Officials are currently seeking ways to combat the Housing crisis, where an increasing number of renters have found themselves searching for affordable units. Landlords are attempting to evict tenants in hopes of earning a higher rental income, and in hopes of delivering their property vacant upon its sale. In response to the growing eviction campaign, tenants in one and two-family dwellings should know their rights before they lose the space they call home and should seek the assistance of a Landlord-Tenant Attorney.
If a tenant has a written lease, the landlord may choose to not renew the lease and to conduct a holdover to recover the premises. If you have received termination papers, ensure that you are served properly. Service must be completed at least 30 days before the termination date. The notice of non-renewal of the lease must state the date which the lease terminates. Be sure that you were served properly. If you were not served in person, then the process server or a third party to the case may leave the notice taped to your door, or in an obvious location, and it must also be mailed within one day. A third party may be served on your behalf, but the notice must then be mailed to you. Where there is an oral lease, or month-to-month tenancy, the tenant must take notice of the same procedures for the service of process, as noted above.
If you had started a case against the landlord for repairs or due to a reduction in service, you may have a retaliatory defense. Such defense states that the landlord is evicting you in retaliation to your lawsuit for repairs. Another defense applies when a landlord collects rent after the termination date. In that case, you are a month-to-month tenant and the landlord will have to reserve the termination notice to evict you.
Another way in which a Landlord may seek eviction is for the non-payment of rent. If a tenant falls behind on rent, or if a tenant withholds rent due to a lack of repairs (and after notifying the landlord), the landlord can recover the rent by first demanding rent with a three-day notice, or five-day notice if it is stated on the lease. As a defense, the tenant may argue that the demand does not state the proper amount that is due, or that the demand does not have a date for when payment is to be made. The case may be dismissed due to the inaccuracies of the rent demand. Another defense is known as laches, which claims that the rent demand is stale, or the landlord took too long to bring the case. There is no specified time period for a laches defense, and it would be accepted on a case-by-case basis. Consult a landlord-tenant attorney for advice on a laches defense and other possible defenses.
Finally, if a tenant is experiencing financial hardship, there are various public programs that provide financial assistance. The One-Shot-Deal is one of the programs available for tenants in distress. A tenant who faces homelessness due to an eviction proceeding, or the threat of eviction, a tenant who was victim to a fire disaster or domestic violence, and a tenant who faces circumstances that affect their health and safety can contact the New York City Human Resources Administration. Also available, are programs that freeze the rent for individuals with disabilities, known as the Disability Rent Increase Exemption, and programs that freeze the rent for senior citizens, known as Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption.
Don’t let landlords trick you into relinquishing your rights as a tenant. Consult a landlord-tenant attorney for assistance in court procedures and even before you sign your lease. A landlord-tenant attorney can help you understand the language on your lease and can prepare you for future unforeseen landlord-tenant issues.
Chereen James is an aspiring lawyer who enjoys writing in her spare time. Chereen has written for publications such as The Statesman and is now a writer for Workers’ World Today. She also co-hosts a radio show, “Ask the Lawyer.”