Under the New York State eviction laws, a property owner can evict a tenant for several reasons. However, before the eviction can occur, the landlord must terminate the tenancy by providing the tenant with adequate written notice. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, the property owner can file an eviction case in court to remove the tenant from the property.

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New York Courthouse for Eviction CasesThe NY eviction laws require that the process for evicting a tenant should follow specific rules and procedures, depending on the circumstances. For example, is the property rented for residential or commercial reasons? Is it located in New York City or outside? Is the unit rent-regulated or not? The law’s intention is to ensure that eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new place to live.

The NY State eviction process typically requires the property owner to provide the tenant with adequate notice. The duration of the notice depends on the case and is strictly defined by NY eviction laws. Only after the end of the notice period, and if the tenant has failed to comply with the notice requests, can the property owner file a case with the courts and receive an eviction court order. The landlord can then have a law enforcement officer evict the tenant.

Self-help eviction is illegal in the state of New York. Indeed, it is a class A misdemeanor if a property owner evicts a tenant by tactics such as changing locks, padlocking doors, removing the door of the property, taking out furniture or other property of the tenant, turning off electricity or water, and generally using any form of threat, force, or violence against the tenant. In case of illegal eviction, the tenant can call the police.

Landlords must carefully follow the legal rules and procedures under the New York eviction law, otherwise the eviction may not be valid.

Commercial Eviction in New York

A commercial tenant rents a property specifically for the purposes of doing business and/or conducting other commercial activities. In general, commercial tenants have limited rights compared to residential tenants, even if the NY commercial eviction law offers more protection than other states.

A landlord must offer the court a specific, justifiable reason to remove a commercial tenant. Failure to pay rent constitutes one of the major—but not the only—justifiable reasons for commercial eviction. A property owner can also claim that the tenant violates other terms of the lease contract, creates a public nuisance, holds the property long after the expiration of the lease contract, etc.

Under the New York state eviction process, commercial tenants are protected against discrimination, harassment, recurring frivolous legal actions, or repeated unnecessary acts that interfere with the tenant’s business. Therefore, the property owner cannot start an eviction process based on any reason that goes against the above protections. Furthermore, NY eviction laws assume that if a tenant’s right or obligation is not explicitly mentioned in the commercial contract, then it is not enforceable.

The New York State eviction process requires the property owner to provide the tenant with a three-day eviction notice to remedy the causes of the eviction, before filing a case in court.

If a commercial tenant faces eviction, they should consider the following possible defenses:

  • Illegal eviction. As an example, if the landlord’s justification for eviction can be proven to fall under any of the protections offered by the NY evictions law, such as discrimination (under the Fair Housing Act) or interference with services that are deemed to be of “proper and customary” use of the building.
  • Lack of proper notice. Specifically, if the landlord fails to notify the commercial tenant with a three-day notice that would allow the tenant to remedy the issue that causes the eviction.
  • Breach of contract. That’s when the reason for the eviction violates a condition of the commercial lease agreement.
  • Retaliatory eviction. This is when the tenant can prove that the attempt to evict is in response to the tenant’s actions to protect their own rights. For example, the tenant may have been rightfully complaining about issues that affect the property such as demanding maintenance, and the landlord sues to evict the tenant in retaliation.
  • In case of a commercial tenant eviction violation, the tenant can claim remedies such as monetary damages, an extension of the time they have to fix violations, the right to remain on the property, etc.

Types of Evictions and Eviction Notice Times

The New York State eviction process imposes strict notice requirements on the landlord. A landlord cannot proceed with eviction before the expiration of the rental term unless there is a specific reason to terminate a lease or to discontinue a lease with no specific expiration time. Such reasons can be that the tenant has stopped paying the rent or violates the lease/rental agreement. Depending on the reason, the landlord needs to start the eviction process by giving the tenant the proper notice:

  • 14 Day Eviction Notice to Pay Rent or Quit: If the tenant has fallen behind in his rent payments, the landlord can give him a fourteen-day notice to pay the rent in full or move out of the property.  If the tenant neither pays the rent nor moves out at the end of the 14 day eviction period, the property owner may lawfully file an eviction lawsuit with the court. Of course, the tenant may fight this by filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  • 30 Day Eviction Notice to Cure and Notice of Termination: If the tenant is in violation of the rental agreement, then the landlord needs to provide two different types of notices to start the eviction process.
    • Notice to Cure: To start a possible eviction process, the property owner first needs to give the tenant who has violated the lease a Notice to Cure, allowing them 10 days to correct the lease violation. If the tenant complies, the landlord cannot proceed with an eviction. However, if the tenant persists in violating the contract, the landlord can take the next step and proceed with a notice of termination.
    • Notice of Termination: Following the Notice to Cure that went without effect, the landlord should provide the tenant with a notice of termination. The notice of termination informs the tenant that the tenancy has been terminated because of their failure to correct the lease violation. The tenant has 30 days to move out of the rental unit. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit at the end of the 30-day eviction period, the property owner can file an eviction case with the court.

Month-to-Month Rental Agreements

In case of a month-to-month lease or rental agreement, the landlord must give eviction notices as follows:

  • Tenants occupying the premises for up to one year: 30-day notice.
  • Tenants occupying the premises for from one to two years: 60-day notice.
  • Tenants occupying the premises for more than two years: 90-day notice.

Eviction after Foreclosure

Eviction after foreclosure constitutes a complicated aspect of the mortgage foreclosure process for all parties, involving the debtor-property owner, the tenants, the foreclosing party (usually a bank or its servicer), and the new owner of a property.

The foreclosing party bears the obligation of keeping all tenants of the property regularly informed on the process. Initially, the creditor must notify all tenants that the property is the subject of a foreclosure action. This notice is a prerequisite in case of any post-foreclosure eviction action. After the foreclosure action, the foreclosing party must again notify tenants of the outcome of the action.

After the foreclosure sale and the title transfer, the new owner must notify the tenants of their rights and send 90-day notices for any eviction planned. Not all tenants can be evicted by the new owner. In particular:

  • Tenants in Rent-Controlled and Rent Stabilized Units: These maintain their rights and obligations independently of the foreclosure process, including their right to renew the lease. The only change affecting them is the party to whom they pay rent. The new owner must continue to comply with all laws and regulations that apply to units subject to rent control and rent stabilization. However, the new owner can evict the tenant of a single unit in order to occupy the unit as their primary residence. In that case, the new owner must provide notice to vacate at least 90 days prior to the effective date of eviction.
  • Tenants in Section 8 Housing: Tenants in Section 8 housing can only be evicted “for serious or repeated violations of the terms and conditions of the lease, for violation of applicable Federal, State, or local law, or for other good cause.” Change of ownership due to foreclosure is not in itself a good cause for eviction, therefore Section 8 tenants may not be evicted after foreclosure. The only exception is for the tenants of a single unit, under the condition that the new owner intends to use it as their primary residence.
  • Tenants in Non-Regulated Units: Tenants in units that are not subject to rent control or rent stabilization may retain occupancy either until the end of the original lease agreement or for 90 days in the absence of a written lease term—whichever is greater. After either period, if the tenant has not moved, known as “holding over,”, the new owner can start the eviction process with a “holdover proceeding” in Court. While the case can be dismissed if the plaintiff-landlord has not brought all necessary documentation to the court, it can be restarted later. Court records about evictions after foreclosure must be sealed and kept from the public.

New York State Auto Repossession Laws

New York Auto Repo lawsOne of the most common ways for acquiring a car or boat is getting a loan for that specific purpose. In New York, a lienholder does not receive the title certificate or a copy of it. Instead, DMV issues a title certificate to the vehicle owner, not to the lienholder or any other party. If the car buyer fails to pay the loan installments, the creditor has the legal right to initiate a repossession process.

The contract may include further conditions that can lead to default and repossession if violated, such as insufficient car insurance, substantial car damage, selling the car without creditor permission, etc.

According to the New York State auto repossession laws, the creditor can lawfully repossess the car even if a debtor is only a few weeks behind in their payments, without a court order or even a simple notice (this is known as a self-help repossession). The intention of the law is to prevent the car buyer from making the vehicle unavailable to repossession by hiding it, or by diminishing its value by damaging it on purpose.

After repossession, the car buyer may contact the creditor in order to reinstate the loan contract. The car loan may be reinstated if the car buyer pays all past due payments and vehicle repossession costs and makes regular installment payments from then on, or if he pays the entire loan balance in case of an acceleration clause. An acceleration clause merely “accelerates” the debt, meaning that the lender can, after the borrower misses payments, “call the loan,” or demand that the full amount of the loan be paid immediately.

In case of auto repossession and failure to reinstate the contract, the debtor has certain legal rights:

  • The right to receive a notice within 72 hours after the repossession. The lender must explain in the notice how the buyer can redeem the car.  If the loan contract includes an acceleration clause, the debtor can demand payment of the complete loan balance instead of just the missed installments, as well as reasonable repossession fees and expenses.
  • The right to receive a notice before the car is sold or auctioned. The car buyer has the right to know when and where the auction takes place. The debtor has the right to bid on the car and try to buy it back at the auction. However, if they buy it for an amount lower than the loan balance, they are still responsible for paying the deficiency balance.
  • The right to receive a statement after the vehicle is sold or auctioned. The lender will deduct all repossession and auction legal fees and expenses from the sale proceedings, then deduct the rest from the car buyer’s loan balance. If the sale proceedings are not sufficient to cover the loan obligation, the lender can proceed with further legal actions for the balance, known as the “deficiency.” If the sale proceedings are higher than the loan balance, the buyer may be entitled to a refund of the surplus money.

Legal Defenses in Case of Auto Repossession

There are several legal defenses a car buyer can resort to in case of auto repossession:

  • The lender breached the peace when repossessing the car. The New York auto repossession law specifies that when the creditor attempts self-help repossession, they must be careful not to commit a breach of the peace. The creditor may not use threats or force, they may not enter the buyer’s home or garage to remove the car without consent, and they must stop the repossession if the debtor is present and objects to it. In such a case, the creditor must physically stop the repossession and call the police. If any of the above conditions are breached by the lender, the debtor can claim a breach of peace.
  • The lender did not sell the car in a commercially reasonable manner. The lender is obligated by law to seek a commercially reasonable price for the repossessed vehicle. A commercially reasonable sale means that the debtor must make reasonable efforts to sell the car and may not accept a price far below the market value of the car.
  • The lender did not demand strict compliance to the acceleration clause in previous instances. If there is an acceleration clause and the lender has accepted late payments in the past without reacting, the buyer can claim that the acceleration clause has been waived and the debtor has no right to demand full payment of the loan.
  • The debtor has no right to keep a car in satisfaction of a debt if the buyer has already paid more than 60% of the car’s price. Instead, the lender must send the vehicle to auction within 90 days, apply the proceedings towards the deficiency, and give the rest of the sale proceeds to the debtor. The lender is not allowed to simply hold the vehicle.

Whether you are a tenant facing eviction, a car owner facing repossession, or a landlord who wishes to evict a tenant acting in bad faith, contact Roemerman Law to explore your options.

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