How to Legally Evict Non-Paying Tenants in New York

The New York City Housing Court processes hundreds of residential eviction cases every year. And the most common cause for eviction is when tenants can’t or won’t pay their rent. Getting these non-paying tenants to leave your property is a tricky matter. A slight misstep may lead to prolonged court cases. If you do the wrong thing, you could find yourself paying for damages.

Avoid unpleasant legal consequences and resolve eviction cases as painlessly as possible with the following guide.

The Eviction Process

First, you must be clear on your lease when your tenant’s rent is due. Keep in mind other conditions and stipulations in your lease when considering eviction. If you agreed to give tenants a grace period, you are legally obligated to wait through that set time before leveraging late fees or initiating eviction.

Should the grace period in your lease lapse without the tenant making good on their rent, you can now send a notice for rent. This is an official “Notice” demanding payment for rent. If the tenant fails to pay in 14 days (adjusted from 3 days in accordance with the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019), you may begin the eviction process and file a petition at the New York Housing Court.

The rent notice is a written document that should have the following necessary information:

  • The date of when the notice was served to your tenant
  • The tenant’s name and address
  • The reason for sending the notice
  • How much rent is past due and to whom your tenant should pay it
  • A statement telling the tenant that they now have 14 days to either pay or vacate the unit, along with the exact date of when they must comply
  • An Affidavit of Sevice that specifies the way the notice was given

As the landlord, you’re not allowed to serve the rent notice in person. Instead, you must hire a process server to serve the document to the tenant (personal delivery). The process server may also deliver the Notice to someone 18 years and older who lives or works with the tenant (substituted delivery) if they accept it. If the tenant cannot be located in the unit, your process server may leave the Notice in a visible and conspicuous position in the unit, like on the front door. The process server may also send a copy through the mail to your tenant’s last known address (conspicuous place delivery).

What You Shouldn’t Do

You could be tempted to take matters into your own hands. But doing so may not just be harmful to eviction cases you may file later; it’s illegal. Even if your tenant’s lease has ended or if they’ve failed to pay rent, you cannot attempt any illegal eviction maneuver.

These illegal methods include:

  • Taking away the door of the rental property
  • Shutting off utilities, like water or power
  • Removing the tenant’s property and furniture
  • Putting padlocks on the doors or changing the locks
  • Threatening the tenant or otherwise preventing them from entering the rental property

Eviction could be a lengthy process, but following the legal process is the only way you can reliably collect the money your tenant owes you. Using shortcuts to secure rent may only lead to more difficulty and financial hardships.

Follow the legal route, and seek experienced support when settling tenant problems.

Reliable Legal Support in New York

Our licensed and skilled process servers hand-deliver written notices. We also provide comprehensive legal support, such as court filing, document retrieval, and mobile notary services. We’ve helped law firms, attorneys, and individuals in the five boroughs of New York City.

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