Addressing Landlord-Tenant Issues in Nassau And Suffolk Counties
Navigating the Landlord-Tenant (eviction) courts is not an easy process, regardless of which side you are on, since eviction in New York is extremely technical in nature. With more than 20 years of experience, the Law Office of Bradley D. Schnur, Esq. P.C. is a strong choice to guide you through the legal maze.
Attorney Bradley D. Schnur represents both Landlords and Tenants in the District Courts of Nassau and Suffolk counties on a regular basis with both Nonpayment and Holdover eviction proceedings. He also files and defends post-judgment Orders to Show Cause which, among other things, seek to vacate defaults, stay an eviction and/or restore a tenant to possession.
Take Notice of the New York Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019
Did you know that recent changes to the law provide even greater protections to New York tenants? Here are a few key facts that both Landlords and Tenants in Nassau and Suffolk Counties should understand:
- A Landlord cannot refuse to rent to a Tenant simply because the Tenant had a prior eviction case in the courts.
- A Tenant cannot be evicted or otherwise punished for lodging a complaint about the condition of a property.
- A security deposit for a residential tenancy is limited to one (1) month’s rent.
- A Landlord must return a Tenant’s security deposit to the Tenant within 14 days of the Tenant having moved out. If a Landlord does deduct money for repairs, the Landlord must provide the Tenant with an itemized list of those expenses.
- A Landlord cannot charge more then $50 or 5% of the rent (whichever is lower) per month as a late fee and a Tenant cannot be charged a late fee if the rent is less than five days late.
- In addition to the required predicate notice, a Landlord must send the Tenant a certified letter if they do not receive the Tenant’s rent when due.
- A tenant must receive at least 14-days’ notice of a Sheriff’s eviction (as opposed to 3 days, previously).
- Depending on how long a residential Tenant has occupied the premises, a Landlord must give a Tenant between 30 and 90 days’ notice if they plan to end the tenancy and/or increase rent by 5% or more.
Understanding the Technical Process of an Eviction in Nassau or Suffolk County
On Long Island, residential and commercial eviction proceedings are generally brought in the District Court of Nassau County or Suffolk County, based on the location of the premises. (If the premises are located in the City of Glen Cove or the City of Long Beach, an eviction proceeding may also be filed in the City courts. Similarly, if the premises are located on the “east end” of Long Island, the proceeding will be filed in the respective Town court.)
- First, the Landlord needs to know which type of eviction proceeding is appropriate given the facts particular to the issue. There are typically two (2) types of eviction proceedings, the Non-Payment proceeding and the Holdover Proceeding:
- A Non-Payment Proceeding is an action brought by a Landlord to collect unpaid rent.
- A Holdover Proceeding is a more complex action, brought by a Landlord to evict a Tenant or Occupant of a premises for reasons other than nonpayment of rent (such as a Tenant staying in the Premises after a lease or license has expired, a Squatter refusing to vacate the Premises, a former owner remaining in possession of a home after foreclosure, and violations not having been cured).
- Once it is determined which proceeding is appropriate given the unique set of facts for the particular case, a Landlord must have a “predicate notice” drafted and served upon the parties the Landlord is seeking to evict. Both the content of the notice and how and when it is served is highly technical in nature and is not something we believe a Landlord should handle on their own. We have had many cases dismissed on behalf of Tenants as a result of these technicalities.
- Next, upon the expiration of the time period set forth in the predicate notice, should the Tenant have failed to cure the issues set forth in the notice (e.g., failed to have paid rent arrears or vacate the premises, and/or cure a lease violation) the Landlord must commence the eviction case (also called a Summary Proceeding) in the appropriate court by filing a Notice of Petition and Petition. The Notice of Petition will set forth the date, time and place the Tenant (and any other parties) a Landlord is seeking to evict must appear in Court. The Petition contains the specific allegations being made by the Landlord. Like the “predicate notice,” it is important that the Notice of Petition and Petition are drafted properly and served in the manner as required by law. Similarly, prior to the initial court date, proof of service of the Notice of Petition and Petition must be timely filed with the Clerk of the Court.
- After service of the Notice of Petition and Petition, the Landlord (and/or their attorney) and the Tenant (and/or their attorney) must appear in Court on the return date set forth in the Notice of Petition. Generally, during the initial Court appearance the Landlord and Tenant (and/or their counsel) will conference the case with one another (and sometimes the Judge), with the goal being entering into a Stipulation of Settlement (a binding, written agreement which addresses the outstanding issues). Often, a Stipulation will require the Tenant to do something (e.g., pay rent arrears, vacate the premises by a certain date, etc., otherwise a physical eviction will occur without the need for a trial). If the parties cannot come to a resolution of the matter, the case will be adjourned and scheduled for another date for the purpose of another conference and/or trial. If the matter does go to trial, the Judge will hear testimony and review evidence and render a decision. If the Landlord is awarded a Judgment of Possession and Warrant of Eviction, additional paperwork must be filed with the Court before the actual (physical) eviction occurs.
- If following trial the Tenant/Occupant still refuses to vacate the Premises or the Tenant/Occupant fails to comply with the terms of the Stipulation of Settlement, the Judgment of Possession and Warrant of Eviction (issued by the Court), are delivered to the Eviction Unit of the Nassau County Sheriff’s Department or the Civil Enforcement Unit of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department to effectuate a physical eviction. Once the eviction paperwork is processed by the Sheriff, a Deputy will serve a 14-day notice upon the Tenants/Occupants of the Premises. (Prior to June 2019, only a 3-day notice was required.) Should the Tenants/Occupants then fail to vacate the Premises after the 14-day notice period has elapsed, the Sheriff will return anytime thereafter to physically remove the Tenants/Occupants from the Premises along with their personal property.
Suffice it to say, whether you are a Landlord or a Tenant, the eviction process in Nassau County and Suffolk County can be tricky to navigate. While a Landlord or Tenant who is an individual can represent themselves in these matters, we do not recommend that you do so. (Also note that a Corporation must be represented in Court by an attorney in an eviction proceeding.)
We appear in the District Courts of Nassau and Suffolk County on a regular basis and are very familiar with the Courts, Judges, applicable laws and procedures in these cases.
We generally charge a flat fee for our representation in these matters.
We File and Defend Eviction-Related Orders to Show Cause
In addition to commencing and defending eviction cases in the Nassau County and Suffolk County District Courts, we will also file and/or defend eviction-related Orders to Show Cause.
The most common types of an Order to Show Cause filed in Landlord-Tenant Court are:
Order to Show Cause to Vacate a Default: As the New York courts point out, “If you miss a court date, the party suing you will ask the court for a default judgment against you.” By filing an Order to Show Cause seeking to vacate a default, a party can ask the court to vacate (cancel) the default judgment (however, you have to meet certain criteria for the Motion to be considered). The court adds, “If the judgment is vacated and the case is put back on the court’s calendar, the case is not over” and the matter proceeds accordingly.
Order to Show Cause to Stay an Eviction: In some instances, a Tenant will have appeared in a case and a stipulation or court order after hearing will have resulted requiring the Tenant to vacate the premises by a certain date. However, sometimes, by no fault of the Tenant, they cannot timely vacate the Premises before the agreed upon date or expiration of the 14-day Sheriff’s notice. In these cases, we may be able to petition the Court for an extension of time for the Tenant to do what is required pursuant to the stipulation (e.g., pay rent arrears, vacate the premises, etc.)
Order to Show Cause to Restore a Tenant to Possession: If a Landlord or owner of the premises has illegally locked a person or business out of the premises they believe they are entitled to occupy without first going to court and obtaining a Judgment of Possession and a Warrant of Eviction, the individual or business may seek to be restored to possession by commencing a proceeding by Order to Show Cause.
In fact, an illegal lockout does not only mean the changing of the locks on a door. It is Illegal (a Class A misdemeanor) in New York for a Landlord to resort to “Self-Help” and Lock Out a Tenant or interrupt or discontinue essential services such as heat and hot water. (See NY Real Property Actions & Proceedings Law (RPAPL) Section 768).
Contact an Experienced Long Island Eviction Lawyer Today
Whether you are a Tenant or a Landlord in need of legal assistance, you can count on the Law Office of Bradley D. Schnur, Esq. P.C. for clear counsel and devoted attention. Mr. Schnur is a skilled negotiator who appears in the Nassau County and Suffolk County District Courts regularly and is responsive to his clients’ needs. Contact him online or call 516-932-4400 to arrange a free initial strategy session.