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Queens Eviction Lawyers

Evictions, Non-payment, Holdover

Queens Eviction Lawyers: Evictions & Other Real Estate Matters

We represent both Landlords and Tenants in Eviction Cases, to include non-payment of rent, holdover, nuisance, and other real estate matters.  Call us to see how we can help you. 

We proudly serve clients in Astoria, Long Island City, Ditmars, Woodside, Flushing, Bayside, Rego Park, Jackson Heights, Corona, Jamaica, Elmhurst, Kew Gardens, Whitestone, College Point, Bay Terrace, Great Neck, Kings Point, Port Washington, and all areas of Queens.

Queens Eviction Lawyer

Eviction

In New York City, there are strict legal requirements that a landlord must follow to evict a tenant, which include notice requirements that must be provided to tenants prior to filing an eviction case.  In the event the landlord does not provide the proper notice requirements, the eviction case can be dismissed.  In addition, tenants may have numerous defenses available to them that may prevent a landlord from collecting back rent or evicting a tenant.  Lets begin with the notice requirements that landlords must follow.  

Notice

To start the eviction process, the landlord must give the tenant written notice. The type of notice needed will be determined by the landlord’s reason for eviction, such as failure to pay rent or violating a term of the lease. 

  • Fourteen-Day Notice due to Failure to Pay Rent: If the tenant does not pay rent, the landlord must give the tenant a fourteen-day notice to pay rent or quit the tenancy (move out.)  This notice informs the tenant that the tenant has fourteen days to either pay rent in full or move out.  If the tenant does not pay the rent or move out, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit with the court at the end of the fourteen days.  See N.Y. Real Prop. Acts § 711(2)).  Keep in mind, just because a landlord files an eviction lawsuit does not automatically mean the landlord will be able to evict you or collect back rent from you.  Tenants may have defenses that will cause the judge to deny the landlord’s eviction case. 
  • Notice to Cure and Notice of Termination: If the landlord attempts to evict the tenant because the tenant has violated a term of the lease, the landlord must provide the tenant with two different types of notice.
    • Notice to Cure: The notice to cure is the first notice the landlord must provide to the tenant, which explains the landlord’s reasons he thinks are in violation of the lease.  For example, a landlord could claim that the tenant is engaged in illegal activity on the premises and that this is violating a term in the lease.  This notice informs the tenant that the tenant has ten days to correct the lease violation. If the tenant fixes the problem, the landlord cannot take further steps against the tenant.  However, if the tenant does not correct the violation, the landlord can then give the tenant a notice of termination.

Leases

A tenant’s property rights are determined by the terms of the lease agreement – as well as laws and regulations that NYC and NY State have enacted to provide tenant protections, even if they are not included in a lease. 

NYC provides residential tenants with substantial rights that are designed to protect their quality of life, safety and allow them to enjoy their home.  If landlords breach these rights, tenants may have legal defenses that prevent eviction or the payment of back rent.  Below is a brief synopsis of some terms that are relevant to residential landlord-tenant law. 

Lease Agreement Queens

Lease Terms

The landlord-tenant relationship is largely controlled by the terms found in the lease agreement.  A lease is a contract between a landlord and a tenant that contains the terms and conditions of the rental. It cannot be changed while it is in effect unless both parties agree. 

Leases for apartments that are not rent stabilized may be oral or written. To avoid disputes, the parties may wish to enter into a written agreement. A party must sign the lease to be bound by its terms. An oral lease for more than one year cannot be legally enforced.  See General Obligations Law § 5-701.

The lease agreement between a tenant and a landlord is one of the most important agreements in NYC.  It defines how renters enjoy their home, how the property will be maintained, and provides terms (or lease provisions) that both landlords and tenants must follow. 

In addition to the terms expressly written in the lease, NYC provides numerous implied terms that all landlords must follow whether or not they are written in the lease.  These include quality of life measures such as the warranty of habitability, that requires the landlord to provide a livable, safe and sanitary apartment.  See Real Property Law §235-b. An example of a landlord’s breach of the warranty of habitability is a failure to provide heat or hot water on a regular basis, or the landlord’s failure to exterminate pests and insect infestations.  

If a landlord breaches the warranty of habitability, the tenant may sue for a rent reduction. Alternatively, rent regulated tenants can also file a rent reduction complaint with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (“DHCR”).  Before filing such a complaint with DHCR for breach of the warranty, the tenant must communicate in writing with the landlord about the problem. A complaint may only be filed with DHCR not less than 10 days and not more than 60 days from the date the tenant sent a notice to the landlord. The tenant may also withhold rent, but in response, the landlord may sue the tenant for nonpayment of rent. In such case, the tenant may countersue for breach of the warranty.

Types of Housing

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In New York there are different types of housing, such as rent stabilized, rent control, or ordinary leases that are not regulated. 

The type of housing being rented may also provide tenants additional rights.  For example rent regulated properties afford tenants with additional rights

There are two types of rent regulation in New York State, rent control and rent stabilization.  An individual tenant’s rights will depend, in part, upon which regulations apply, although some apartments may have multiple laws governing their tenancies.  While tenants in rent regulated or government subsidized apartments have special rights, many rules and laws apply to both unregulated and regulated apartments.

Rent Control

Rent control limits the rent an owner may charge for an apartment and restricts the right of the owner to evict tenants. The rent control program applies to residential buildings constructed before February 1947 in municipalities that have not declared an end to the postwar rental housing emergency. Rent control is still in effect in New York City and parts of Albany, Erie, Nassau, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Westchester counties.  There are numerous provisions in the rent control law that can provide legal defenses to tenants depending on the facts of a case.

Rent Stabilization

In New York City, apartments are generally under rent stabilization if they are: 

  • An apartment that is not otherwise rent controlled in a building built before January 1, 1974 with six or more units; 
  • A formerly rent controlled apartments that became vacant without a lawful successor; 
  • In a building with three or more apartments constructed or extensively renovated on or after January 1, 1974 with special tax benefits, such as 421-a or J-51 tax abatements. Outside New York City, rent stabilized apartments are generally found in buildings with six or more apartments that were built before January 1, 1974. 

Local Rent Guidelines Boards in New York City, Nassau, Rockland, and Westchester counties set maximum rates for rent increases once a year which are effective for one or two year leases beginning on or after October 1 each year. Tenants in rent stabilized apartments are entitled to required essential services and lease renewals on the same terms and conditions as the original lease and may not be evicted except on grounds allowed by law. As of June 15, 2019, other localities are now able to enact their own rent stabilization laws if the locality declares a housing emergency. There are numerous provisions in the rent regulation law that can provide legal defenses to tenants depending on the facts of a case.

The above are just a few examples of different types of housing and lease provisions that affect tenant’s rights and defenses in an eviction case or back rent case.  Queens Eviction Attorneys closely examine the terms of your lease, the relevant legal provisions, and apply them to the facts of your case to provide you with the best possible resolution.

The lawyers at Solomos & Storms, PLLC have substantial experience with landlord-tenant matters, call us to learn more about your particular lease.

Commercial Tenants

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Commercial tenant are generally not afforded the same protections as residential tenants in NYC.  

Commercial landlord-tenant cases are handled in the General Civil Part of New York City Civil Court.  Commercial landlord-tenant cases are handled differently than residential landlord-tenant cases.  An experienced commercial landlord-tenant lawyer can help you determine if you have defenses available to eviction or non-payment of rent.  For more information about how the court handles commercial landlord-tenant cases, you can visit the court’s website here:

http://www.courts.state.ny.us/courts/nyc/housing/commercial.shtml.

 

Lease Creation

A New York lease agreement is a binding contract that allows a landlord to rent residential or commercial space to a willing tenant.  It is highly recommended to consult with an attorney prior to signing a commercial lease, so that the attorney may review the lease terms, explain them to you, and advise you regarding negotiating the lease. 

Lease Review

When you move to a new rental apartment in New York City, you may be tempted to skim or not read the lease you’re signing.  This can cause headaches down the road, especially for commercial leases.   The provisions in a lease document can hold you liable for certain future events, such as indemnification provisions.  You need to understand the terms of the lease before you sign it.  You should hire a real estate attorney to review the lease terms, explain them to you, and help you negotiate more favorable terms. Once you  sign the lease, it is too late—you are stuck with the provisions you agreed to. 

Tenant Buy Out Negotiations

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As the price of real estate in New York City continues to sore, many landlords engage in illegal tactics in an effort to evict rent-stabilized tenants in the hopes of obtaining more money for their units.  Tactics used by landlords to eject rent-stabilized tenants vary widely by neighborhood.  One common tactic is the buyout.  A landlord offers to pay tenants a lump sum to move out of their rent-stabilized apartments.  A landlord’s main goal is to replace the existing tenant with a new tenant under a higher market rent rate. However, if the tenant does not agree to the landlord’s buy out terms, many landlords use harassment and intimidation in an effort to force tenants to accept the buyouts.  Other tactics include construction on the building to interfere with tenant’s lives making them uncomfortable or creating hazardous living conditions.  You should hire a real estate attorney to help you negotiate buy out terms to get you the most favorable deal possible.  

What’s the buyout really worth?

A rent controlled or rent stabilized apartment may be one of the most coveted assets in New York City.  Many tenants do not know how much a buyout is worth for a rent-stabilized or a rent controlled tenant.  Buyouts generally range from $20,000 to $80,000, but in certain instances you could obtain greater compensation—especially when you hire an experienced real estate attorney to negotiate for you.

Tenant Rights: Harassment by Landlords is Illegal

If you are a tenant subject to harassment from a landlord that is trying to buy you out, it is important to understand your rights.  In 2015 legislators amended the New York City Housing Maintenance Code to protect tenants and prevent landlords from harassing tenants in buyouts.  In summary, a landlord cannot secure a buyout by using:

  • Force;
  • Threats of force;
  • Interruptions or discontinuances of essential services;
  • Commencing repeated baseless or frivolous court proceedings;
  • Tampering with the entrance or the lock;
  • Threatening, intimidating, or using obscene language;
  • Constant communication, at unusual hours or in a manner one can reasonably expect to be abuse or harassment;
  • Communication at the place of tenant’s employment, without prior written consent; and
  • False information.

In addition, a tenant can notify a landlord in writing that they do not want to be contacted by the landlord for 180 days and the landlord must honor this request.  In New York City, if you are a victim of harassment by your landlord, you may be able to obtain anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 for a first offense and $2,000 to $10,000 for subsequent buy you out.

Yellowstone Injunction NYC

Yellowstone Injunctions

Yellowstone injunction — named after the Court of Appeals decision First Nat. Stores, Inc. v. Yellowstone Shopping Ctr., Inc., 21 N.Y.2d 630 (1968) — is available to a commercial tenant that has been issued a notice of default and disputes that it is in default during the cure period, but is willing and able to cure if the default is found to exist.  The New York Legislature has made waivers in leases that prevent a tenant from seeking a Yellowstone injunction “null and void as against public policy.”  See RPL §235-h.  New York courts have been issuing Yellowstone injunctions with regularity for decades, and they have become a generally accepted part of New York’s commercial real estate practice.  Yellowstone injunctions are valuable tools for New York commercial lease tenants to stop (enjoin) an eviction proceeding.  When the landlord claims the tenant is in default of its lease and attempts to terminate the lease, an experienced NYC Yellowstone Injunction lawyer can help the tenant file for a Yellowstone injunction.  If the tenant ignores a notice to cure a default from the landlord, the lease will expire, and the landlord will evict the tenant as a “squatter” in a holdover proceeding.  A Yellowstone injunction tolls the period to cure the default and delays the eviction process. For example, a retail tenant will have additional time to comply with the landlord’s demands and cure the purported default. Alternatively, a retail lease tenant will have the opportunity to persuade a judge that he is not in fact in default. Without it, the landlord could terminate the lease when the notice to cure expires and before the judge could make a determination as to the underlying merits of the dispute.

Queens Eviction Lawyers may be able to assist you if:

  1. The tenant has received either a notice of default, a notice to cure and has been threatened with termination of its lease; and
  2. the tenant does not believe it is in default but is prepared and able to remedy the condition that the landlord claims to be a default, if necessary.

Filing the Yellowstone injunction and tolling the cure period is crucial for a commercial or retail lease tenant.  A court will only approve an injunction before the notice to cure deadline passes. Once the notice to cure period has passed, and the landlord has terminated the lease, the court will not grant the injunction. Second, even if the commercial tenant is in fact in default and has breached the terms of its lease, the injunction will provide the tenant with more time to remedy the default. Curing the default may be as straightforward as executing an estoppel certificate, or it may be as time-consuming as installing a new exhaust system. Whatever the alleged default is, getting more time to cure the default and to negotiate with the landlord is vital. Given that time is of the essence in these proceedings, the retail lease tenant must hire an experienced attorney to act promptly.

HP Actions

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A tenant can bring a case against a property owner in Housing Court to force them to make repairs and provide essential services, like heat and hot water. This case is called an “HP action.”  Tenants can also initiate claims of harassment in Housing Court. Harassment is legally defined as “any act or omission by or on behalf of an owner that causes or is intended to cause any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of a dwelling unit to vacate the unit or to surrender or waive any occupancy rights.” This includes actions such as the use of force or threats, repeated interruptions of essential services, the frequent filing of baseless court actions, removing a tenant’s possessions, removing or tampering with doors or locks, or other acts that substantially interfere with or disturb the comfort, repose, peace or quiet of any unit’s lawful occupant. Tenants can seek a civil penalty and an order by the court to order the owner to stop harassment.  

Section 8 Cases

The Section 8 rental assistance program helps tenants afford housing by providing a rent voucher. The program is administered federally by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), and administered locally in NYC by the New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA”).  In many cases, the tenant will be responsible to pay a part of the rent that is not covered by the Section 8 voucher.  In NYC, landlords accept Section 8 tenants because, at a minimum, they will receive the rent from the voucher.  Section 8 tenants have substantial legal protections.  If a landlord is trying to evict you, contact Queens Eviction Lawyers so that we can examine your case and provide you with the best available legal defenses to fight eviction.

Holdover Evictions

A landlord may generally bring two types of legal actions to quickly recover possession of a property – a holdover proceeding or a nonpayment eviction proceeding.  These types of cases are called “summary proceedings.”  A landlord can bring a summary proceeding if a tenant continues in possession of a property after the expiration of a lease term (holder proceeding) or fails to timely pay rent or other charges (nonpayment proceeding), among other reasons.  Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may have legal defenses that can prevent your landlord from evicting you in either a holdover or nonpayment proceeding.

Nonpayment Evictions

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A landlord may generally bring two types of legal actions to quickly recover possession of a property – a holdover proceeding or a nonpayment eviction proceeding.  These types of cases are called “summary proceedings.”  A landlord can bring a summary proceeding if a tenant continues in possession of a property after the expiration of a lease term (holder proceeding) or fails to timely pay rent or other charges (nonpayment proceeding), among other reasons.  Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may have legal defenses that can prevent your landlord from evicting you in either a holdover or nonpayment proceeding.

Termination Notices

Before filing an eviction case, a landlord must provide tenants with certain notices required by law.  Read the eviction section to learn more about the required notices.   Keep in mind, just because a landlord starts an eviction case does not mean that the landlord will win.  Tenants have certain rights, and there are several defenses to an eviction case.

Can my landlord evict me without going to court?

Absolutely not. 

A landlord must go to court, and must obtain a warrant of eviction from a Judge, and then must pay a fee to have a law enforcement officer properly evict you.  This is true even if you owe rent, your lease has ended, if you live in a rooming house, or have stayed in a hotel room for at least 30 days.

It is a class A misdemeanor for anyone to illegally evict you by:

  • Changing the locks,
  • Padlocking the doors,
  • Taking out your furniture or property,
  • Removing the door of the apartment or house,
  • Turning off the electricity or water,
  • Doing, or threatening to do, anything else that keeps you out of your house or apartment.  See Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law Section 768.

If you are facing eviction contact the Queens Eviction Lawyers to fight eviction.  You may have legal defenses that prevent a landlord from evicting you or collecting back rent from you. 

Rent Demands

In New York, landlords must serve you with a 14-Day Notice to Quit, also known as a “Rent Demand” or “Demand for Rent,” prior to filing an eviction case.  If the landlord fails to serve you with this document, you may be able to have the eviction case dismissed.  The eviction process is designed to give tenants sufficient notice, prior to a landlord filing an eviction case.  When the landlord fails to follow the rules, the landlord’s case is subject to dismissal.  If you are facing eviction contact the Queens Eviction Lawyers to fight eviction.  You may have legal defenses that prevent a landlord from evicting you or collecting back rent from you. 

All Other Matter Related to Eviction and Landlord-Tenant Law

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The New York Legislature has provided tenants with substantial protections for a variety of lease types.  Depending on the type of lease you have and the activities the landlord has engaged in, you may have legal defenses that will prevent a landlord from evicting you or collecting back rent from you.  If you are facing eviction contact the Queens Eviction Lawyers to fight eviction.  You may have legal defenses that prevent a landlord from evicting you or collecting back rent from you.

We Look Forward To Working With You

We strive to provide the highest level of legal service to our clients, and go above and beyond the call of duty. Solomos & Storms, PLLC is a veteran owned business.  One of the founding partners of the firm, Derrick Storms, Esq., is a former United States Marine, who served during the Iraq War. 

Our commitment to clients is to provide the best possible service at the lowest possible price.  We do our best to resolve your case as quickly and efficiently as possible.  

Thank you for considering our firm.

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