, with the help of the court, generally enter into a Stipulation to settle the matter by outlying a deadline to pay arrears and/or a deadline to vacate the subject unit, depending on the case. If the parties are unable to resolve, the court then usually sets another day to come back to potentially conduct a trial. At trial the court will issue a ruling with regard to deadline to pay arrears and/or a deadline to vacate the subject unit, depending on the case.

  63. Must I be present for the Court Appearance?
  64. Unless notified that you must be present, you are not required to attend a Court Appearance if you are represented by counsel. If the matter is scheduled for trial, you will need to attend and we will inform you of specifics. In the alternative, if you would like to be present, you are permitted to be.

  65. Is there anything additional that I must provide your office with when there is a Court Appearance?
  66. Unless we inform you, we don't need any further documents/information at a court appearance, as all allegations are already filed with court.

  67. If I am not present in court, when will I learn of what occurred?
  68. You will next receive notification of what transpired in court once the attorney returns from court and the information is logged into our system, that typically occurs within approximately 24 hours.

  69. How would a tenant be able to adjourn the Court Appearance?
  70. There are certain ways that a tenant can adjourn a court date, they are not listed here in order not to educate the public. In general, a tenant can only adjourn a Court Appearance once.

  71. I want to be present for the court appearance, is there anything I should be aware of?
  72. If you are present in court, please do not do anything without your attorney present. Please do not check in or answer if your case is called. Your attorney will address everything to best handle your matter.

  73. I received an update on my case after the court appearance stating that the tenant has approximately 30 days to pay the arrears or vacate, but I have not received an update on my case in the 29 days between the court appearance and the 30th day, is this normal?
  74. Yes, generally there are no updates between the court appearance and the time to pay; but if any updates do arise, we will notify you immediately.


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    FAQs - Trial

  75. How often does a trial actually occur?
  76. A trial occurs in less than one percent of cases and even if a matter is scheduled for trial, the matter still potentially can be resolved on that "trial date" without an actual trial.

  77. My attorney informed me that I need to have a witness for upcoming trial, who could be a good witness?
  78. If you know the facts of the matter from personal knowledge, you can a proper witness for the upcoming trial. In general, the witness must have personal knowledge of the facts of the case.

  79. My attorney informed me that my matter is set for trial and that I must have certified documents on that day, how do I go about that?
  80. There are various city offices that can provide you with certified documents; in addition our office will obtain same for a fee.

  81. If my matter proceeds with an actual trial, can a landlord or tenant appeal a ruling of a Landlord-Tenant judge?
  82. Yes, either party can appeal such a ruling to a higher court, but such appeal usually takes several months before it is heard.


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    FAQs - Warrant & Eviction Process

  83. Why would I need a warrant and how would I obtain (requisition) one?
  84. A warrant is necessary in order to enforce a deadline by legally evicting an individual by hiring a city marshal; our office will draft all the paperwork to that end and submit to the marshal.

  85. How long does it generally take for a warrant to be obtained?
  86. It generally takes three to six weeks, depending on the court and the circumstances of your case. Without the warrant being requisitioned and obtained, a landlord would not have the capability to enforce a deadline by evicting a tenant by hiring a city marshal.

  87. How does one hire a marshal to evict an individual?
  88. A marshal can be hired once a judgment is obtained on a case. The marshal is hired by our office and we will deal directly with the marshal on your behalf.

  89. My attorney entered into a Stipulation in court requiring the tenant/occupant to either pay or vacate in a certain amount of time, what happens if they don't comply?
  90. In the majority of instances, eviction can be scheduled (as long as a warrant was obtained).

  91. After my lawyer went to court my tenant is supposed to move out (or pay) by Monday, when is the quickest I can have the Marshal come and attempt to evict this individual?
  92. As long as a warrant was requisitioned, after the deadline for compliance has passed, the marshal then must serve the warrant of eviction (usually serve takes a few days to be "completed") and then the marshal must wait at least six business days later until the marshal can evict. The marshal's office creates their own schedule and once they inform our office of an eviction date, we will immediately inform you.

  93. What are the costs to expect with the Marshal?
  94. With regard to marshal costs, a landlord pays only for what they need. There are costs related to obtaining the warrant, serving the Notice of Eviction and actual eviction.

  95. .My tenant was evicted and items remain on the premises, what do I do?
  96. With regard to any personal belongings remaining in the subject premises after eviction, it is suggested to not move any belongings whatsoever for at least three to five business days (as many times the evicted party will return to court to seek that the court permit access to remove belongings), then if you would like to remove belongings (and store elsewhere), you may do so as long as you protect and safeguard all belongings for at least 30 days after eviction. If you do decide to move belongings, it is suggested to hire a licensed mover and take excellent and detailed photographs to document all belongings.

  97. What happens if the tenant still owes money after the tenant is evicted?
  98. A collection suit can be commenced after the tenant is out of possession.


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    FAQs - Order to Show Cause

  99. I have been informed that an occupant has filed an Order to Show Cause, what does that mean?
  100. An Order to Show Cause is filed unilaterally by a tenant; in doing so, the tenant goes before a judge (without our office being notified) generally to present a reason for the judge to permit a further court date to seek extension of a deadline. Generally, the reason presented is that the tenant needs a little more time than the amount originally allotted. This request is opposed by our office on the above referenced date and the judge ultimately makes a decision (whether to grant an extension and how long).