Free Consultation with a Landlord-Tenant Lawyer? Here's what to expect.

What to expect during your free consultation with a Landlord-Tenant Lawyer

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If you need to speak with a landlord-tenant lawyer, then you’re probably dealing with an eviction.  Whether you’re a landlord looking to evict, or your a tenant facing eviction, it’s important to understand what to expect in the case.  Since eviction cases are ‘special proceedings’ designed to be pushed quickly through the courts, here’s a little of what you can expect when you meet with a landlord-tenant lawyer for a free consultation.

THE LEASE IS KEY (IF IT EXISTS)

If you’re a landlord meeting with a lawyer to discuss eviction of a tenant, be sure to take a copy of a lease if one exists.  If the tenancy is governed by a valid lease, the lease controls everything that can and cannot happen.  If the reason you’re meeting with a landlord-tenant lawyer is to evict a tenant because they haven’t paid rent as they should under the lease, be sure to bring any and all proofs of payment.

NONPAYMENT VS. HOLDOVER CASE

In NYC, you can evict a tenant, whether commercial or residential, in one of two ways.  You can bring a nonpayment case if the tenant has failed to pay the rent under the terms of the lease.  Otherwise, the case is called a holdover case, where you are seeking a judgment of possession to recover the space from the tenant.

If there is no valid and enforceable lease, the holdover case is the only case that a landlord can bring.  You can also bring a holdover case if there is a material breach of the terms of the lease (such as using the premises in a way not contemplated by the lease, or a tenant not carrying the requisite insurance), except payment of rent.

JUDGMENTS

Keep in mind that when you sue someone in court, what you get when you win is a judgment.  A judgment is a court order stating what you won against the other party.  The landlord-tenant court is entitled to enter judgments of possession (so that the landlord can recover possession of a space) and money judgments (if the party can show that they were entitled to money that was not paid).

STRATEGIZING

Understanding what you can expect in a case is important because it can help to plan out a favorable strategy.  When a potential client contacts the Law Office of Richard Kistnen and says that they want BOTH the tenant out immediately, and for the tenant to pay any arrears immediately, I have to (sadly) explain that it doesn’t work that way. 

While a marshal can enforce a judgment of possession to evict a tenant, a money judgment is much more difficult to enforce.  You, as the judgment creditor, have to supply information to a marshal to collect.  That is, you have to provide bank account information, payroll information, etc. to a marshal for enforcement – they won’t just collect for you.  Since it’s very easy to change this kind of information (such as closing a bank account and opening a new one), it helps to use this to strategize.  

For instance, rather than pursuing a money judgment, I suggest to landlords to forego the money judgment in exchange for a shorter date to vacate by the tenant.

If you’re a tenant meeting with a landlord-tenant lawyer for a consultation, you should bring the same kinds of documents.  If there is a lease, bring a copy of the complete lease. Also, bring copies of any monies paid to the landlord.

Just as with landlords, a tenant can try to strategize their plan of attack.  If you’re a tenant facing a non-payment case, and if you think you can pay back the arrears, maybe it makes sense to work out a repayment schedule.  If you want to move, then maybe it makes sense to negotiate an agreement for you to vacate in exchange for a waiver of the arrears.

CONCLUSION

Landlord-tenant cases in NYC are very hyper-specific.  Whether you’re a landlord seeking to evict a tenant, or you’re a tenant facing eviction, it helps to know what you can expect.  If you meet with a landlord-tenant lawyer for a free consultation, such as you get with the Law Office of Richard Kistnen, it helps to understand the whole case, as well as options to strategize.  If you would like to discuss your eviction case, contact the Law Office of Richard Kistnen, (718) 738-2324, or get started by scheduling a free consultation today.

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