If you are behind on your rent, your landlord cannot evict you without going to court first. It is a crime for a landlord to try to force you to leave without going to court. The landlord can ask you to leave and warn that they will start a court case if you do not, but the landlord cannot do any of the following:
If your landlord does any of these things or anything else that makes it impossible for you to stay in your home, call the police right away (911). If the police do not get you back into your home, you can ask the court for an order to get you in. Call Nassau Suffolk Law Services or other lawyers for help. If the police do not help you, you can also report this to the New York Attorney General’s Office at 800-771-7755 or go to www.bit.ly/UnlawfulEviction.
There are two different kinds of eviction cases. There are different notice rules for each type of case:
1. 5-Day Late Rent Notice: Your landlord must send you a letter by certified mail if your rent is not received within five days of your rent due date to let you know that your rent was late. Certified mail looks like this.
2. 14-Day Rent Demand: Your landlord must serve you a 14-day rent demand. Serving a document means delivering it following rules described by law. Your landlord cannot serve the document himself, but anyone else can serve it. The documents don’t have to be delivered directly to you personally. They can be left with another responsible person in your home as long another copy is mailed to you. If the person delivering the document cannot find anyone to hand the documents to after trying three times, they can tape the documents to your door and then follow up by mailing another copy to you.
Another type of holdover proceeding is where your landlord says you broke one of your lease rules. If your landlord wants to bring this kind of holdover proceeding, then they must follow any notice rules in the lease.
Everyone has the right to go to court to defend themselves and present arguments (defenses) explaining why they should not be evicted.
You will learn that your landlord started an eviction case when you are served with a Summons and Notice of Petition. These documents must be served following the special rules we described earlier. These documents will tell you when to go to court. As soon as you receive these documents, you should try to find a lawyer to help you.
If the judge decides that you should be evicted, it will not happen right away. Only the Sheriff can remove you from your home. Your landlord must deliver papers from the court to the Sheriff. Then, the Sheriff will serve you a 14-day notice of eviction.
If your landlord took you to court because you did not pay your rent, you have until the end of these 14 days to pay the full amount due to avoid being evicted.
If you are still in your home at the end of the 14-day period, the Sheriff will remove you and your property from the home. In Nassau County, your landlord must pay for your property to be put in storage for one month. But in Suffolk County, your property will be put out on the street.
Because of COVID-19, renters have new defenses. These defenses are not automatic and do not prohibit all evictions.
The CDC Order does not prohibit evictions based on criminal activity on-premises, activity that threatens the health or safety of other residents, for damaging or threatening risk of damage to the property, or violating other lease obligations other than paying rent.
The federal CARES Act eviction moratorium expired July 25, 2020. Still, tenants who live in federally subsidized properties or in properties with a federally backed mortgage must receive a 30-day notice from the landlord after July 25, 2020, before the landlord can start an eviction proceeding. This notice requirement is in addition to the New York State notice requirements described above.
Contact a lawyer for help figuring out if these defenses apply to you.
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