How Evictions Work: The Eviction Process in NYC from Beginning to End
Commercial tenants have interests that are significantly different from residential tenants. Whereas no one wants to be uprooted and have to move unless by choice, residential tenants, in a sense, have less to worry about. Sure, a residential tenant facing eviction has to find a place and has to incur the cost of moving. Commercial tenants, on the other hand, face issues in eviction that are similar but appear to be greater in magnitude. So, if you’re a tenant and you’re being evicted, what’s the eviction process like?
PROBLEMS THAT COME WITH BEING EVICTED
As mentioned previously, being evicted isn’t easy, for anyone. It’s stressful for all the parties involved. It takes a lot of time, and likely money (whether paying a lawyer to represent you, or having to take off of work or hiring help with family members so you can appear in court) to be involved in an eviction case. The magnitude of the challenges a commercial tenant faces, however, appear to be difference in scale than the challenges a residential tenant may face.
CHALLENGES THAT A RESIDENTIAL TENANT MAY FACE IN AN EVICTION
- Courtroom Headaches: When being evicted, a residential tenant certainly faces challenges. First, there is the stress of being sued. Even though Landlord-Tenant court is designed to be a speedy process, it can take awhile, and can be overwhelming. Go to a Landlord-Tenant court on any given day and someone not used to it can be overwhelmed pretty easily. There are hundreds of people lined up in the hallways trying to figure out what room to go to. You have to check in to the right courtroom or a default may be entered against you.
- In some courts (such as in Queens County), you have to check in one courtroom, and then wait in another courtroom. There are conferences with the court attorneys. There are language issues. And all of that is just the first court appearance.
- Relocation Headaches: Assuming that the landlord has obtained a warrant of eviction against you, the landlord can now send that paperwork to the marshal to enforce the warrant. In NYC, it usually takes about three weeks for a marshal to get their paperwork ready from the courts and serve the Notice of Eviction. In that time, as a tenant, you need to find a new place, get moving help, figure out any logistics with work and/or kids/school.
As you can tell, being evicted comes with difficulties. Not to minimize them, but commercial tenants face different kinds of challenges.
CHALLENGES THAT A COMMERCIAL TENANT MAY FACE IN AN EVICTION
- Courtroom Headaches: Landlord-tenant cases, whether commercial or residential, all take place within the same courthouse. As such, commercial tenants face the same challenges as a residential tenant does, only with arguably more difficulty. For instance, if the commercial tenant is a business entity (such as a corporation) then the tenant must appear by an attorney. So, right off the bat, a commercial tenant may have to incur legal fees.
- Relocation headaches: If a landlord successfully obtains a warrant of eviction against a commercial tenant, the tenant has many of the same problems that a residential tenant has with an eviction: finding a new space, coordinating the move. There are some more challenges, though, faced by a commercial tenant, which include: what happens with any employees? How do you give notice to customers? What about the cost of preparing a new space for the business?
PROCESS FOR EVICTIONS IN NYC
In many cases, the process for an eviction is similar, regardless of whether it’s a residential or commercial tenant.
- First, the landlord must serve a notice. If the case is one for rent, the notice will be a rent demand. If the case is for recovery of possession of the space, the notice will be a notice to quit.
- After the notice is served and the time outlined in the notice has expired, the landlord will then serve you with a Notice of Petition and Petition. These documents constitute the court filing. When the case is for rent, the proceeding will generally be a nonpayment case. When the case seeks to recover space, the proceeding is usually filed as a holdover case.
- In the Notice of Petition, you will find the date, time and location of your first court appearance. Generally during the first court appearance, the court attorney will review the case with all the parties to explore whether a settlement or some other resolution is possible. If it looks unlikely that some kind of resolution is possible, the case is generally adjourned for the parties to come back for trial.
Trial is when both sides will present their case to the judge – similar to what you would see on TV. The landlord (also known as the petitioner) will present its case first.
In a nonpayment case, the landlord will have to demonstrate that it is the owner of the property, that there was a valid and enforceable lease, that the tenant failed to pay the rent according to the lease, and that the landlord served the tenant with a proper rent demand under which the tenant failed to cure the arrears.
A holdover can be more complicated, but in the simplest of cases, the landlord may just have to prove ownership of the property, that the tenant was served with the requisite notice and court documents, and that the tenant has failed to vacate before the expiration of the time given.
JUDGMENT AND EXECUTION
Assuming that a landlord was able to make and prove its case, it will be awarded a judgment of possession. That judgment of possession will then be sent, along with some other paperwork, to a marshal or sheriff for execution (as only a marshal or sheriff can evict a tenant here in NYC). Eventually, the marshal will serve a Notice of Eviction that gives at least six (6) days notice of when the eviction could take place. If the tenant needs more time to find a new space, they will usually file an Order to Show Cause after receiving this notice from the marshal to explain to the judge why (and how much) more time is needed. A judge may or may not grant the extra time, and if the judge does grant extra time, may add conditions to it (such as the tenant having to pay some kind of use and occupancy to the landlord).
The landlord-tenant proceeding is designed to be an expeditious process in NYC. Depending on what side you’re on, it can feel like it’s the longest time ever (generally, a landlord’s feeling), or that time is flying by (often a tenant’s feeling). Being able to properly understand and navigate a landlord-tenant case is important for both landlords and tenant seeking to optimize their goals.
If you are a commercial landlord that wants to evict a tenant, or you’re a commercial tenant facing eviction, contact the Law Office of Richard Kistnen today to get the representation you need and want.
Law Office of Richard Kistnen
128-22 Rockaway Boulevard
South Ozone Park, NY 11420
Tel.: (718) 738-2324