Tenant Defenses To Evictions In New York

by ECL Writer
New York Tenant's Rights to Withhold Rent or “Repair and Deduct”

There are so many reasons tenants can be evicted from their apartments. Rent arrears and other lease or rental agreement violations are grounds for eviction in New York. If you are getting evicted in New York, then you need to learn if you have legal grounds to fight your eviction. In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will outline all defenses available to challenge evictions in New York.

Eviction in New York

In New York, eviction is a legal process through which a landlord can remove a tenant from a rental property. The process starts with the landlord serving the tenant with a notice, such as a Notice to Quit or a Notice of Termination, stating the reason for the eviction. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, the landlord can then file a case in housing court.

The housing court process typically involves a hearing, at which the landlord and the tenant present their arguments. If the judge finds in favor of the landlord, the tenant may be ordered to vacate the property within a specified period of time. If the tenant does not comply with the order, the landlord may then ask the court to issue a warrant of eviction.

In New York, there are several types of eviction notices, including non-payment of rent, lease violation, and holdover proceedings. The type of notice served and the process for eviction may vary depending on the circumstances.

It’s important for tenants in New York to understand their rights and the eviction process, and to seek legal counsel if necessary. Eviction can have serious consequences for tenants, including the loss of their rental home and the potential for a negative impact on their credit history.

Grounds for Eviction in New York

In New York, there are a number of grounds for evicting a tenant, the most frequent of which are failing to pay rent or breaching the terms of the lease. A landlord needs a court order authorizing the eviction in order to properly evict a tenant. The tenant must get notice before the landlord can file the eviction complaint with the court.

Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent

In New York, eviction for nonpayment of rent is a common reason for a landlord to initiate the legal process to remove a tenant from a rental property. If a tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord must first serve the tenant with a Notice to Quit, which gives the tenant 14 days to pay the rent or vacate the property. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, the landlord may then file a case in housing court.

At the court hearing, the judge will consider the evidence presented by both the landlord and the tenant. If the judge finds that the tenant has failed to pay rent, the tenant may be ordered to pay the rent owed or vacate the property within a specified period of time.

In some cases, the tenant may be able to defend against eviction for nonpayment of rent by showing that the landlord did not make necessary repairs or failed to maintain a habitable living environment. It’s important for tenants to understand their rights and to seek legal counsel if necessary.

If the tenant does not comply with the court order, the landlord may then ask the court to issue a warrant of eviction, which allows the landlord to physically remove the tenant from the property. The warrant may be executed by the sheriff or marshal, who will physically remove the tenant and any belongings from the property.  (see N.Y. Real Prop. Acts § 711(2)).

Eviction for Lease Violations

In New York, eviction for lease violations is a process through which a landlord can remove a tenant from a rental property if the tenant breaches the terms of the lease agreement. If the tenant violates a term of the lease, such as causing damage to the property, making excessive noise, or engaging in illegal activities, the landlord must first serve the tenant with a Notice of Termination. The notice must specify the lease violation and give the tenant an opportunity to correct the violation or vacate the property.

If the tenant does not comply with the notice, the landlord may then file a case in housing court. At the court hearing, the judge will consider the evidence presented by both the landlord and the tenant. If the judge finds that the tenant has breached the lease agreement, the tenant may be ordered to vacate the property within a specified period of time.

In some cases, the tenant may be able to defend against eviction for lease violations by showing that the landlord did not make necessary repairs or failed to maintain a habitable living environment. It’s important for tenants to understand their rights and to seek legal counsel if necessary.

If the tenant does not comply with the court order, the landlord may then ask the court to issue a warrant of eviction, which allows the landlord to physically remove the tenant from the property. The warrant may be executed by the sheriff or marshal, who will physically remove the tenant and any belongings from the property.

The notice of termination must state that the tenant has at least 30 days to move out of the rental unit. If the tenant has not moved out of the rental unit by the end of the 30 days, the landlord can then file an eviction lawsuit with the court. See the New York Courts self-help center for holdover notices for more information about lease violations outside of New York City. For information on lease violations within New York City, see the book New York City Landlords and Owners, page 8, published by the New York City housing court.

Eviction Process

The landlord must submit a petition to either the district court or housing court of the county where the rental property is located in order to start the eviction process. A judge’s hearing will be scheduled by the court, and the tenant will be given notice of the time and date. Tenants must show up at the hearing if they want to contest the eviction. The court will hear from both the landlord and the tenant at the hearing before making a final judgment about the eviction.

The tenant can discover that contesting the eviction isn’t always the wisest course of action. If the tenant loses in court, the landlord may be required to pay the tenant’s court costs and legal fees. Additionally, the tenant can get a bad credit rating and be denied housing in the future. The best course of action for the renter may be to attempt to communicate with the landlord and reach an agreement outside of the legal system.

Many communities have free or low-cost mediation services that handle landlord-tenant disputes; local resources are available through the website mediate.com and the American Arbitration Association

Eviction Defenses in New York

If a tenant is being evicted due to nonpayment of rent or a lease violation, there may be a defense available.

Landlord Does Not Follow Proper Eviction Procedures

It is crucial that a landlord diligently adheres to all the legal requirements when evicting a tenant in New York. If not, the eviction could not be legal. For instance, before evicting a tenant for not paying rent, a landlord must give the renter a three-day notice. The tenant may claim a lack of notice as a defense to the eviction if the landlord does not provide any notice to the tenant but nevertheless files the eviction lawsuit. It would put an end to the eviction lawsuit, and the landlord would have to give the renter a three-day notice. The landlord may re-file an eviction lawsuit with the court if the tenant continues to be in arrears with the rent.

Remember that this kind of argument merely delays a valid eviction; it does not prevent it entirely. The eviction will take place normally once the landlord fixes the flawed procedure.

Landlord Evicts Tenant with “Self-Help” Actions

In New York, it is against the law for a landlord to evict a tenant without first getting a judge’s permission. The tenant’s access to and usage of the rental property cannot be interfered with by the landlord in any way, including by turning off the utilities or changing the locks on the doors. A “self-help” eviction is a common term used to describe this kind of conduct. The tenant may file a lawsuit against the landlord for damages if the landlord uses a “self-help” eviction to try to evict the tenant. (see N.Y. Real Prop. Law § § 235 and 853)

Landlord Evicts Tenant for Not Paying Rent

A tenant who is being evicted for failing to pay rent may have a defense available.

Tenant Paid Rent in Full

A landlord is supposed to issue a tenant a three-day notice after they don’t pay their rent on time, warning them that they will file an eviction case unless they pay up or vacate the rented property. The landlord shouldn’t proceed with the eviction if the renter pays the rent within the three-day window. (see N.Y. Real Prop. Acts § 711(2)).

When paying rent, the tenant should request a receipt with a time stamp. In this manner, if the landlord still goes ahead with the eviction, the tenant can use the receipt as evidence that the rent was paid on time.

Landlord Did Not Maintain the Rental Unit

A landlord must keep a rental property in New York in a fit and livable condition. This means that the landlord is responsible for providing the rental apartment with all necessary amenities, such as heat and running water, as well as any required repairs (see N.Y. Real Prop. Law 235 and 235-b).

The renter may have a few choices if the landlord neglects to do necessary maintenance or provide necessary services to the rental unit:

  • The tenant may be able to withhold rent until the landlord makes the necessary repairs. The tenant should notify the landlord in writing of the repairs that are needed and give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to make the repairs. If the landlord does not make the repairs, the tenant can withhold rent until the repairs are made.
  • The tenant may choose instead to make the necessary repairs and then deduct the cost of the repairs from the rent. Again, the tenant should notify the landlord in writing of the repairs that are needed and give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to make the repairs. If the tenant chooses to make the repairs and then deduct the cost of the repairs from the rent, the tenant should keep a copy of all receipts and invoices and provide the landlord with copies of the same.

If the tenant decides to go with either of these choices, the tenant should probably also consult a lawyer to make sure that they are adhering to industry standards.

After exercising one of these rights, the tenant can file a lawsuit to prevent the landlord from evicting them by proving that the landlord failed to keep the rented property in a legal manner.

Landlord Evicts Tenant for Violating the Lease Agreement

Before filing for eviction due to a breach of the lease, the landlord must provide the tenant a ten-day notice to cure. The landlord cannot evict the renter if the tenant fixes the lease violation within 10 days. The tenant may utilize evidence that the violation was corrected within the required time limit as a defense against the eviction if the landlord nevertheless goes ahead with the eviction.

Landlord Evicts the Tenant Based on Discrimination

According to the federal Fair Housing Act, landlords are prohibited from treating tenants unfairly on the basis of their race, religion, gender, national origin, or family status (including having children under the age of 18 or pregnant tenants). A landlord cannot discriminate against a tenant on the grounds of race, religion, age, sexual orientation, marital status, or membership in the armed forces, according to the New York State Human Rights Law. The tenant can use discrimination as a defense against the eviction if the landlord tries to evict them based on any of these factors.

How do you get an eviction off your record in NY?

There is no official process for removing an eviction from your record in New York. Eviction records are public and are part of the permanent record of housing court proceedings. However, there are a few steps you can take to help mitigate the impact of an eviction on your future housing prospects:

  • Obtain a copy of your eviction record: You can request a copy of your eviction record from the housing court where the case was heard.
  • Explain the circumstances: If you are asked about your eviction during a housing application process, it may be helpful to explain the circumstances that led to the eviction. For example, if the eviction was the result of financial difficulties, you can explain what steps you have taken to address those difficulties.
  • Provide evidence of stability: Providing evidence of stability, such as proof of current employment, a stable rental history, or a good credit score, can help mitigate the impact of eviction.
  • Consider working with a housing advocate or attorney: A housing advocate or attorney may be able to help you find housing or negotiate with landlords to overcome objections to your rental application.

It’s important to note that while you can’t remove an eviction from your record, you can take steps to mitigate its impact on your future housing prospects. By obtaining a copy of your record, explaining the circumstances, providing evidence of stability, and seeking assistance from a housing advocate or attorney, you can increase your chances of finding suitable housing in the future.

How long is the eviction process in NY?

The eviction process in New York can take 3 or 6 months, depending on several factors, including:

  1. Type of eviction: The time it takes to complete an eviction in New York can vary depending on the type of eviction. For example, an eviction for nonpayment of rent may take less time than an eviction for lease violations or other issues.
  2. Court schedule: The time it takes to complete an eviction can also vary depending on the court schedule and the number of cases pending before the court.
  3. Hearings and appeals: If the tenant contests the eviction, the process can take longer as the case is heard in court and the tenant may have the opportunity to appeal the decision.
  4. Compliance with the law: The eviction process must comply with all applicable laws and regulations, which can add additional time to the process.

In general, the eviction process in New York can take 3 or 6 months to complete. It’s important for landlords to follow all applicable laws and regulations and for tenants to understand their rights and to seek legal counsel if necessary. A thorough understanding of the process and the timeline can help both landlords and tenants plan and prepare for the eviction process.

Leave a Comment

This blog is ONLY for informational or educational purposes and DOES NOT substitute professional legal advise. We take no responsibility or credit for what you do with this info.