The fear of losing your home in an eviction is something that many New Yorkers have battled. You might get behind on rent or get into an argument with your landlord, and suddenly, it can feel like you are on the threshold of losing your apartment.
However, while landlords do have the right to evict tenants, it is crucial for tenants to know that they have rights and protection from wrongful eviction. Below are some examples of what might constitute a wrongful eviction.
Evicting someone without cause
Landlords must have a reason to evict a tenant, and there are many reasons why a landlord might pursue this action, including non-payment of rent and violations of the lease.
If a landlord does not have cause to evict someone, he or she must wait until the lease is up if the apartment is unregulated. If the apartment is regulated the end of a lease is not a basis to evict unless there is cause. If a landlord tries to evict someone without cause – or without proper notice of cause – then an eviction can be invalid.
Harassing the tenant
Harassing, threatening or abusing tenants in the hopes he or she will move out or comply with eviction actions can result in legal and financial consequences for the landlord.
For instance, in one case, a New York landlord was fined $17,000 for threatening to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on one of his tenants who had stopped paying her rent.
Though he reportedly had the right to start the eviction process, his decision to then threaten the tenant was unlawful. The tenant received $12,000 in damages.
Failing to follow proper steps
It is against the law for a landlord to evict a tenant without a court order. This means he or she cannot turn off your utilities, remove your belongings or change the locks on your apartment unless they have the court’s permission to do so. Further, landlords must give tenants notice prior to eviction based on rent non-payment or lease violations.
Landlords who attempt to unlawfully evict a tenant could face substantial money damages.
Eviction threats and notices should be taken very seriously, by both tenants and landlords. There are strict rules governing the process, and any violations could lead to legal action and financial consequences for someone who fails to comply with that process.