Evictions are a legal process to remove a tenant or tenants from a home. It’s not just kicking the tenant or tenants from the home, as many people may believe. It can take a month to a few months to complete an eviction.
If the eviction is successful, then the tenants will need to move from the home and the eviction will be on their rental history report. It may also show up on their credit report. If this happens, tenants may find it’s more difficult to rent a home until the eviction is no longer on these reports.
Tenants will need to understand the difference between legal and illegal evictions to make sure it’s done properly and will want to work with an eviction attorney to have a better chance of avoiding a successful eviction.
Eviction With or Without Cause
The first step in the eviction process is to provide the tenant with a termination or eviction notice. There are a few different notices landlords can provide, depending on the specific situation and the reason for the eviction. These include the following.
Pay or Quit
If the tenant has not paid rent on time or in full, the landlord can provide them with a pay or quit notice. This provides the tenant with a certain amount of time to pay the rent or the eviction process will begin.
The notice generally includes a short amount of time to pay in full, typically three to five days. Paying the rent in full does stop the eviction process in these cases.
Cure or Quit
If rent is on time but the tenant has otherwise broken the lease, the landlord can provide a cure or quit notice. This can happen if the tenant has pets and the lease specifies no pets, with the exception being service animals.
It could also be breaking the noise restrictions for the unit, not properly caring for the unit, or any other parts of the lease that are broken. If the issue is fixed, the eviction process is stopped. If the issue is not fixed, the eviction moves to the next step.
There are times when a landlord will not give the tenant a chance to fix any issues before the eviction begins. In these situations, the tenant receives an unconditional quit notice.
This means they must move out immediately or go through the eviction process. There is no way to stop the eviction other than relinquishing the property to the landlord.
Eviction Without Cause
If the tenant does not have a lease with a set term, there is a possibility they could receive a termination notice without cause even if they haven’t done anything wrong.
These aren’t possible in rent-controlled areas, but they are in any other location. If a tenant receives this notice, they generally have 30 to 60 days to move out of the property before the eviction process begins.
Sheriff’s Escort From Property
It can take three to four weeks, if not longer, for the eviction to go through the court system. If the landlord successfully obtains an eviction, they still cannot just change the locks and remove the tenant.
If the tenant does not leave within a few days, the landlord can request a sheriff’s escort. This means the sheriff will visit the property with the eviction paperwork and watch while the tenant packs and leaves the unit.
There is typically a limited amount of time for tenants to grab their belongings if this happens. Once the tenant leaves, they cannot enter the property again to get any of their belongings.
There are times when evictions are not allowed. This is rare but has occurred during the recent pandemic. During a moratorium, tenants cannot be evicted for specific situations.
With the pandemic, evictions due to non-payment of rent were stopped until the moratorium was lifted. This did not stop other types of evictions, such as evictions for cause, during that time.
During a moratorium, it is still important for tenants to pay rent on time and fulfill other obligations in the lease, as they can be evicted as soon as the moratorium is lifted.
Tenants have many rights, no matter where they live in the US. These rights include the right to a habitable unit, the right to quiet enjoyment of the property, and the right to privacy.
Depending on the tenant’s location, they may have more rights. They also have the right to live in the property without being illegally evicted.
Unfortunately, many tenants are unaware of the eviction process and may not know what they can do if they are illegally evicted – or how to tell if an eviction is illegal. If the eviction does not go through the courts, it has been done illegally.
Landlords must go through the eviction process to remove a tenant from the property, even though it can take three to four weeks or longer to complete. Landlords cannot do the following to remove a tenant from the property. If any of these do happen, the tenant can take the case to court:
Change the Locks
Landlords cannot wait until the tenant leaves the unit and change the locks, effectively locking the tenant out of the unit. If this happens, the police may require the landlord to allow the tenant into the property or the tenant may have to take the case to court.
Remove the Doors
Tenants have a right to a habitable unit, and that includes having functional doors. Landlords cannot take the doors off the unit to try to convince the tenant to leave. They also cannot do anything to block the doors or otherwise prevent them from opening.
Turn Off Utilities
If the utilities are included in rent, the landlord cannot turn them off to convince a tenant to move. This includes water and electricity. The tenant has a right to a habitable unit, and that includes running water and electricity.
Remove Tenant’s Belongings
Landlords cannot remove the tenant’s belongings to get them to move out of the property. The landlord must go through the eviction process and, once the tenant is evicted properly through the courts, they must remove the belongings. In most states, they must store the belongings for a certain period so the tenant can collect them.
How to Stop Evictions
Once the eviction is started, it can be difficult to stop. However, there are a few different ways to do so, provided they fit the tenant’s situation. Some of the ways to try to stop eviction include the following.
Fix the Issue
If the landlord has provided a pay/cure or quit notice, the tenant has the option of paying the rent in full or fixing whatever issue is present. This is the fastest way to stop an eviction and can prevent it from being filed with the courts. However, this is not applicable in all situations.
Motion to Dismiss the Eviction
Once the eviction has been filed, the tenant can file a motion to dismiss. This is a document that outlines what is wrong with the eviction and why it shouldn’t go forward, and requests that the judge dismiss the eviction completely. If successful, the landlord can try the eviction process again. If it is not successful, the eviction process moves forward.
Using defenses like those mentioned previously, it may be possible to stop the eviction through a trial. This means the landlord will not win their case and the tenant is not evicted from the property. If the defenses aren’t successful, however, the eviction will be complete and the tenant will be given a limited amount of time to relinquish the property to the owner.
Settling With the Landlord
The tenant can request a settlement with the landlord at any time before the removal is concluded in court. The landlord and tenant will need to agree on the settlement.
This could be the tenant making payments to catch up on rent, the tenant fixing something that may be wrong, or the tenant agreeing to move out if they’re given a little more time. It is crucial to get any settlement in writing to avoid potential issues later.
No matter your legal situation during an eviction, it is recommended that you get in touch with an NYC eviction lawyer as soon as possible. Given the urgency at hand, you do not want to risk being without a place to live.