Beyond Housing Court
When To Take Action
I usually advise landlords that if a tenant owes back rent into a second month, that’s when they should start to consider legal action in their landlord-tenant dispute. It’s at this point that it makes sense to serve a demand for rent because these proceedings take a lot of time, so by the time you get a judgment against them, they will owe a lot more than one or two months of rent. If they don’t pay, it then makes sense to escalate matters.
Holdover cases demand a slightly more nuanced approach, ultimately depending on the reason the landlord wants to terminate the tenancy and bring the holdover. Typically, there’s not much reason to wait if you want the tenant out. Landlords sometimes ask me if they should send their tenants a letter telling them to move out. I usually advise that doing so doesn’t really do anything. Instead, if you want your tenant out of your property, serve them with a notice of termination. If they move out, you won’t have to take them to court. If this isn’t the case, you have the option of taking them to court.
For tenants, there’s not really any reason to wait to bring an HP action. If there are repairs, you’re supposed to give the landlord notice of the repairs first, then give them access to make the repairs. If they don’t respond to the notice or they don’t make the repairs, there’s no reason to hold off, especially if the violations are serious. It’s worth noting that tenants have protections against retaliatory eviction in these situations when their landlord tries to evict them within six months of their reporting a violation.
Alternatives To Housing Court
Housing court is a common venue for resolving landlord-tenant disputes, but you can resolve your case outside the courtroom. This can save time, mental energy, and money, depending on the specific circumstances of your case. Following are some important things to keep in mind as you go through a housing issue and weigh up whether to go to court or not.
Court dates are typically provided in the initial legal documents you file with the court when initiating a holdover or HP action. Both parties are required to appear on the specified date. On the other hand, court dates are only given for nonpayment cases if the tenant files an answer to the petition. In such cases, both parties attend court on the specified date.
Cases involving violations can be settled outside court, assuming the landlord addresses and rectifies the violations in question. In some instances, landlords may opt to negotiate with tenants to vacate voluntarily. In such instances, the landlord may offer money for the tenant to move out. In these cases, so long as the tenant signs a formal surrender of the apartment and turns over the keys, the landlord faces no potential liability and is totally protected from any further escalation. If this does not happen, there’s no option to recover the apartment except through housing court.
If the issue at hand pertains to unpaid rent, a tenant could seek public assistance and receive a grant applicable to back rent. This can facilitate a settlement of the case, steering clear of any need for court intervention.
No matter your exact situation, proactive communication and negotiation with your landlord or tenant can lead to a mutually beneficial resolution, saving you the time and energy housing court would require. Consider this as your next housing problem unfolds and you face potential litigation.
Key Steps To Initiating a Landlord-Tenant Dispute
Navigating a landlord-tenant dispute is a demanding process that requires adhering to deadlines and attention to detail. Whether you’re initiating a nonpayment or a holdover case, the process follows a sequence of steps, each requiring specific forms and documentation.
- Nonpayment Cases
The first form you’ll need to fill out and submit for a nonpayment case is a 14-Day Demand for Rent, a carefully crafted notice that details the outstanding amount your tenant has yet to pay. These forms are accessible online and must be filled out and served correctly – usually by a licensed process server. Should the tenant remain in arrears after the stipulated period, the landlord proceeds to serve a Notice of Petition and Nonpayment Petition. Again, the correctness of the forms and their proper service in a manner prescribed by law, usually by a licensed process server, are paramount.
- Holdover (Termination Of Tenancy) Cases
In cases where the landlord seeks to terminate a tenancy, the process kicks off with serving a Termination of Tenancy Notice. The duration of this notice – 30, 60, or 90 days – depends on factors such as how long the tenant has been in the property and whether there’s a written lease in place. Similar to the nonpayment scenario, all forms must be completed properly and served by a licensed process server or other manner prescribed by law. Subsequently, once the termination period lapses, the landlord serves a Holdover Petition and Notice of Petition, signaling the formal initiation of the legal proceedings.
- Lease-Specific Forms
Leases introduce an additional layer of complexity to these situations, as some lease agreements may require additional specific forms. A Notice to Cure is a common example. These delineate lease violations and set a timeframe for rectification. Lease-specific notices of termination may also be required, demanding the landlord to detail violations with specific dates and times, if applicable.
- Federal Subsidized Apartments
For landlords managing federally subsidized apartments, such as Section 8 Housing, adherence to Section 8 Forms outlined in the lease becomes relevant and imperative for effecting a lawful termination of tenancy.
For more information on Legal Action In A Landlord Tenant Dispute, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (718) 557-9767 today.