A recent story in the New York Post discusses a lawsuit brought by the City of New York against a prominent couple who are the owners and landlords of a brownstone located in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. According to the allegations in the lawsuit, the couple sought to evict their tenants without any legal process. In more detail, they are accused of, among other actions, using force and threatening to use force to induce occupants to vacate, removing occupants’ possessions from the Premises, and changing entrance door locks to the Premises without supplying replacement keys to the occupants.
The lawsuit seeks civil penalties for violations of the New York City Unlawful Eviction Law, as well as a permanent injunction prohibiting the owners from engaging in any further attempt at unlawful eviction of tenants and occupants, or any further tenant harassment.
Our firm has consulted with many landlords over the years regarding potential evictions of tenants. One course of action that we would never advise a landlord to do is to attempt to evict the tenant themselves, without the benefit of the legal process. While there are obviously many problem tenants, all tenants in New York State are protected by laws relating to evictions. Any eviction must start by serving the tenants with the initial notices (known as predicate notices) which advise the tenants that an eviction action may be brought in the future, either because the lease has expired, or because the tenant has failed to pay rent due.