If you live in New York and are in danger of being evicted, your landlord will have to follow strict state eviction regulations. If they don’t, they may be breaking the law.
Evictions in New York are On the Rise
New York State’s moratorium on evictions ended on January 15, 2022. This led to a sharp increase in eviction procedures in the local court systems. Many evictions were triggered by tenants unable to pay their rent due to the COVID pandemic. Even with the State’s ERAP Program trying to help, many landlords are tired of waiting for back rent and are starting the eviction process. New York is a tenant-friendly state, so there are multiple steps your landlord will need to take to evict you.
With the long drawn-out legal process of eviction, not to mention a court system backed up for months due to COVID, some landlords may try to get you to move out through other means.
When What Your Landlord is Doing is Illegal
You’ve probably heard some horror stories of what various landlords have done to get their tenants to leave. In response, New York State made many of these actions a crime. On June 28, 2019 (and updated on April 1, 2022) New York passed the Unlawful Eviction Law RPAPL § 768 (Real Property Actions & Proceedings (RPA) Chapter 81, Article 7, Section 768). This law covers any tenant who has “lawfully occupied the dwelling unit for thirty consecutive days or longer or who has entered into a lease with respect to such dwelling.”
Who is Protected Under RPAPL § 768?
Legal proof of 30-day occupancy can include:
Actions That Are Now a Class A Misdemeanor
If your landlord has done one or more of these actions to try and get you to move out, they can be charged for each separate incident. There are also civil fines involved. They can be fined from $1000 up to $10,000 for each violation.
Is There Any Protection for Other Types of Occupants?
Even if the person in the dwelling unit has been there for less than 30 days, or is even trespassing (squatters), landlords are not allowed to use force to remove them. So, a landlord can change the locks on someone who was not covered by RPAPL § 768 and not break the law. However, if the occupant tries to re-enter the dwelling unit, the landlord still cannot use force to keep them out. They must call the local police and file a trespassing complaint.
What to Do If Your Landlord is Trying to Evict You Illegally
You never want to deal with a legal problem without a lawyer at your side. If you feel your landlord is acting illegally, get in touch with an eviction attorney immediately. Your lawyer will take you step by step through what needs to be done.
You should also contact your local police department and report what your landlord is doing. If the police in your area think this is simply a civil matter, you can forward them a letter that New York Attorney General Letitia James sent out to all law enforcement offices explaining how RPAPL § 768 works. Download here – https://ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/guidance_to_law_enforcement_on_illegal_lockouts.pdf
If you have been evicted illegally, RPAPL § 768 also states that you must be allowed back into the premises and that the landlord will be fined an additional $100 per day (up to six months) until you are allowed to return. With your eviction lawyer’s help, if you have incurred any expenses while illegally evicted (emergency housing, legal fees), you may also be able to sue for up to triple damages for costs and losses.
What to Do Next If your landlord is trying to evict you, and you believe they are not following state law, you need to get an eviction lawyer on your side as soon as you can. Reach out to New York eviction attorney Ronald Weiss for a free consultation. He can tell you what you need to know about the eviction process in New York and help you get your case started. Call 631-271-3737 and take the first step to a fresh start.